Wiltshire Publications

Inspirational heroes honoured with Civic Awards

This entry was posted on Tuesday, April 9th, 2019 at 9:15 am.

Civic award winners, Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Field; Lynne Vercoe from the Westbury Branch of the Wiltshire Family History Society and head teacher at Westbury Church of England Junior School, Richard Hatt with Mayor Ian Cunningham (with chain).

THE mayor of Westbury, cllr Ian Cunningham, hosted the annual civic awards last week and made presentations to local people and organisations in recognition of their contribution to the town over the past year.

This year, awards were presented to the cleaner of the town’s public toilets, Linda Millard; town litter collector, William Phillips; head teacher at Westbury Church of England Junior School, Richard Hatt; community volunteer, Radek Evans; The Westbury Branch of the Wiltshire Family History Society;  and World War One commemorations volunteer, Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Field; with a special mention to Poppy organiser, Bill Prior.

Mayor, Ian Cunningham, presented each with their award, and the Deputy Mayor, cllr Mike Sutton, spoke about the work in the community of each award-winner.

Pictured: civic award winners, Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Field; Lynne Vercoe from the Westbury Branch of the Wiltshire Family History Society and head teacher at Westbury Church of England Junior School, Richard Hatt with Mayor Ian Cunningham (with chain).

Linda Millard; “Linda is one of Westbury’s unsung heroes. She has been cleaning the public toilets in Westbury for many  years with 26 years’ continuous service under a variety of employers. Westbury Town Council became aware of her long service when we took over the care of the toilets after Wiltshire Council announced that they could no longer fund them and planned closure.

 “Andy Smith, operations manager – Wiltshire, at IdVerde said, “Linda has looked after the maintenance of the public conveniences and has always been loyal and hardworking, providing an excellent service to her customers.

“Linda has a great personality and always has a smile for everyone and gets on really well with the members of the public and will always go the extra mile to help out.” 

Linda was unable to attend the ceremony. 

 William Phillips; “Most people in Westbury have probably met Will Phillips as he pushes his sweeper’s cart around Westbury trying to keep our town a little tidier in the face of those who sadly persist in dropping litter and not clearing up after their dogs. He has been carrying out this task in Westbury for 17 years.

“Andy Smith of Id Verde said, “Will has always worked tirelessly on his hand barrow in Westbury and provides a great service to the residents of Westbury and is an asset to IdVerde. Will has a cheery personality and a broad smile whilst carrying out his duties. His sickness record is second to none as his supervisor cannot recollect him having any time off sick. Will’s job is a front-line service and is always in the public eye and he keeps the streets of Westbury clean and tidy.” 

William was unable to attend the ceremony.

Richard Hatt; “Richard Hatt has been part of the furniture in Westbury now for 17 years as head teacher at Westbury Church of England Junior School. Those with long memories will know that it was a school in special measures when Mr Hatt first arrived and that it spent quite a few years in “requires improvement”. 

“The school has now achieved a (re)confirmed Ofsted rating of ‘Good’ and has recently topped national tables in subjects like maths, reaching the top 1% of some 20,000 schools in the government all import progress measurement; even this with children recognised as deprived reaching the top 5% against ALL children in the country. 

“Despite all this, Mr Hatt’s award is not just for his work at the school. A few years ago, Wiltshire Council decided to close our youth centre. Mr. Hatt and the governors at Westbury Junior eyed this empty building with interest. 

“To give credit to Wiltshire Council, after we approached them, they quickly decided that it might be suitable for a community asset transfer and the Westbury Community Project Trust has been established for that purpose. There is still a lot of work to do, but Mr. Hatt has worked as chair tirelessly to bring together groups and organisations who can help.” 

Radek Evans; “Radek has become a fixture in Westbury; whenever volunteering is needed Radek is usually there. In particular, he has made cleaning up and recycling waste at public events a special personal responsibility. He is currently heading up the volunteers at the community fridge. 

“Radek has practically single-handedly collected several petitions around subjects of concern to the town. He delivers flyers and leaflets on all kinds of important topics. 

“One if Radek’s great interests is music. He travels around the country helping out at all kinds of events, but he is also a stalwart member of the Westbury Festival committee, finding all kinds of interesting acts.

“Radek has pulled an act out of a hat at the last minute when someone has let us down and I still don’t know how he manages this! Many of those who perform here go on to become personal friends of Radek and he has been known to travel around the country to help  out performers who he supports.”

Radek was unable to attend the awards ceremony.

This year, the council also made a number of special awards to recognise those who have worked together with the council on the Great War commemorations. 

These were presented to; The Westbury Branch of the Wiltshire Family History Society; “Tonight, we are making an award to the Family History Society specifically for their huge project to research every man (and many women) who was involved in the Great War who came from (or were associated with Westbury).

“This herculean task culminated in a fascinating and moving exhibition in All Saints Church last year which was attended by a large number of people including schoolchildren from Westbury who found it quite fascinating. The information they have gathered will be of interest for generations to come.”

The award was accepted by Lynne Vercoe on behalf of the group. 

Andrew Field; “Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Field joined Westbury Town Council’s Great War task and finish group  years ago. Since then, and despite being a serving officer, he got involved in all kinds of projects. He researched all the names on our war memorial which the town council then had restored. He has given a number of very popular talks on aspects of the world war. He has worked with us on projects including the trench with members of the World War 1 group. He even sourced a fully working model WW1 tank! 

“Andrew has been involved in all aspects of our World War One commemorations, even organising marches and wreath laying at the Remembrance service. 

“He has also helped the Westbury Festival to gain access to Leighton House and is personally led several hundred locals around the site (10 at a time) over many hours, giving up several weekends in order to do this. He’s an all-round good egg who has worked unstintingly to help the town recognise its military connections and commemorate the Great War.”

A special mention was also given to poppy organiser, Bill Prior; “We also would like to recognise the work of Bill Prior who has been selling poppies on behalf of the British Legion for over 30 years. Mr Prior asked the clerk for “no publicity” saying that he already had many awards, but the town council would still like to congratulate him and others who run the poppy appeal every year in Westbury.” 

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