A huge crowd of 500 looked on as 16 worthy winners received their Crawley Community Awards in a fantastic evening at the Hawth on Friday.
The awards are for people who have helped the Crawley community. There were more than 350 nominations for the 16 award categories. During the evening there were live performances from local music and dance groups. Footloose Dance Group, which provides weekly dance workshops for young people aged eight to 25 with learning difficulties and disabilities, performed a medley of songs from Bugsy Malone. West Sussex Youth Choir, Crawley Youth String Orchestra, and the Diva Dance Group all took to the stage and gave excellent performances.
The awards were organised by Crawley Borough Council, The Observer and The Hawth and sponsored by Gatwick Airport and K2 Crawley
The winners were:
1. Environment - Jenny Frost
Jenny is Secretary of the Ifield Village Conservation Area Advisory Committee, and very active in documenting and celebrating Ifield Village - that part of the neighbourhood which pre-dates the New Town. She contributes huge amounts of time and effort to the neighbourhood and is always willing and helpful while doing so. Accepting the award, Jenny said the committee’s success is a matter of group work, and is not down to any one person.
2. Fundraiser - Louisa Corley
Louisa is a charity fundraiser who worked with the Rotary Club to bring back the Father Christmas visits to the Pound Hill area managing to get donations of sweets and chocolate and organise the float and equipment. Children and their families were able to enjoy a real community event which raised much needed funds for local charities. She also set up the Pound Hill Residents’ page on Facebook.
3. Community Group - Tilgate parkrun
Tilgate parkrun members meet every Saturday at 9am for a 5k run. One new runner who nominated them said they allow everyone, whatever their shape, size, age or ability feel part of the Tilgate parkrun family. Another said: “They not only inspire others to achieve physically, they encourage scores of people to volunteer themselves thus adding to the community.”
4. Charity - The Posh Club
The Posh Club is described as ‘an event for swanky senior citizens, elegant elders and glamorous golden girls’. It features a classic high tea, fabulous live entertainment and the strict dress code is very posh. With growing numbers of older people suffering social isolation, the Posh Club Crawley are doing their bit to make sure that over 60s in our area have access to a regular club offering quality food, drink, entertainment and company.
5. Sports Person - Natalie Greenhough
21 year old Natalie took up judo around five years ago, as the local club’s only visually impaired member. Two years ago she was invited to train with the Great Britain Visually Impaired squad. She is the only female in the squad. Last summer Natalie was offered the chance to represent her country at the Paralympics in Rio. She had an amazing experience and finished in 7th place.
6. Sports Team - Flitecrew
Flitecrew Trampoline and Cheer Club have trampoline sessions at K2 five nights a week, and have recently launched Cheerleading as a new discipline. The club encourages performers of all ages to compete from county to international level and they have entered over 350 competitions all over the country.
7. Culture - The Apple Tree Centre
The Apple Tree Centre is a community project created by the Gurjar Hindu Union, offering excellent celebration, business and sporting uses, a Day Centre for older people, basic skills training in English and IT, culture classes including classic and modern Indian dance and language, and cultural activities like Indian cookery demonstrations and music recitals.
8. Performing Arts - COS Musical Theatre
COS. Musical Theatre celebrate their 60th Anniversary this year. Formed in 1957 as Crawley Operatic Society, the group have grown and evolved thanks to a dedicated group of volunteers. All ages are encouraged to get involved. Their next production - Spamalot - will be at The Hawth between June 1 and 3.
9. Education - David Reid
David is Head Teacher of Manor Green Primary School in Ifield, specialising in educating children aged 2-11 with learning difficulties. The school has had two consecutive ‘Outstanding’ OFSTED reports. One parent commented: “David has created setting which is bright, colourful, friendly and welcoming. He has that special something.”
10. Local Hero - Maria Cook
Maria is chairperson of Autism Support Crawley and is Autism Ambassador for Gatwick Airport. Her achievements include introducing specialist shopping trolleys into Sainsbury’s, now available throughout the county, and the Hawth’s first ever ‘relaxed’ pantomime for young people with autism. A fully accessible hoist assisted toilet facility will be officially opened at County Mall in May.
11. Volunteer - Beverly Loxston-Bown
Beverly founded the Forget me Not Club for family, friends and carers of people living with dementia, meeting on Tuesdays and Fridays in Three Bridges, so people can meet others who understand the issues they face in supporting someone with dementia. As well as all the help, advice and support provided, they also have fun and eat lots of cake!
12. Volunteer Group - Gravity Youth Club
Gravity Youth Club is a Friday night club for people with learning disabilities, who might otherwise be socially isolated. Volunteers provide games, arts and crafts, discos and trips out, and organise fundraisers.
13. Support Group - Rape Crisis Surrey and Sussex
Rape Crisis Surrey and Sussex provides specialist, independent support to women who have experienced sexual abuse or violence at any time in their lives. In less than two years, they have supported more than 300 local women through counselling and advocacy often transforming their lives, enabling and empowering them to recover.
14. Ind. Achievement - Katie-George Dunlevy
Katie-George, from Crawley, is registered blind. She has won two gold World Championship medals in para-rowing. She has represented Ireland in Para-cycling, partnered by her pilot Eve McCrystal. At the Paralympics in Rio they won Gold in the Time Trial and Silver in the Road Race.
15. Group Achievement - Crawley Old Girls
Crawley Old Girls are a football team with around 70 members. Many had never played football before they joined. They have participated in the People’s Cup, played at Wembley, been visited by the Minister for Sport, and won a prestigious Football Association award.
16. Inspiration - Paul Masters
Paul is Group Scout Leader for the 7th Crawley Scouts. Despite suffering PTSD from a life-changing car accident, Paul continues to run the successful scout group. Accepting the award, he said: “The kids are the inspiration. They so enjoy getting involved in the community, doing challenges and helping people.”
As Friday was his birthday, a group of scouts made a surprise appearance on stage to sing Happy Birthday.