I was really pleased to be able to attend the recent Pride of Swindon awards, which was held at the STEAM Museum. It's always a great pleasure to attend the event, as I always learn about the amazing things that are happening in the town and the huge commitment of Swindon locals to helping others and making real difference in their communities.
I'm proud that the event was set up by one of my former Mannington & Western ward colleagues, Steve Wakefield, when he was Mayor of Swindon, and has grown every year since. The stories that I heard this year were an inspiring as ever, with the youngest recipient in her early teens being recognised for her work to raise awareness of diabetes and support sufferers and the oldest being a team of pensioners rewarded for their work running a lunch club that supports elderly residents and gives them a reason for leaving the house and socialising.
I was really pleased to see some people I knew receiving awards. Graham Carter, editor of the Swindon Heritage magazine, was rewarded for his part in organising the spectacular Battle of Britain commemoration last year, and Hannah Parry, of the Mechanics Institute Trust was recognised for the outstanding work she has done working out of the Central Community Centre.
I had been invited to the event as I nominated the Swindon-Calais Solidarity group for their tireless and vital work supporting refugees in the Calais 'jungle'. Anna-Marie and Darrell Edwards, Alison Thompson and Natalie North were present to be awarded a Pride of Swindon award by a personal hero of mine, Lord Joel Joffe. Joel is famous for being Nelson Mandela's lawyer at the Rivonia trial and the man who set up Zurich Insurance, and is a lovely, lovely man. For the Swindon-Calais Solidarity group to be receiving an award was a huge honour,but to be given it by a man who really deserves to be called a legend was a really special moment and was great to watch.
Swindon doesn't always get the credit that it deserves, but it is impossible to not walk out at the end of an event like the Pride of Swindon awards without a spring in your step and a real sense of pride in the town and the amazing people who live here…