Love Medway Team
3 Oct 2023
Recognizing outstanding contributions and commitment to the community
Photos by www.steveakehurstphotography.com
In a world that often focuses on the grand and the global, it's easy to overlook the incredible impact that individuals and groups can have right in our own backyard. However, the Rainham Community Awards are changing that perspective, providing a platform to celebrate and honour the remarkable contributions of local heroes who selflessly dedicate their time, talents, and energy to making Rainham a better place for all its residents.
The Rainham Community Awards, now in their 3rd year, have become a highly anticipated event in the town's calendar. These awards serve as a testament to the power of community spirit and the tireless efforts of individuals who go above and beyond to make Rainham a vibrant and thriving community.
One of the most heartwarming aspects of the Rainham Community Awards is the nomination process. Anyone in the community can nominate individuals or groups they believe deserve recognition for their efforts. This inclusive approach ensures that unsung heroes, whose deeds might otherwise go unnoticed, get their moment in the spotlight.
The selection process involves a panel of judges with representatives from various sectors of the community, ensuring that a wide range of perspectives and expertise are considered. This impartial judging process ensures that winners truly exemplify the community's values and aspirations.
A CELEBRATION OF DIVERSE ACHIEVEMENTS
One of the most remarkable aspects of the Rainham Community Awards is the diverse range of categories that recognize achievements across various facets of community life celebrating the many ways in which people make Rainham a special place. We had over 60 nominees across 12 categories.With over 150 people attending the award celebration at St Margaret’s Church, it was an event that left people in awe about the many things that are happening in Rainham that no-one knows about and buzzing with excitement on the possibilities to come.The 2023 Awards were hosted by Rev. Nathan Ward and presented by a variety of local people including Vince Maple (Leader of Medway Council), Jane Howard (Medway Voluntary Association), Kayleigh Ward and Liz O’Hanlon (creators of the Rainham Eco-Hub and Eco-Podcast), Paul Grant (Kenilworth Youth), Leon Roskilly (Author, Wild about Rainham founder), Cheryl Wilson( founder of TickTocks), Nick Grief (Emeritus Professor of Law at the University of Kent).
CATEGORIES & WINNERS
VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR: Micheila Cull
Micheila Cull volunteers every day (and during her weekend) at Thames View Primary School stocking and running the Eco Shop. The pre-loved uniform shop has saved hundreds of perfectly good uniform items from going to landfill whilst also saving parents big amounts of money during tough times. It is a perfect example of a simple idea making a big difference! The funds from the shop are going towards the school’s other eco projects such as tree planting and the kids grow-to-eat initiative.
BUSINESS OF THE YEAR: The Three Mariners
The Three Mariners is a local pub but seems to constantly be working for the benefit of the locals of Rainham. As well as a lovely garden and lots of events evenings, the pub offers lots of opportunities for other charity groups to gather and meet regularly - actively supporting them in their endeavours.
COMMUNITY HERO AWARD: Paul Dennighton
In Feb 2021, aged 55 and having not taken a day off sick in 20 years, without any typical symptoms, Paul was diagnosed with advanced Prostate Cancer and given just 5 years to live. Paul pledged to walk 25 million steps, vowing to spend his last few years stopping other men dying from prostate cancer, for the 48,000+ men in the UK who will receive a prostate cancer diagnosis each year those already living with it and for the 11000+ that will sadly die from it and all their families He has currently just past 10 million steps in 2 years. In 2022, he walked 3 marathons in 3 days, a sunrise to sunset walk around Rainham, a street party, and the Yorkshire 3 peaks in 10 hours and more to come!All this whilst battling terminal cancer and on strong medication, raising over £48,000 to date for Prostate Cancer UK. These men are our Fathers, husbands, uncles, brothers, sons and mates.
UNSUNG HERO : Anne Neeves / Vera Swift
Anne is constantly working to ensure Action Forum (a community based magazine) has enough volunteers to distribute it. Each month she batches up the magazine and then drops the relevant batches at the relevant shops/libraries/hubs around the area. Where no-one is available, Anne delivers them herself. She is utterly reliable and very diligent, yet very few are aware of her role. Vera teaches knitting and selflessly gives much of her time to knit for charities. Vera is normally at the Rainham Library every Monday from 2pm-4pm, she knits for various causes including premature baby units in the Hospital. Trish the wool shop lady in station road sends people to meet Vera, for everyone who needs help and advice on knitting and tuition.
ECO-AMBASSADOR: Steph Clarke
Steph Clarke is a true inspirational eco leader. Setting up Rainham Mark Grammar School eco-committee, reducing single use cups, planting veggies, recycling uniforms and pens and raising up the importance of being green. She led a talk at the big Green Day and is a true inspiration for young people and someone for adults to learn a lot from.
LITTER PICKING HERO: Rivermead EPR (Parkwood)
Rivermead EPR have been litter picking throughout the community and around Parkwood roads, green spaces and parks on a regular basis. The Class have been learning about the community and Environment and linked this to litter picking. The learners have been enthusiastic and put in brilliant effort.
SPORTS / FITNESS COACH : Becky McDonald
Becky was nominated so many times by the local community, one person said “Becky who runs The Body Coaches caters for the whole community, Becky is not just a personal trainer she has also started a group for the older generation that deals with everything from stretching to blood pressure and has grown this group now to 30 people coming on a regular basis. She is such a generous outgoing person and will assist anyone with anything.”
WILD ABOUT RAINHAM: Rainham Community Orchard
The volunteers of the Rainham Community Orchard have been working exceptionally hard this year, establishing the orchard into a new site at Riverside Country Park, moving trees from the old orchard, planting new trees, and hedging. The no-chemical regime and concentration on establishing an ecosystem for wildlife is just part of the ethos that inspires local people to get involved, at the same time gaining valuable knowledge and expertise that benefits the biodiversity of Rainham in the wider area.
YOUNG GREEN HERO (U19): The Howard School Eco Ambassadors
These students have a passion for the environment and looking after their local environment. They take part in a number of environmental activities and giving up their time to implement these. They created an eco-club meet fortnightly to plan and discuss ways to make the school environment and the wider environment better. From planting trees and maintaining them, making and planting seed bombs to encourage bees, creating light switch stickers as reminders to turn off lights, new logos for recycling bins and even a beach clean.
CHARITY OF THE YEAR: St Margarets Church
St Margaret's Church, Rainham does amazing things for the community including hosting Citizens Advice weekly, A community fridge, toy swaps, keep fit sessions for those struggling with mobility, hosting the Medway River Literary Poetry festival, Rainham’s Big Green Day, as well as concerts making it vital to the community and changing lives over a cup of coffee
ENVIRONMENT & SUSTAINABILITY SCHOOL SHIELD : The Howard School
Six schools entered this award based on the theme : AIR. Improving Air quality and reducing air pollution the schools were tasked to see how they could tackle this along with raising awareness to the health issues. The Howard took many actions including investigating the air pollution and links to asthma in our school, they now check air pollution/quality daily and putting up a sign in reception to make people aware of the current day risks.
THE RIPPLE EFFECT
The impact of the Rainham Community Awards extends beyond the event itself. It acts as a catalyst for further community engagement and volunteerism, inspiring others to get involved and make a difference in the lives of their neighbours. These awards amplify the sense of belonging and pride in being part of the Rainham community. In fact the ‘ENVIRONMENT & SUSTAINABILITY SCHOOL SHIELD’ has already announce FIRE as their theme for 2023/24!
In a time when many communities face numerous challenges, the Rainham Community Awards stand as a shining example of how local individuals and groups can come together to build a better tomorrow. Through their dedication, passion, and tireless efforts, the awardees prove that a strong community is built upon the foundation of shared values and a collective commitment to making life better for everyone.