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Prestigious Mayor of Kingston award celebrates community stars

Sixteen community-minded locals were celebrated by Councillor Roy Arora, Mayor of the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames, at the prestigious annual Community Awards, held on Thursday 31 March.

Attended by Mayoress Manisha Arora and Colonel Geoffrey Godbold OBE, the Awards recognised those who have given up their own time, without prompting, to help other people in the community.

Councillor Roy Arora, Mayor of Kingston, said: 

“Whittling down the nominations to those who we felt most deserved an award was a task in itself. I feel incredibly proud to be part of a borough which has such a community focus. It was a pleasure meeting each and every award winner.”

The winners were: 

Alan Pettitt has been a volunteer for London Ambulance Service Community First Response unit for Kingston and Richmond since 2010. He also volunteers for the Victorian Pharmacy in Holly Lodge in Richmond Park.

Alison Persson has been part of the active Surbiton Business Community for a number of years, rising up the ranks to become Chair – all of which have been voluntary positions. 

Since retiring in 2003, Sister Angela Peter has spent her time volunteering for St Joseph’s Church’s night centre for the homeless and helping with the Sunday parish lunches for isolated older people. She is compassionate, thoughtful and extremely sensitive to the needs of older people.

Ann Chaplain joined the Metropolitan Police volunteer programme in 2003, helping station officers at the front counter. Ann has received numerous letters of thanks from members of the public and staff for her service and is known for providing a warm welcome for every member of the public.

Bill Downey is credited with the creation of the Kingston Aviation Project. Bill jointly led the Kingston Aviation Centenary Project; a four day public event which showcased Kingston’s aviation history.

Bona Shin, originally from South Korea, set up ‘Theatre for All’ - a charity which promotes art. She has also provided consistent support to the Metropolitan Police Service and the Korean community in Kingston.

Freda Lambert has been with local charity ‘Learn English at Home’ since 1991. As a volunteer English tutor, Freda has supported residents from ethnic minority backgrounds who have English as a second language, develop their skills and build confidence. 

James Giles is active in community news and local democracy and is Editor-In-Chief of Coombe Monthly magazine, which he created whilst studying at Coombe Boys’ School. James was also instrumental in setting up the ‘Kingston Question Time’ events.

Tom Hooker launched the successful Surbiton Wildlife Group and spearheaded the transformation of Claremont Crescent Gardens, also taking part in innovative fundraising activities. 

Tessa Kind is Chair of the Mill Street Residents’ Association, also finding the time to get involved in community projects such as Spring Grove Fringe Theatre, ‘Rich Man, Poor Man’ fundraising event and Love Kingston.

Michael Wharrad manages the highly successful Shiraz Mirza Community Halls in Norbiton and Manor Park, which are multi-cultural hubs serving their local communities. 

Margaret Bourner has been involved in local charity work since the early 1990s, from fundraising for Kingston Hospital’s ‘Scanner Appeal’ to becoming Secretary of the League of Friends of Kingston Hospital and continuing to fundraise for the hospital. Margaret also volunteers at Holly Lodge in Richmond Park. 

After 35 years as a Kingston GP, Michael D’Souza helped launch ‘One Norbiton Working Together’, quickly becoming Chair. Michael has also become trustee of the Cambridge Road Estate Community Group (CREst) and Kingston Voluntary Action.

Macille To is a founding member of Kingston Chinese Association (KCA), which promotes Chinese culture and provides educational and social activities for its members. Macille’s commitment over the years, running classes and organising events for members from all generations, has been integral to KCA’s success. 

Having started the second Malden Scout Group 12 years ago, Keith Axbey has led it to the thriving group it is today, with over 120 members. Dedicated and a great motivator, Keith has also spent the last ten years training over 25 local teenagers to achieve their British Canoe Union Level One coach qualification.

Keith Waller was presented with a community award initially announced in 2014/15 by former Kingston Mayor, Councillor Ken Smith, in recognition of his charitable and voluntary work, particularly as a Rotarian, to support the local community.

The borough’s CCTV Team received the Mayor’s Special Commendation award, for its hard work and professionalism. Regularly receiving letters of thanks and acknowledgement from emergency service groups, the CCTV Team works in partnership with local organisations to ensure that the borough’s residents and visitors are kept safe and well. 

A presentation will take place later this month to thank Glen Keywood, founding member of the BRaG Residents’ Association, and Trevor Willis, member of the Canbury Pavilion Trustees group, who were not able to attend the awards ceremony.