THE nominees for White Horse News’ Person of the Year 2015 competition have been shortlisted, and now readers are being asked to cast their vote on who they think should be crowned the winner. In our last issue, White Horse News asked readers to nominate their ‘Person of the Year’ – somebody in the town who deserves recognition for their outstanding actions over the past year or who has had the biggest impact on life in the town. Below are the shortlisted names. You can vote by simply emailing your choice to email@example.com (please include your own name and address) or by filling out the form on page 3 of your newspaper and returning it to Westbury Visitor Centre in the High Street or send it to White Horse News, 31 Market Place, Melksham. SN12 6ES. The deadline for voting is 5pm next Wednesday, 20th January.
Jack Bates is the team coach for Westbury Ladies’ Rugby Team, where he consistently gives his spare time to train a club of around 40 local women. Since Jack began coaching the team three years ago they have progressed from starting their first league season to currently standing in first place midway through the 2015/16 Women’s National Challenge South West North 2 season.
Jack’s nominee said, “Jack sees the importance that Westbury Ladies’ Team has in the community and continues to drive the awareness of the team with development days to encourage more players and is also looking to tie in with other schools and teams in the area.
“Jack understands that girls need encouragement into the game of rugby and that the sport has values and morals that are instilled in the players from a young age and have a positive impact on their lives.”
Jack coaches the team in his spare time in addition to his day job at Marshfield Farm Ice Cream.
Jack said, “I’m chuffed to have been nominated for the award; it’s completely unexpected. I’ve been coaching the team since my sister Claire set it up. I love rugby and play for Bradford on Avon, but I’m Westbury born and bred. I love the sport and coaching the ladies’ team is really rewarding – they’re a great bunch of girls and are very committed. It’s brilliant to see them progress and enjoy the sport, and it’s a special feeling for me seeing something I’ve put my time into succeed as I watch the players improve.”
Nigel has been a member of Westbury Lions Club for several years and is actively involved with its ongoing fundraising. He was president of the club for a year up to July 2015, a year which saw the club grow to be one of the biggest in the South West.
As well as running his own IT consulting business, in 2015 Nigel also helped run Lions events including the annual 10k run and the donkey derby, which together raised over £5,000 for local causes. He was also instrumental in organising the Lions Christmas float which takes Santa around the town during December.
Nigel said, “I’m surprised to have been nominated for the award because everything I do with the Lions club is a team effort.
“I do enjoy volunteering with the club and I always have. I’ve lived in Westbury all my life and it’s great to be part of an organisation that is able to give something back to the community.
“Sometimes it’s harder than others, like when you’re trying to run a Christmas float in the pouring rain, but it’s always worthwhile!”
Ian Cunningham has an ever growing number of hats to wear in Westbury as he continues his work as a town councillor, school governor, volunteer and event organiser.
In the autumn Ian again took the role of chair of Westbury’s eighth Music and Arts Festival, which boasted the biggest programme ever and saw around 50 events across the town in over two weeks of entertainment.
He was also active in local schools, standing as a governor at Dilton Marsh Primary School, Westbury Leigh Primary School, and chair of governors at Westbury Junior School, which saw a big jump in its SAT performances, and its first ‘Good’ Ofsted rating in ten years.
Ian is also a town councillor and chair of the Highways, Planning and Development Committee; a volunteer at Crosspoint; a member of All Saints Church, where his wife Julie is a warden; and a member of the BA13 Partnership.
Ian said, “I’m very touched to be nominated for the award, and am pleased with the success of the schools and festival this year. Westbury is a great town and I always feel that my work is worthwhile.
“There have been problems in the town but there are always people trying to improve life here, and I always find there are volunteers willing to help; it’s a very enthusiastic community.”
David is the founder, president and trustee of Imperial Charity, a Westbury organisation dedicated to offering special events and support to local elderly people and those with learning difficulties.
2015 marked 25 years since David set up the charity, which continues to go from strength to strength, running three charity shops in Westbury and organising other fundraising efforts.
Last year was an extremely busy one for Imperial, which organised day trips and special events to help children and adults in Westbury and across Wiltshire improve their quality of life. David is also on the committee of Mencap, a national charity dedicated to supporting people with learning difficulties.
His nominee said, “David has worked tirelessly again this year. And in the 25th anniversary year of Imperial Charity, I can’t think of anyone who deserves the title more of Westbury’s Person of the Year.”
David said, “I’m absolutely over the moon to have been nominated. We don’t expect anything in return for what we do, but it’s very nice to be recognised.
“I’ve always enjoyed the work we do at Imperial Charity and I don’t want to retire. I’m stepping back a bit but this has been my life for nearly 26 years, and I will keep involved for as long as I can.”
Bill has organised the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal in Westbury every year for nearly 30 years and has helped push the total raised up every time. He has also volunteered at the Heritage Centre in Westbury town centre for a number of years.
Bill, a former RAF serviceman, began organising the town’s appeal in 1988, and still shoulders most of the responsibility to this day, a duty that won him a civic award in 2014.
He makes sure that all poppy boxes are filled and delivered around the town and surrounding areas, and that donations are collected afterwards. He also takes charge of the display of wreaths ordered by various organisations for the Remembrance Parade.
Bill said, “Thank you very much for the nomination, I’m pleased to be chosen. I very much enjoy volunteering in the town, and as long as I’m active I will continue to do my bit.
“The Poppy Appeal is an important event for the British Legion and takes a lot of time and effort for the best part of the year to organise, but we’ve got a tried and tested method in Westbury and I enjoy the work; it keeps me young!”
Erica has long been involved in health services for people in the Westbury area, and is the current chair of Westbury and District League of Friends, but her role in the community took a step up in 2015 when she spearheaded the tireless campaign to try and save Westbury’s former hospital.
When it was announced that the hospital could be replaced by a housing estate, Erica took a central role in rallying angry residents at a protest and numerous meetings, taking the fight to local government and health authorities, and founding Westbury’s Sensible Thinking on Patients (STOP) group. She was also involved in the original protests to try and stop the hospital closing in 2012.
Erica has worked in the NHS for 50 years, and is passionate about healthcare for families and children. She still works as a practice nurse on an ad hoc basis at the White Horse Health Centre.
Her campaign work continues as STOP looks to fight for improved local healthcare in the future, and she remains chair of the League of Friends, which raised over £1,000 for the White Horse Health Centre last year.
Erica said, “I’m taken aback to have been nominated; it’s an honour. There are lots of other very deserving people who do a lot of work in the town.
“I’ve always loved the town. There is a great sense of community and the people are very generous.”
You can vote by simply emailing your choice to firstname.lastname@example.org (please include your own name and address) or by filling out the form on page 3 of your newspaper and returning it to Westbury Visitor Centre in the High Street or send it to White Horse News, 31 Market Place, Melksham. SN12 6ES. The deadline for voting is 5pm next Wednesday, 20th January.