The Mayor of Fylde, Councillor Angela Jacques, joined council leaders to personally thank staff and volunteers for their valiant efforts in the fight against Covid-19.
Representatives from Covid Response groups across Kirkham and Rural Fylde, St Anne’s and Lytham, three of the Mayor’s Covid-19 Hero award winners and young DofE participants, were invited to the online event.
Cllr Jacques thanked everyone for their continuing hard work and Cllr Thomas Threlfall, Chair of the Environment, Health and Housing committee, spoke about the life-changing work of the Fylde Community Hub which was launched in March last year to provide help for those in need during the pandemic.
Volunteers were asked to share their experiences and Holly Belshaw, who is a community worker at Light Church in Kirkham and set up the Kirkham and Rural Fylde Response team, was delighted to be part of the event.
She said: “We had already started to roll out a community support initiative in Kirkham and Wesham when we were contacted by the council to be part of the Fylde Community Hub.
“It made perfect sense for us all to link together to make sure every corner of Fylde was covered and we built a team of 45 volunteers in the weeks that followed.
“Looking back, the crisis really did ignite community spirit and people of all ages and backgrounds came forward to do their bit.”
DofE participants also stepped forward when the community needed them. From playing virtual board games with care home residents to delivering shopping, 301 young people carried out 2301 hours of voluntary work in 2020.
DofE Operations Manager, Lea Roberts, said: “It was fantastic to have DofE participants recognised for their volunteering contributions within the community of Fylde throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
The DofE has proven to be a vital focus for the mental health and wellbeing of so many young people and adult leaders throughout the global crisis. We are exceptionally proud of our DofE participants who have gone above and beyond to support the vulnerable in our society and thank their DofE Leaders, parents and carers for supporting their efforts.”
DofE Gold Award participant Thomas Hewitt, who attends Kirkham Grammar School added: “I know how beneficial volunteering has been to me personally and I hope it has been to those who I have helped and met.
Volunteering during these most challenging of times has provided me with a focus, perseverance and shown how effective community-wide volunteering can truly be.
It has been a privilege to be just one of the countless young people who have volunteered with the Duke of Edinburgh Award during this pandemic. We are indebted to the many organisations who willingly take us on.”
Volunteers Jon Byles Hardman, of Memories Made Photography, and Jon Boriss from Meridian Virtual Media, were named as Fylde Coast COVID-19 Heroes in 2020.
The pair, who are Freemasons, were recognised for their endless efforts to raise a smile while generating funds for the Fylde Foodbank.
From doorstep portrait photography in exchange for food bank donations to setting up virtual events for their fellow Freemasons and helping schools create special memories with socially distanced school leaver pictures, their help will be remembered by many generations in Fylde.
Jon said: “We felt very humbled to be named as Covid-19 Heroes as to us we were just doing what we could to make people smile during some very difficult times, so to be invited to this wonderful online event by the Mayor seemed surreal.
“Everyone has their own story to tell about how they have managed during the pandemic and we feel very proud to have been able to help so many people in lots of different ways.”
Drew Thompson, of Thompson and Hardwick Optometrists in Lytham, was another recipient of a Covid-19 Heroes Award for producing over 1500 face shields for critical workers during the difficult first wave of the pandemic.
He said: “It was wonderful to meet the Mayor online and hear about all the amazing work everyone else had done.
“We all had one goal in mind – to make a difference – and seeing the ways that everyone responded was truly inspiring, it certainly made my weekend!
The Leader of Fylde Council, Councillor Karen Buckley closed the event after expressing her deep gratitude. She said: “In the face of seemingly impossible adversity these volunteers, and many others, stood up to be counted and we will be forever grateful to them.
“Together they formed the backbone of the Fylde Community Hub along with 14 members of council staff to ensure that everybody got the help they needed.
“While Covid took so much from our community, these people came forward to give back. Each will be remembered for their efforts for a long time to come.
“We have recently rebranded The Fylde Community Hub to create more awareness about it.
“Following the recent announcement that more people will be asked to shield in the coming weeks it is vital that as many people as possible know about how we can help so we can continue to support our residents.”
For more information about the Fylde Community Hub, call 01253 658448 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.