Unsung heroes nominated for the Millennium Awards

Award winners, from left, Mike Warren, Jill Allen and Fiona Wright, with chairman Phil Bowell
Award winners, from left, Mike Warren, Jill Allen and Fiona Wright, with chairman Phil Bowell

NOMINATIONS for this year’s Steyning Millennium Awards were so exceptional, all three were chosen as winners.

Residents and friends gathered at the Steyning Centre to recognise special people in the town who work tirelessly for the community and have done for many years.

Among them were many who have made it a memorable year for Steyning, with an appearance from Arundel and South Downs MP Nick Herbert.

Steyning Parish Council chairman Phil Bowell said: “Three nominations were put forward and councillors had such a difficult time deciding, it was felt the right thing to do was to make the award to all three.”

Fiona Wright has been a driver of the Monday Friends Club’s minibus for more than 25 years.

The club chairman, Elizabeth Bower, nominated Fiona, saying she a very special woman.

“Fiona gives help and support to all she calls on, even going daily to one elderly member of our community to ensure the lady’s cat gets her pill.

“We sadly have elderly residents in Steyning who have no one else in their lives and Fiona has sat with one of these ladies, comforting her in her last hours.”

Fiona has also worked with Riding for the Disabled and Meals On Wheels, as well as taking books to the elderly with the mobile library service.

The chairman continued: “She now even fits in time to be a driver for Vintage Years. Fiona is a true unsung hero in Steyning.”

Jill Allen created South Downs District Woodcraft Folk in Steyning, as an alternative youth group to the Scout and Guide movements, more than 30 years ago.

She was attracted by the Woodcraft Folk movement’s co-educational membership, emphasis on co-operative working and its work in the community and the environment, as well as its wide range of activities for children with diverse backgrounds and abilities.

Jill recruited volunteers and created a group for the Chanctonbury area, covering ages six to eight with Elfins, nine to 12 with Pioneers and now Venturers for ages 13 and over.

She has inspired groups to attend international camps in the UK, where youngsters from all over Europe gather to exchange ideas and learn from each other.

Woodcraft members regularly perform maypole dances at the Steyning May Fair and give musical performances at the Steyning Christmas fair.

Last year, Jill raised funds to host ten teenagers from small villages in Kenya and this year, Steyning youngsters made a return visit to Kenya as guests.

People at the awards ceremony were told Jill’s energy, enthusiasm and leadership were an example to all.

Mike Warren was described as ‘a quiet, honest and very reliable man’ who has worked continuously in the community for more than 30 years.

He was a committee member of the Scouts in his early years and worked hard for Steyning Athletic Club, especially on race days. In the days of the Easter Monday Walking Race, he was responsible for the photos of all entrants that appeared in the sweet shop window, including all the children in the morning races and the walkers in the 15-mile event.

Mike has been an active member of Steyning Camera Club, being treasurer for 20 years, as well as treasurer of Steyning Horticultural Society.

Mr Bowell said Steyning was fortunate to have such selfless individuals who turn our year after year to support the community and especially those in need.

He made special mention of members of the Steyning Grammar School music society, who played during the evening.

“The standard was exceptionally high, with those present playing their own compositions – a truly wonderful effort,” added Mr Bowell.

He closed the evening by thanking the councillors and staff of Steyning Parish Council for working hard during ‘a particularly difficult year’ and said their efforts were highly appreciated.