People's Choice Award voting now open! Read about the fantastic people in our shortlist then cast your vote below! One vote per person Voting closes on Monday 27th November at 5pm Mark Godfrey, May Bush Inn Words to describe Mark: Dedicated, driven, Selfless, trustworthy, valuable Mark completely drove the project of the community purchasing the Maybush Inn from conception to getting everyone together and involved, creating the community shares prospectus, chairing no end of meetings, creating the business plan, sourcing the most competitive mortgage, collecting the pledged monies and negotiating the purchase of the building. Not content with just saving the local pub, Mark continues to push forward and now has secured the purchase of the neighbouring house for a community café and apartments for social housing for residents of Great Oakley and members of the community. Through this purchase a garden has been secured for the Maybush which provides further possibilities for the community hub. Mark ensures that the Maybush runs completely with volunteers seven days a week, and when there is a gap Mark often operates the shift himself to prevent a day’s closure. Mark always ensures the pub is well stocked, and that everyone is welcomed and encouraged to return. The time he gives up to this community venture is phenomenal. Mark is on hand from when the door is unlocked in the morning, and the takings cashed up and even often locking up at night. Mark volunteers between 50 and 60 hours a week of his time for the full benefit of the Maybush Community Hub and all the people who volunteer to ensure our valuable community hub is there for everyone. Ronald Thorne, Chittlehamholt Village Shop Five words to describe them: Visionary, team-builder, achiever, enthusiast Ron has been a resident of Chittlehamholt for twenty-eight and has always committed time to the community; from being Church Warden to starting a village newsletter and then continuing to edit it for 13 years! In 2008 the village Post Office was given notice of closure. The owners had also run a small store in conjunction with the Post Office but it was not viable on its own and so that would close as well. Ron called a public meeting in which the majority gave the go-ahead to explore possibilities of our own shop. Then followed a long and difficult path. A site, planning permission and funds were all needed. With much perseverance Ron led the negotiations and secured a fifty-year lease on our preferred site. Then the community had to raise the funds. Ron led the committee tirelessly through this, keeping calm and measured. The committee worked hard with coffee mornings, quiz evenings, very successful Ceilidhs, a sponsored walk, open gardens and cream teas saw us reach the £10,000 as our contribution to the project. Combined with a successful grant application to the Big Lottery Fund, we were on our way. Five years on from the original public meeting, the Chittlehamholt Community Shop was formally opened in 2013. It was an important day for the village. The shop has gone from strength to strength and proved that it is viable with a healthy bank balance. In March 2018, the last payment of our final loan will be paid and it can be truly said that the shop is standing on its own feet. The turnover of £40,000 yearly is very good considering the size of the village and the sparsely populated catchment area. The village now has a social hub and provides a meeting place for all, particularly the elderly and lonely. It has a coffee machine and table and chairs leading to many happy noisy sessions. It has proved a huge help to one of our volunteers who, living with MS, has been able to come to the shop and serve customers and meet all manner of people. The shop is much valued and the untiring work of one man, Ron Thorne, has made it all a reality. At the AGM this month Ron indicated that he wished to step down as Chairman of the Management Committee. A new post will be created for Ron, namely, President. A fitting tribute and thank you from an appreciative village. Mary Dennis, Hampstead Norreys Community Shop Words to describe Mary: community-minded, positive, unassuming, cheerful, selfless Mary is a very special person and has made a significant impact on Hampstead Norreys Community Shop over a total of ten years – from the germ of an idea to its fulfilment and beyond. Mary’s personal qualities, of positivity and cheerfulness, kindness and sense of fun, together with her dedication to the shop cause in all circumstances and over time, with her immense capacity for hard work, make her a worthy entrant for this award. In 1998 Mary, with a friend, spearheaded efforts to replace the recently-closed village shop. Sadly, despite huge efforts, no premises could be found and the idea lay dormant for nine years. But Mary didn’t forget her dream….. In 2007, following a Parish Plan survey, the idea surfaced again, when the results showed that the village wanted a shop for bread, milk and papers. Mary was the first to join the small group tasked with researching the possibility of a village shop. She worked diligently during a four-year exhilarating, frustrating and eventually successful journey to establish the Community Shop in Hampstead Norreys. The process involved some very long days of research and often tricky meetings, visits to other shops and much hard work, often requiring skill sets not used before – for instance, when managing to work well outside her comfort zone, Mary bravely took on the role of chairman of the organising committee when the chairman resigned suddenly. Her very positive attitude, resolute determination in the face of difficulties carried her and the team through. Mary’s dedication to the cause and her unwavering personal support were the inspiration and strength that kept our small team of pioneers going when we hit rocky patches on the way. Mary was not only one of the founders of the shop, but has continued to offer her gifts there very faithfully since. She has had a spell as joint manager, a member of the paid staff, through to her current role as a volunteer. She has created displays, arranged Christmas and birthday decorations and any number of other jobs that needed a willing volunteer! One of Mary’s other interests has been combined with her support for the shop in the form of her founder-membership of the Hampstead Norreys Dementia Awareness/Prevention Group. This group holds weekly drop-in ‘Meet and Eat’ lunches in the café for those who are lonely or at a loose end. Her social concern for others shows in this, as in all her work for the shop from its inception to today. Mary never says no to helping with the shop’s out of hours activities, such as the Summer and Christmas markets and other events, usually working quietly, observing everything and gently picking up the pieces that others may have missed or dropped. It has been wonderful to share good and less good shop times with Mary – she is a wonderfully steady rock and support for the business, its volunteers and customers alike. She is the salt of the earth and as a perceptive villager said, “Every village should have a Mary!” Place your vote now! http://poll.fm/5vpe2 Voting ends Monday 27 November at 5pm.