Leamington Rotary Club awards those who have shown community spirit
People who give selfless service to their community have been publicly acknowledged by the Rotary Club of Royal Leamington Spa.
Volunteers Jayne Canning, Keith Bell and members of the Leamington Street Pastors received Community Spirit Awards from the Rotary Club at a ceremony at the Angel Hotel in Leamington on March 22.
Club president Barry Frith said: “We were delighted to be able to recognise these worthy recipients of our Community Spirit Award.
“The Rotary club motto of ‘service above self’ is well exemplified by the recipients, who selflessly give their time and energy to those members of the community who need help and support in various ways.”
Mrs Canning, 62, has been an active member of the Warwick district branch of the MS Society for many years and is its former chairman.
She has been a regular fund- raiser and in the past campaigned to keep the Helen Ley Care Centre open when it was under threat of closure five years ago.
On receiving the award she said: “It was unexpected and a sheer delight.”
These days, Mrs Canning is the chairman of the Painting for Pleasure group which is aimed at disabled people, their carers and friends or just anybody who wants to try art for enjoyment.
She has been involved with the group - which holds morning and afternoon sessions for around 15 members each time on Wednesdays at the Boys Club in Westley Road- for 12 years.
Mrs Canning said: “It doesn’t matter how good you are at art, as long as you can come along and liking drinking coffee or tea and eating biscuits that’s the main thing.”
A wheelchair user herself, who is well supported by her husband John, Mrs Canning is also a founding member of and event organiser for the Leamington Shopmobility scheme.
Ever since he moved to Leamington from Sheffield 16 years ago after the death of his wife Eva for whom he was a carer for several years, Mr Bell has ran a lunch club under the umbrella of Age UK on Thursdays at Chandos Court.
Mr Bell organises trips and holidays for members.
A former healthcare assistant who once worked at the Leamington Rehabilitation Hospital, Mr Bell - now 72 - used to always ensure he could take a day off on Thursdays to run the club.
He is involved in many areas of voluntary work including working as a receptionist for Warwickshire Community and Voluntary Action based in Clemens Street.
Mr Bell said: “I feel very humbled to receive this award from the Rotary Club.
“I love running the lunch club, they’re a lovely crowd.
“It’s nice for volunteers to be recognised and this award is for the others who help out at the club as well.”
The Leamington Street Pastors patrol the Warwick Street and Bedford Street area in teams of three or four from 10pm to 4am on Saturday nights offering non-judgemental care and support through listening and practical help.
The volunteers are drawn from Christian churches around Leamington and work in conjunction with Warwick District Council, having been established with the encouragement of MP Chris White and the then Warwick Chief Constable Andy Parker.
Paul Newton, who is secretary to the trustees for the street pastors, said: “People out in the street welcome us and people in the nighttime community, including bar staff and police, recognise us too.
“But those who do not go out so much at night maybe are not quite so aware so it is nice now to have been recognised by them as well.”
A typical night’s activities for the pastors include giving out bottles of water to counter alcohol dehydration, watching out for vulnerable people and getting appropriate assistance where needed, helping with phone calls, reducing confrontational tensions, greeting people and generally fostering a happier and calmer atmosphere.