WESTBURY’S Person of the Year 2011 is Wiltshire Air Ambulance shop manager Dot Whitehead.
Votes came in thick and fast in the poll organised by White Horse News to find the person who has had the most impact on life in the town during 2011 and Dot came out ahead of the two other candidates, Helen Bolwell and Eddie Bridges.
Dot has been managing the Wiltshire Air Ambulance Shop in Maristow Street since it was set up 14 years ago. In this time, the shop has raised over £1.5million for the appeal, and is now more important than ever since the Devizes store closed last year, leaving the Westbury shop as the charity’s only retail outlet.
Prior to the air ambulance shop, Dot also spent around 21 years managing Westbury’s Red Cross shop, bringing her years of volunteering in the town to over 35 years.
Although the shop has been Dot’s main project, she has also volunteered for other projects in the town including a local lunch club and holidays with the blind association.
Dot, who celebrated her 80th birthday in October, was delighted to receive the award but insists that it is a team effort that keeps the air ambulance shop running. “It’s something I didn’t expect! But I couldn’t do it without the girls in the shop,” she said.
Ian Drew, editor of the White Horse News, presented the winner’s shield to Dot last week. Ian said, “I’d like to congratulate Dot on being this year’s winner of the ‘Person of the Year’ competition. All of the nominees work extremely hard for their local community and they all have reason to be proud. We hope this award helps to highlight all the fantastic work which is carried out to help make Westbury such a great town.”
Other nominees were Helen Bolwell and Eddie Bridges. Helen raised £3,000 for Bath RUH’s Forever Friends Space to Grow campaign for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) in memory of her daughter, and has continued to fundraise tirelessly with husband Greg and barn owl Angel.
Eddie has been involved with a number of local charities, often taking on committee roles with a high level of responsibility. One of these is the Westbury branch of the Royal British Legion, of which he has been a member of since 1981 and is the branch’s president. He is currently investigating the deeds for Westbury Hospital, in an effort to prove the hospital belongs to the town, not the NHS.