Unsung heroes honoured by outgoing Mayor

The outgoing Mayor of Bridgend County Borough, Cllr William Kendall, has recognised the fantastic contributions of volunteers, charity champions and other pillars of the local community in this year’s Mayor’s Citizenship Awards.

The awards are organised by Bridgend County Borough Council and shine a light on those who go the extra mile for the benefit of others.

Amongst the 13 winners are a support group for Ukrainian refugees in Maesteg, a volunteer from the RNLI who recently celebrated 50 years of service and a local man who dressed up as Spiderman whilst running the streets to raise money for good causes.

The Mayor said:

“It’s been a real honour to hear about the terrific contributions that take place right throughout the county borough and it was a privilege to present the awards to the worthy winners.

“It’s really important that our unsung heroes are given the recognition they deserve and I was really impressed by the variety of fundraising and acts of kindness that have taken place.

“I’d like to thank residents for sending in their nominations and the selection process was no easy task. It’s clear that we are inundated with many individuals and groups who go the extra mile for local community.”

Here are the individual award winners:

David White: Shortly before he passed away, David was recognised as one of this year’s winners for both his voluntary and public service across Bridgend County Borough. Whether it was food banks or coffee mornings, charity book sales or dressing up as Father Christmas for festive events, David was constantly working to promote local good causes in his own free time and spent his life raising funds for numerous charities. His nomination form concluded by saying: “A kinder and more deserving man would be hard to find.”

Lisa Pritchard: Lisa is the founder of the Christmas toy swap in Cornelly which helps to ensure that families are able to give presents to their children during the festive period without having to worry about cost-of-living pressures. She is also the young carers Coordinator for Bridgend where she works tirelessly to support young people and their families throughout the county borough.

Maxine Huntley: Maxine is a keen supporter of all aspects of community life and has been acknowledged for her volunteer work in Pyle and Kenfig Hill over the last 30 years. She has volunteered at Theo’s Charity Shop since it’s opening over 10 years ago, alongside managing the Scout and Guide Hall at Kenfig Hill and running Brownie and Rainbow groups for local children.

Philip Missen: Earlier this year, Philip celebrated 50 years as a volunteer for Porthcawl RNLI. He started off as a crew member and has been the Lifeboat Operations Manager since 1998 and is passionate about highlighting water safety messages to schools and other local organisations.

Richard Durston: Throughout the pandemic, Richard dressed up as Spiderman and ran through every street in Blaengarw, Pontycymer, Pont-y-rhyl, Llangeinor and Brynmenyn.

He raised over £10,000 for the NHS and other local charities, and since then he has once again transformed himself into Spiderman for over 90 birthday parties, raising over £15,000 in total.

Here are the group winners:

Baobab Bach CIC Community Pantries: The group works with the local community to provide affordable bags of food whilst helping to reduce the amount of food waste. Since the launch of the project, over 19,000 food bags have been supplied to residents and a team of around 90 volunteers play a key part in growing lots of the produce.

Barc Community Outreach Centre: Staff and volunteers are on call 24 hours a day and are present in the community day or night for those in need. The centre is at the heart of the local community and offers a range of support including food, fuel and the offer of a safe warm place. Staff and volunteers also fundraise and often use their own money to provide vital resources for those in need.

Bargains Galore: This group was formed under the common goal of raising funds for charities and community groups by at the same time supporting families and individuals who are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis. This group offers goods at very affordable prices, with the money then being put back into local charities to support those in need.

Coity Festivals: Since being formed just over a decade ago, Coity Festivals have raised thousands of pounds for local causes and have brought the community together by a holding a range of events. In particular their ‘Jam in the Castle’ events at Coity Castle have gone from strength to strength in recent years raising more than £50,000 in total.

Family Breakfast Pyle: In order to address food poverty and social isolation, this voluntary group offers a free breakfast on a Saturday morning whilst ensuring that lots of other support is on offer too. Other organisations such as South Wales Police often attend to engage with residents and support from the local foodbank is also available too. The group started by supporting 30 families on the day it first opened and that number is now up to over 100. Steps are also being taken to ensure the long-term sustainability and growth of the group.

Greenspace SOS: The group are committed to enhancing Bridgend County Borough’s local environment by also benefiting the wellbeing of residents. Free garden services are offered to vulnerable individuals and groups to assist with any pressures caused by the cost-of-living crisis and to encourage people to spend time outside to improve their mental health and wellbeing. Other organisations such as a Flying Start Nursery School, an animal rescue sanctuary and St Johns Ambulance have all also received support.

Safe Haven Maesteg: The group was set up to provide a point-of-contact in the Llynfi Valley for Ukrainian nationals seeking sanctuary away from their home at a time of great uncertainty during the ongoing war. The weekly sessions enable Ukrainian individuals to meet weekly and share their experiences with each other whilst receiving support as they navigate their new lives in Wales. The support available includes Universal Credit applications, job centre appointments as well as advice on schools and other key matters.

Western Beacons Mountain Rescue Team: The Bryncethin based team, formerly known as Bridgend Scout Mountain Rescue, are made up of volunteers who give up their time to assist others in difficult and dangerous conditions around South and Mid Wales. They also provide support for charity events, such as the Richard Burton 10K, and can provide water rescue assistance where needed. Recruits have to undergo extensive training and it can take 12 to 24 months to become a full member of the team. Even for full members training is continuous as methods and equipment are constantly evolving.