Celebrating local heroes at this year’s Mayor’s Community Awards

Mayor Awards

The annual Mayor’s Community Awards ceremony took place on Monday 18 March, celebrating individuals who dedicate themselves to the helping communities in our borough.

On hosting the awards, Councillor Diane White, Mayor of Kingston, said: 

“It has been an honour to present this year’s Community Awards to our residents who inspire and help others. 


Our community is so much stronger thanks to those who show kindness and commitment to address inequalities, make our world a more beautiful place and we are very privileged that such wonderful people call our borough their home.


Congratulations and thank you to you all.”

The winners of the Mayor’s Community Awards 2024 are: 

Anthony Townsend

Tony started as a Police Volunteer back in 2001 at the old New Malden Police Station, staffing the front counter. He helped to run this for many years, serving the residents of New Malden and providing a vital link between the Police and the local community. Tony has also been an important and much respected member of New Malden Rotary Club since 2004. In that time, he was President of the committee twice, also serving as Chairman of International & Youth Exchange, Fundraising and Community Officer and Club Compliance Officer.

In January of this year Tony decided after 10 years to step down as chair for his Police Safer Neighbourhood Team, this ended a 23 year commitment to the Metropolitan Police Service and the people of New Malden.

Ian Price

Ian is a key volunteer for RBKares Charity which supports refugees, rough sleepers, foodbank clients, hospital staff, young carers and isolated residents. He also helps to run the local allotment and is a volunteer at the Rose Theatre.

He is an active member of the Norbiton community and helps local neighbours with gardening, odd jobs and supports more isolated neighbours. Ian is a focal point for bringing neighbours together and jointly leads the committee for organising increasingly popular street parties. 

Ian helps run RBKares monthly wellbeing days, where 15 services are bought together to support food bank clients - supporting mental, physical, financial and digital health. Using his cheerful demeanour to encourage participation, he has harnessed the kindness of the community and local services to create a one-stop-shop to help people in need.

Pam Wright and Jo-Anne Greene

Pam and Jo-Anne work together to make the environment around the Tudor Estate a great place to live. They are active members of the Tudor Library Friends litter picking group, always encouraging volunteers to join them. 

They are integral to the TuLF gardening group, where they designed the beautiful Jubilee Garden. Pam was pivotal in securing the funding needed to invest in the gardens, whilst Jo leads on planting and maintenance, encouraging families to get involved with activities, such as building bug hotels and planting shrubs, flowers and also vegetables, which are given to neighbours.

As well as being a great team in TuLF, they each do things individually to support the community. Jo volunteers as a Park Ranger, providing advice to people walking in Richmond Park, whilst every Sunday, Pam continues to provide companionship to a lady she supported as part of a ‘Read a Friend’ project during the pandemic.

Michele Lewington

Michele is the beating heart of New Era, an organisation that grew from a local food distribution project, started during lockdown, into a CIC with involvement in numerous projects across the borough. Michelle’s solid organisational skills, deep caring and friendly business style keep all of us volunteers engaged and willing.

Her organisational skills came to the fore in setting up the Square 1 cafe in Chessington. This involved: finding the location, overcoming the council's concerns about food hygiene,  writing many procedures and building a large team of willing volunteers, along with organising a strong social media campaign.

Her work has included contributions to many groups, especially in organising the surplus food collections from supermarkets, setting up and overseeing Square 1 wellbeing cafes at Chessington Sports Centre and the Hawker Centre, contributing to the Surbiton Community Fridge and setting up the Chessington Community Fridge.

Stefan Gross

Stefan has been nominated due to his commitment to his neighbourhood and the community through his stewardship of the Friends of Queens Promenade group. He took over as Chair only 18 months ago and has since achieved great things. These include the restoration of the 'Italian Garden' on the Promenade, the conception and delivery of a mural and sensory garden on the Queen's Promenade and participation in the coronation weekend’s 'Big Help Out'. 

Stefan dedicates enormous energy and time to making the group successful. Stefan has been lobbying and working with the Council to improve the Promenade. He has presented successful funding requests for critical repair work and very soon, we will see a raised seating area, formerly used as a bandstand, repaired and refurbished. And also, retaining walls rebuilt all along the promenade. 

Ceris Rayner and Lucy McDonald

Ceris is the Chair and Lucy is the Vice Chair of the Moving on Together (MOT) Team, which consists of a group of dedicated volunteers who have experience of supporting those who are recovering from drug and alcohol issues. This team offers a fantastic peer support service for people attending our local drug and alcohol treatment service called Kingston Wellbeing Service. 

They have been providing a drop-in at Kingsgate Church during 2022-23 and have now moved to the Queen Mary Hall every Thursday afternoon. A number of the guests attending have challenging lifestyles, are experiencing drug and alcohol issues or are homeless. 

Ceris and Lucy deserve this special recognition as their work with the MOT plays a key role in supporting people to get their lives back on track, which in turn has a positive impact on the wider community in Kingston. 

Janet Mackay

Janet has been a dedicated LEAH (Learn English at Home) volunteer for 20 years – their longest standing volunteer.

Janet has supported students with multiple challenges – some who have been trafficked to the UK, students with mental health issues or women who may have very low literacy levels due to a lack of education in their home country. 

Over the years, Janet’s many students have been from North & South Korea, Sudan, China, Afghanistan, Kurdistan, Iran, Sri Lanka and Syria – all with one thing in common, the desire to learn English and all needing help to settle in the borough. Janet has worked tirelessly by providing regular English lessons as well as an introduction to the borough and wider British customs and cultures.

John Bangs OBE

10 years ago, John came across Kingston Carers’ Network and has been a wonderful friend, advocate and supporter ever since, especially to the Young Carers’ Project, which supports over 800 children and young people aged 5-18. 

John plans, arranges and often personally funds, regular activities and collaboration between the K’s and our young carers. For three matches per season, YCP are guests of honour at a K’s match, young carers are mascots on the pitch, a wonderful lunch is provided, half term snacks, transport is also provided (when the K’s are based away from the borough), almost all personally funded by John. All young carers have access to K’s season tickets and there are family days where everyone is welcome. 

At our recent YCP Party Conference, John set up a “pick’n’mix” stall, providing free treats for 200 young carers. John gives his time and expertise as a specialist in carers and their rights. He has kindly played a huge part in the writing of the very important “All Age Kingston Carers’ Strategy” and is now contributing to the action plan. 

Justine Belcher

Justine works at Kingston Charitable Foundation and is the lead of three local organisations where she is valued as a clever, creative, inciteful and caring employee. 

She has helped research and design the Hot Lunch leaflet with RBKares, helping to signpost residents to places where there are free hot drinks, snacks, meals or even showers in the borough. Justine is on the transport team, volunteering with movement of donations and goods. She has helped with packing Warmer in Winter bags, dropped donations to people’s houses and other charities, wrapped presents for us at Christmas and helped decorate and host a Christmas party for the refugees and their families. Justine even raised over £500 for us by riding across the desert.

Justine has volunteered at the Save the World Club for the last two years and helped them at critical times during its development. Including the move of over 100 tons of furniture to our new base. She has advised on external sources of funding and has been part of volunteer teams working to organise and manage food and goods to be redistributed to those most in need. 

Natalie Walton

Natalie’s commitment to the community of New Malden is inspirational. Despite working full-time, she devotes hundreds of voluntary hours each year to the benefit of residents and visitors. She is the driving force behind Friends of Beeline Way, tirelessly leading weekly volunteering events.

From overseeing woodland management, fly-tip clearances and litter picks to creating a wildlife pond, orchestrating tree planting and sowing wildflower meadows, Natalie has been at the forefront of transformative initiatives. She has also cultivated a close working relationship with local developers to ensure the reinstatement and replanting of the Beeline Way entrance. 

The pro-active secretary of New Malden Residents’ Association, Natalie played a pivotal role in coordinating the New Malden railway bridge artwork installation, which contributes to the enhancement of surroundings. Also, for many years, Natalie was a local charity shop volunteer and even offered her home as an external drop off point for materials for a local sewing group set up to help NHS staff during the pandemic.

Suk Ha Kwon (to be presented in April)

Mr Kwon epitomises dedication, fostering enduring collaborations with organisations and providing unwavering support, within the Korean community. 

Mr Kwon quietly champions community integration and lends assistance. His profound commitment to harmonious understanding between the Korean diaspora and English culture has led him to write six enlightening books, with the aim of facilitating the seamless integration of Koreans into British society. 

He has volunteered with New Malden Police, helping with local law enforcement by supporting residents facing problems with language barriers with translation from Korean to English. He also volunteers with Victim Support, demonstrating his empathetic nature and desire to provide critical support in times of need.

Additionally, Mr Kwon is a member of the Patient Assembly at Kingston Hospital, actively participating in healthcare initiatives. His volunteering contributions across diverse sectors have made a comprehensive impact on the local community but despite the significant impact he has had, Mr Kwon remains humble, embodying selfless service. 

The winner of the Mayor’s Young Person’s Community Award is:

Eleni Barrett 

Eleni is the Communications Lead at Kingston and Richmond Youth Council and helped create surveys on racism and sexual harassment, which generated over 1,000 responses. Her example has encouraged many of her peers to take an interest in local politics and in effecting change for the future. 

Eleni has also contributed much to the local area through her campaigning to stop river pollution, her work with the Youth Council and as a leading Eco Council member at her school. She has been involved in the development of vegepods, campaigned for eco-friendly school meals and recycling services, as well as volunteering her time for litter picks.

Alongside this, Eleni displays her passion for helping others by acting as a mental health ambassador for the Youth Council and as a prefect and a student librarian. 

Published: 22nd March 2024