Awards for ‘diamonds’ in our communities

John Taylor receives his award from Cannon Sharon Palmer
John Taylor receives his award from Cannon Sharon Palmer
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Three hard-working volunteers have been recognised with an award 
to mark the Queen’s 
diamond jubilee.

WRVS set up the Diamond Champions scheme to reward the work of people who give up their time to help people.

Sixty people were chosen from thousands of nominations in the East Midlands and special pins were given out to Neville Hydes, from Thurlby, John Taylor, from South Witham, and Teresa Wright, from Colsterworth, at a ceremony this month.

Mr Hydes set up back-to-work charity Toolbar, which runs free sessions at the Bourne Snooker Centre in Cherryholt Road every Monday morning.

Three years ago he realised that people seeking jobs needed help with more than just searching for vacancies.

He founded Toolbar to provide an informal place for jobseekers to meet, use computers, get help with CV writing and interview techniques and even get a haircut. Mr Hydes set up concerts and approached local fundraising groups for support, and managed to secure some funding from South Kesteven District Council.

The sessions have gone from a regular clientele of just three to an average of 25 every week. Many people have gone on to find employment after coming to Toolbar meetings and many put their success down to the work of Mr Hydes and his team.

He recently stepped down as chairman of Toolbar after a year in which the group became a charity and secured its future for another 12 months.

Mr Hydes said: “The whole team deserves the award.

“Someone has to be the engine driver but you need a fireman, a guard and a conductor as well. I am thrilled for Toolbar. It justifies the work we have done and the support we have had from people in Bourne. It makes me feel quite humble.”

Mr Hydes is one of 10 of the 60 East Midlands winners to be invited to a special ceremony with The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall at St James’ Palace later this month.

Mr Hydes also won two prizes at the 2012 Voluntary Sector Recognition Awards, held by the Lincolnshire Community and Volunteer Service.

John Taylor, 63, and his wife Denise run a number of fundraising activities for the charity Hearing Dogs For Deaf People.

The couple travel many miles across the Midlands to attend fetes, dog shows and other events to promote the charity. Among the initiatives they use is a charity gazebo selling goods and raffle tickets.

Even if they can’t make an event due to a previous commitment for the charity, the Taylors will ring round and try and persuade a colleague to go instead.

The charity is celebrating its 30th year and the Taylors have taken on Merlin’s Mission, touring with a hearing dog called Merlin to try and raise £30,000 on top of their normal work.

Mr Taylor said: “I felt very proud to have been given the pin.”

And Teresa Wright has been recognised for her work with the British Red Cross’s First Call service in Lincolnshire and Home Start in Grantham.

First Call provides support to vulnerable adults to let them maintain the independence of living at home.

Home-Start helps with the safeguarding and protection of young children with problematic families. Mrs Wright helps parents who may feel isolated at home and may be struggling with the demands of a young and expanding family

She also reassures parents that their childcare problems are not unusual or unique.

The Red Cross recognised her skills last year when she was presented with a commendation certificate.

WRVS head of region for the Midlands, Sam Ward, said: “It is with great pleasure that we announce the 60 Diamond Champions from the Midlands.

“They are truly deserving of the honour and it is justified recognition of the selfless work they do in their communities to help others.

“It was incredibly hard to choose 60 Diamond Champions from all the nominations we received; all the nominees are fantastic examples of the incredible volunteering work being done by older people across the Midlands.”