‘All You Need is Love’ Says Town Medal Awardee

Honorary President of the Chiltern Centre and Chair of South Oxfordshire Mencap, Paul Barrett was presented with a Town Medal yesterday for his volunteer work which he has loved doing over 20+years.

Henley Mayor, Councillor Kellie Hinton before presenting Paul’s medal said, “I’m really pleased we’re all here together to honour a wonderful local man and his dedication to our town for many, many years.  Perhaps Paul is most well-known for his work with the Chiltern Centre.  For over 20 years, Paul has been the driving force behind the charity, which celebrated its 20th anniversary just a few months ago with a wonderful fundraising event at Badgemore Park.  Pushing ahead on fundraising, securing the building on Greys Road and generally making sure that the Chiltern Centre is well supported and a well used community facility benefiting thousands of young disabled people and their families. The work that he has done for the Chiltern Centre alone has been more than enough to be nominated and awarded a Town Medal.  It is far from all he has done in Henley.”

This is not Paul’s first award; he was awarded an OBE and CMG for his work with trade missions to Africa in the past.  His work with South Oxfordshire Mencap led him to join the Action Group to save the Chiltern Centre from closure in 2002/3 by the County Council.

Kellie added, “When I was Mayor six years ago, I was invited to the Mencap party and we had terrible snow that day, so we were all shovelling literally outside in Market Place and I wasn’t able to attend the party.  So imagine by joy, unexpectedly becoming Mayor again before last year’s Christmas party.  I will say it was definitely worth the 6 year wait and there was no snow which we were grateful for.”

“Henley is a unique town, we’re not the biggest.  We are so lucky to have so many wonderful organisation and individuals such as Paul who contribute so greatly to the town that it changes the course of our history and leaves a legacy.  We call these people Community Champions and that is what Paul is to Henley.    Thank you to him for making Henley a better place.”

After receiving the award Paul said, “This actually is not all about me; I can only accept this wonderful honour that the town has given me if I’m allowed to do so on behalf of all people in this room.  I was the lucky so and so, metaphorically given the baton to go up on the podium and conduct the orchestra.  I didn’t make the music, the music was made by all of you and without the music there would have been no me and no town medal.  Although it is true that the Chiltern Centre celebrated 20 years last year, we celebrated 20 years of his existence, its registration and it being founded.  We actually opened our doors for the first time in February 2004 so it’s very appropriate that I’m receiving this, this month and this year, because it is the 20th anniversary of our operation. I’m honoured to still be the Honorary President of the Chiltern Centre and a lot of that is involved in our hopeful move to Highlands Park but the future of the centre is in the hands of Gareth, Centre Manager who is doing wonderful job.  We are at full capacity and that is why we are hoping to move and we have 20 families who we can’t give care to because we just don’t have the capacity.  I’m pleased that I also have a very worthy successor of the Chair of Trustees, Ivor Lloyd.”

Paul then went on to thank people from South Oxfordshire Mencap which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year including the founder Melba Pitt who will be 100 in November.  He also spoke about the Henley Volunteer Bureau who take people to hospital and GP appointments and thanked Henley Town Councillors for volunteering their time.

Paul concluded by saying, “Over the years, all the charities I’ve been involved in, is about love. The Beatles said, All You Need is Love.  It’s true that when you look at the work that Gareth and his team do at the Chiltern Centre, when you look at the work all our Mencap volunteers do, they are loving what they are doing and they’re loving the people and getting love in return. In accepting this medal, I’m seeing that Henley is recognising that everybody counts, that everybody as a person deserves to be valued and whether that is a person with a learning disability or downs, they have a contribution to make to society.  I have often been much better as a person by having contact with such people and it’s been a privilege.  I just want to say thanks to all of you, Henley’s beating heart is love.”


1 comment
  1. Geoffrey Walsh says:

    What a superb article. Nobody at all can possibly deny that Paul Barrett is just a fabulous local hero for charitable causes in Henley. It is wonderful that Kelly Hinton our Town Mayor has presented Paul with the Town Medal and has given such a wonderful account of the reasons why this is so.
    Under Paul’s leadership of and dedication to Mencap, South Oxfordshire in particular, we at Thames Lodge of Freemasons and of our Oxfordshire Provincial Masonic charity giving last month by Mark Adams our Provincial Grand Charity Steward are very pleased indeed to be providing support for this excellent local cause.
    Very best regards,

    Geoff Walsh
    Thames Lodge of Freemasons


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