Wandsworth celebrates 'inspirational' volunteers

Published: 5 December 2012

Six volunteers whose community work has been deemed a “shining example of unselfish giving” have been honoured at the borough’s annual Civic Awards.

Several hundred guests gathered in Wandsworth's Civic Suite on November 28 to applaud the award winners, who regularly give up their time to help others.

The individuals celebrated this year are responsible for a variety of volunteer work that goes on in the borough, such as a self-made businessman who has spent 25 years supporting children's sport locally and a musician who has for half a century been making music accessible to all in the borough.

Presenting them with their awards, Mayor of Wandsworth, Councillor Adrian Knowles, admitted to being "humbled" by the amount of work the six men and women have done for Wandsworth's community - without expecting anything in return.

He said: "Their work is a shining example of unselfish giving. They do not make any fuss or seek praise for their efforts - they simply give their time freely just because they want to help others.

"We should all be proud that these unsung heroes live in Wandsworth - it is people like them who make this borough such a good and caring place in which to live.

"They are an inspiration to the rest of us and I am pleased that their tireless efforts to help others have been recognised."

The recipients of a 2012 Civic Award were:

Keith Stent

Keith Stent has spent half a century making music accessible to everyone living in Wandsworth. As a conductor and director of the Wandsworth Symphony Orchestra (WSO) he has helped bring live orchestral music to the borough since 1963, giving enjoyment and purpose to players and listeners from all walks of life. Keith, who also sets aside time to work with young musicians in Wandsworth, described his Civic Award as "a welcome surprise, which reflects the dedication of the members of the orchestra". WSO has played countless charity concerts over the years and, under Keith's leadership, now has waiting lists for several sections.

Nick Steiner

A retired fireman and current Justice of the Peace was acknowledged for going the extra mile in his community work. Nick Steiner started the first Neighbourhood Watch in the Southfields Grid, was a parent governor at the former Southfields School , sits on his local doctors surgery patient panel - and is a founding member and chairman of the Friends of Wimbledon Park. He said winning a Civic Award "seemed unreal", adding: "Volunteering is important because it fills the gaps service providers can't fill, provides a means to scrutiny, chivvy and challenge so that things get done, can deliver new services, builds a community spirit and can cross borders and ownerships."

Mozir Uddin Ahmed

When Mozir Uddin Ahmed moved to England in 1966, he spoke little English. In 1988, he settled in Wandsworth where he opened "the Standard" - one of the first restaurants in the country to serve traditional Bangladeshi cuisine - before launching the Putney Tandoori. Over the past 25 years he has conquered the language barrier - and recovered from a heart attack and triple-bypass operation - to establish himself as a well-respected community volunteer. Mozir has been financially supporting local children's sports teams for nearly a quarter of a century through a community programme - including children's 7 a-side football team Mango Putney. He has also been an advocate for local businesses, promoted inter-faith cooperation and helped to raise £10,000 in donations for flood victims in Bangladesh.

Helen Hughes

A special sergeant at Wandsworth police who averages about 800 hours every year in her voluntary role was recognised for helping to safeguard the borough's people and property. Helen Hughes, a volunteer police officer for 13 years who lives and works in Tooting, has been instrumental in mentoring and assisting new recruits who have joined the special constabulary in Wandsworth. During her time volunteering in Wandsworth, Helen has helped out at many community events, worked with children in local schools, been heavily involved with the Community Policing Contact Centre (the first police office in a mosque in the UK) - as well as assisting regular officers with 999 calls.

Staff Sergeant Niall Rymill

A detachment commander at 132 Royal Signals Detachment based in Southfields, 23-year-old Niall Rymill is the youngest of this year's Civic Awards winners. Four years ago, Staff Sergeant Niall Rymill, who was himself a cadet in the unit, heard it had been forced to close. But on hearing this, he returned as an instructor to help reopen it, and the unit now boasts more than twenty cadets and four instructors. The cadets he teaches describe him as "a brilliant teacher" and "a good role model".

Alison Angus

Mother-of-five Alison Angus has worked diligently and enthusiastically to build a strong community within Wandsworth's Allfarthing School as head of the Parent Teacher Association. A volunteer at the school for many years, Alison is continually on the look out for ways to support the children. Last year she showed tremendous initiative and an ability to stretch limited resources by setting up a local playgroup - creating a much needed resource for adults with pre school children.

Aside from the six Civic Award winners, the event featured another success story in the form of a charity collection, which raised £1,460 for the mayor's chosen charities - Oak Lodge School for deaf children and The Royal Marsden Hospital.

For more information about the Civic Awards visit www.wandsworth.gov.uk/civicawards. View more photos taken at this year's awards ceremony.