Voting Opens for 2023 Community Champion Awards

The public voting opens today for the 2023 Herald Community Champion Awards.  Thanks to everyone who took the time to nominate the special people below. Congratulations to everyone who has been nominated.  Please vote for ONE person in EACH award. If you really can’t decide – click this box.  Then hit the VOTE button at the bottom.  You can only vote ONCE.  Voting closes on 30 November at 5pm. The winners will be announced at the Awards Party on Friday 2 February 2024 at Henley Rugby Club.  The party will be sponsored by Manning UK and will be raising money for Henley Music School.

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Charity Champion

Sponsored by Henley Self Storage

Elin Barr – Cancer Research

Elin is 13 and has lived in Henley all her life. She has organised charity stalls at the Cookham Regatta and Cookham Easter Trail. Recently she ran the Henley half marathon, raising £800 for cancer research motivated by her Granddad's recent cancer diagnosis.

Lucy Bowley – Regatta for Disabled

Lucy has worked tirelessly in her role as Chairperson for R4D. Her enthusiasm, encouragement and determination is passed on to the R4D Committee Members in ensuring the success of Regatta for the Disabled, a one day event held annually (for the last 14 years) in Henley for people with all manner of disabilities - children, adults and their carers and families.
Lucy has met any challenge full on and has not been discouraged from issues such as Covid. Her bright persona and 'let’s get on with it' attitude has made Regatta for the Disabled a successful, worthwhile and most enjoyable event for all.
Lucy Bowley is a fantastic nominee for this award.

Catherine Carr – Chiltern Centre

Catherine has tirelessly raised money for the Chiltern Centre in 2023 - with a huge smile and a full heart!
From selling homemade honey on their farm to abseiling down a London skyscraper and hosting a fantastic family fete with tractor rides to see sunflowers, music, food and fun for all the family, all in aid of the Chiltern Centre. Her enthusiasm and kindness has shone through as she has raised an incredible amount of money for us with the help of her wonderful family. Local support like this means the world to us and really can change lives.

Tim Dodd-Wilson – Macmillan Cancer Support
Tim gives up so many weekends to showcase Big Duck Lilly on the River Thames and sometimes even on dry land! Lilly has become a much loved Henley resident and Tim has raised over £34k for Macmillan Cancer Support from her appearances. When I was putting together the Henley playing cards, I really wanted Lilly to have her own card as I think she's a true gem of Henley. Her appearance always makes folk smile. Tim came along to the launch of the Henley playing cards with Lilly. Tim does all of this in his own time and he's always got a smile on his face. He even ensured Lilly had a diamond necklace for the event as she's the 2 of diamonds in the pack. He's a true Henley champion and he makes the fine town even better.

Gaynor Peel – MotherSisterDaughter
Gay has worked tirelessly from the beginning of MSD and has never failed to deliver on her commitments. She spends her days driving all over Henley and the surrounding areas to collect donations that are either for specific requests to help our Ukrainian families or charity donations for us to raise money with. She has been an incredible support to me and a fundamental reason in us being able to continue providing weekly coffee mornings for our Ukrainian community, and without her, there would have been several months this year where we would have had to potentially close the meetings. She is an incredibly supportive and committed member of the team and truly believes in what she does and has a real desire to give back to the local community. She also works in one of the local charity shops as well and has done this for something like 20 years.

Charity Champion
Community Champion

Sponsored THP Solicitors

Alison Engleby and Louise Sadler – Henley WI

Alison and Louise have made so many folk stop and smile to admire their handiwork on top of Henley's post boxes. After I first saw their Christmas toppers in December 2022, I contacted them to ask if they'd do some playing cards themed ones for the launch of the Henley Playing Cards. From the moment they went up, I was absolutely amazed by the work and detail that had gone into them. The one outside Crew Clothing was an engineering triumph to create a three-tiered house of cards. Their continued work is always a delight to admire and still continues to be celebrated. It's these acts of creativity that make Henley's community feel proud of where we live. I'm so pleased to have met them as they're great people and dedicate hours to these wonderful post box toppers for our benefit.

Derek Gilbert – Kenton Theatre
Derek started volunteering at The Kenton 20 years ago which included eight years as a Trustee on the Board.  He is currently a Front of House Manager and in the last year alone has overseen 50 nights of performances – always with his trademark dinner jacket and dickie bow!

In addition to this, Derek also helps train new volunteers in the role of Front of House Manager.

Despite having had a heart attack two years ago, upon his recovery, Derek returned to support the theatre. His dedication and positivity for The Kenton has made it possible for us to open night after night and to keep the shows coming for all of the Henley community and beyond.

Andrew Gosby – Fire & Rescue Service
Andrew has dedicated 18 years of service to the community of Henley through being an on call firefighter. Given up his free time to respond to emergency call outs.

Attending events and schools within the community. Crew manager Andrew Gosby goes out his way to help residents with safety information and visits to their home especially the vulnerable residents of the town.

Lucy Herbert – Rivertime Trust
Lucy goes out her way to support the disabled and elderly to get them out on the river and give them the ability to see what anyone else could! She gives the ability of freedom and is a lovely person to be around. She words hard for Rivertime boat trust and should finally see how hard she works.

Sarah Miller (Former Henley Mayor)
Sarah has been amazing for our lovely town and a wonderful Mayor. Sarah has had to step down from her term as Mayor but she has been a real champion in our community with her many initiatives.

Lou Porter - Henley Hawks Netball Club
Lou is a key member of Henley Hawks Netball Club. She has been the driving force to get many women back to netball, men started in netball and juniors learning how to play and enjoy netball. On top of that she has spearheaded a campaign to raise money for new floodlights so that more people can enjoy netball throughout the winter months. She has had a hard year losing her dad but always turns up with a smile and we are so appreciative of everything she has done and continue do. The club has grown so much with the ambition of creating a love of netball for all.

Tom Scott – Henley Tennis Club
Tom has done some great work in our Henley Community and is an asset to our town. In the 3 years he’s been at the club he has single handily raised over £4000 for various charities such as Nomad and Mayor’s Charities. He’s given up his own time to offer free lessons and tennis leaders donating all proceeds to charity and most recently ran sessions on teacher strike days. To top it off he’s now given over 900 of our school children 10 hours of free tennis lessons in school time. He is always at the club striving to make it the better and make tennis known in Henley. Tom (and his family) are an asset to Henley and is thoroughly deserving of this award.

Simony Wylie – The Bell Surgery
Nurse Simone is dedicated to her patients and will go above and beyond to support them and care for them in the most thoughtful way always sensitive to make them feel safe and comfortable. She has recently gone above and beyond in caring for me for over 2 months and not only kept me cheerful and motivated during a very challenging and slow recovery time following an emergency procedure but she is known for being exceptional at going that extra mile to provide the highest levels of service to all her patients. We are very lucky to have such a dedicated and caring nurse serving our community sometimes under super challenging circumstances!! Along with the entire nursing team at the Bell Surgery, Nurse Simone specifically and definitely is someone who needs to celebrated and recognised for her incredible dedication to her patients and the positive impact she has on so many lives. 

Community Champion
Heart of Gold Neighbour

Sponsored by Meadow Farm Studio

Tony Hoskins
Not only is Tony Hoskins an incredible neighbour, but he also ran the 20's Plenty Campaign to get St Marks and St Andrews Road a 20mph zone. Tony was successful, we're just waiting for the Council to implement it now.

Helen “Bucket” Prescot
She has organized a street party every year for almost 20 years - not only when there is a Royal occasion to celebrate but every, single summer to allow her neighbours (many of whom live alone) to come together, providing food and drink for everybody who wants to join.

Sue Rippon
Sue has been so kind to offer vegetables and fruit from her allotment to neighbours.

Jo Saunders
Josephine Saunders has a huge heart and does so much for our local community. She raised over £2,000 for bowel babe, Dane Deborah James charity, she works with reading family aid, she runs many charitable events. Jo is that understated neighbour that will check in on you to make sure you’re ok. She organised a street party and invited neighbours both near and beyond including those in the local parish and retirement flats. She is so kind and humble and incredibly deserving of this award!

Rita Szucs
Rita is a wonderful neighbour who regularly tends everyone’s front gardens freely come rain or shine. She is often seen tending plants and watering them religious through the summer months whether people are away or just too busy. She has become a committed support to some of our more elderly neighbours who have come to really depend on her gardening support and friendship. She will often go to the garden centre on their behalf and research the right plants for them and bring so much joy to those who love their garden but are less able to work in them or maintain them. She is a fabulous member of our local neighbourhood and is always a friendly face to everyone and is extremely deserving of this award.

Heart of Gold Neighbour
Customer Service Champion

Sponsored by Brakspear

Tracey Ball – Wild & Rust
Nothing is too much trouble for Tracey - always thinking about the customer and customer experience her thoughtfulness is endless and she makes a point of learning to know customers to ensure she understands their needs and requirements. Our little Team at Wild & Rust is so lucky to have her and so many of our customers tell me that or compliment her service. Her work ethos and ethic is second to none and she is such a pleasure to work with. She deserves so much more than a nomination for Customer Service Champion but it’s a good place to start to show her just how much she is valued by our Team and adored by our customers.

Zoe Ferriera – The Henley Larder
Zoe really cares about her customers, both the dog variety and the human ones too! Makes a huge effort with feedback on items in the shop, opening hours (polling on social media what days / times, and also responding to F2F feedback) and the human element really appeals to me. When I go and see friends for a weekend, I pop into the Henley Larder for some ‘Henley’ treats knowing it will be a lovely experience and they will have great products.

Jenny – Henley Post Office
Jenny has single handedly kept the Henley Post Office running, very often in difficult circumstances both during and coming out of lockdown. She works extremely hard to ensure everyone is attended to and always has time to give my dog Narla a treat every Monday. I would love her to receive this award.

Kay Hayes – Ice Cream Hut
No matter what the weather Kay is in her little ice cream hut trying to keep her little business afloat with the weather we have had this year it has been extremely difficult especially with it being a seasonal. Kay always has a smile and extremely good manners and always something to say regardless who you are. Well done Kay keep going strong!!

Jonathan Jackson – Oxfam Bookshop
We love the Oxfam bookshop in Henley. Jonathan is so organised and always very helpful.

Vicky Lehaj – Top to Toe
Vicky always manages to give great customer service despite what may be happening in her life. She has worked at Top to Toe for many years and I believe that she trained at Henley College. She deserves an award for all the unofficial counselling she provides clients. Despite all the new premises opening up in the same beauty business it doesn’t phase her as she has a devoted client bank who return for her professionalism and knowledge of her trade.

Omid – Cartridge Zone
Omid is always helpful, sometimes going above and beyond by delivering items to the customer’s home. He is always cheerful in spite of his own hardships and his journey to date - which is not generally known.

Customer Service Champion
Top Teacher/TA

Sponsored by Southern Plant & Tool Hire

Isabelle Bower – Rupert House School

Isabelle has been a huge support to the children of KS1 and has made a huge positive impact on the children who struggle to access the curriculum. With her invaluable intervention groups, in class support and can do attitude, we have seen children who find school a bit more of a challenge, make progress in leaps and bounds. The children adore her and the staff love working with her.

Tim Coulson – Valley Road
In one word - He is an amazing human being and a great Headteacher. He has a cheerful attitude that benefits his students. All of his students love him a lot.

Beth Evans – Trinity School
Ruby age 4 says “I like Miss Evans because she’s a good teacher. She gives me hugs when I hurt myself and she makes me feel like I want to invite her to my birthday party”. Fifi age 6 says “I used to be scared about going to school and Miss Evans would hold my hand and make me feel better.”
As a parent I feel happy leaving my kids with Beth every day. She is extremely patient, caring and competent. Reception is a much better place because she’s there every day.

Olivia Lamb – Rupert House School
Liv is more than a TA at Rupert House, she is the wellbeing and mental health support for all children in the Pre-Prep and for our staff as well. She is a shoulder to cry on, a listening ear and will always be on hand with a cup of tea and advice. Not only does she do outstanding work in the classroom but she is integral support for the staff and students of Rupert House School. Liv will always go above and beyond and is definitely deserving of this prestigious award.

Steph Maxwell – Divas and Dudes Dance Academy
Steph deserves to win Best Teacher for the energy, enthusiasm and fun she puts into her dance school. Steph teaches a range of dance styles to children in the Henley area and makes her classes enjoyable and inclusive for all. This year, she has pulled together an amazing dance show for all students at the Kenton Theatre and supported 41 students through their ballet exam, achieving fantastic results. It is clear that Steph loves what she does and genuinely cares about bringing the best out of her students. She has true community spirit.

Nothing is too much trouble for Steph, she is adored by the children 3-18. Steph is a person who always puts the community and children first and is keen to give every child an opportunity to shine and reach their potential. All in all she is fantastic, a great role model for children and adults alike. Henley wouldn’t be the same without you Steph!

Susie Newman – Rupert House School
Susie works tirelessly all day, every day. She expertly juggles being a form teacher with being a deputy head, safeguarding expert and pastoral lead. She knows and cares for every child at the school. If there’s a problem, she solves it. She’s been at Rupert House for many years and is loved by both parents and children.

Lucy Robinson – Badgemore School
Ms Robinson is a truly outstanding teacher who brings out the best in every pupil. She is always ready to welcome the children in to their class with a smile and a kind word. She engages every child in the class with her enthusiastic, imaginative and dynamic teaching style. She regularly invites families in to the classroom to see lessons in action, to support parents to understand how they can help their children and to build up a really strong and vibrant community. As a parent, I feel so grateful that there are teachers like Ms Robinson in this world. 

Caroline Sweetman – Springbox Gymnastics
Caroline has spent the last 30 plus years teaching children this is for the love of the children and gymnastics and encouraging all the children to do their best. She is also an extremely kind teacher mentor to her staff and has helped many coaches through coaching qualifications to help even more children grow. Caroline is the centre of Springbox and we all love her very much. 

Top Teacher/TA
Young Sporting Superstar

Sponsored by IBS Office Solutions

Elin Barr - Athlete
I am nominating Elin Barr as she has shown amazing strength and perseverance to run the Henley Half Marathon at just 13 year of age, the youngest this year. She ran in an outstanding time for her first run and raised £800 for cancer research motivated by her Granddad’s recent cancer diagnosis. I can’t think of anyone more deserving young athlete.

Abi Botterill - Netball
Abi joined Shiplake College in Year 12 in 2022, having attended Gillotts School. She started playing U14s netball at Woodley Netball Club and soon after was scouted for Academy Netball at London Pulse, one of clubs in the Netball Super League. In January 2023, Abi was selected for the U19 London Pulse Competition Squad. In October 2023 she was selected for the U21 London Pulse squad - an amazing achievement, particularly from a 17-year-old! Abi is Joint Head of College and is also a netball scholar and Captain of Netball at Shiplake and is a fantastic role model.

Nonnie Luke - Rowing
Nonnie (Rhiannon) Luke won a silver medal at the junior world rowing championships this year in the coxless four. Having learned to row at Henley Rowing Club and after a couple of tough years she demonstrated her resilience in final trials moving up through the selection to come out in the top boat. A huge inspiration to follow your dreams and never give up.

Toby Williams - Football
Shiplake College Year 9 pupil Toby Williams recently signed for Crystal Palace Football Academy’s U14 team as part of the club’s player pathway. Toby trains four to five times a week at Crystal Palace, with fixtures on Sundays. His Housemaster comments: “Toby is an extremely passionate and dedicated student both academically and on the sports pitch. He brings a positivity to the house and indeed Shiplake College”. Toby hopes to be re-signed at the end of the season and gain a two-year contract of four-year scholarship and is aiming to be a professional football in the future. 

Young Sporting Superstar
  1. Barbara Smith says:

    I know that Beth has had some personal issues in the past and she has overcome those to move forward as an incredible young woman that she now is
    some struggles are not always visible .

  2. Helen Jennifer Thomas says:

    Having known Tom Scott for many years he has always impressed me with his dedication to coaching and since he joined Henley Tennis club he has worked tirelessly to make the club as inclusive and friendly as possible. No one has worked harder with both adults and children to bring tennis to everyone.


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