Harlow Civic Awards 2023: Local people and organisations celebrated for community contribution

Communities / Fri 26th May 2023 at 02:25pm

HARLOW Council has once again paid tribute to individuals and organisations that have gone above and beyond in contributing to the local community at last night’s (Thursday 25 May) Annual Council meeting, which began with the 2023 Civic Awards.

The awards were handed out by the Councillor Andrew Johnson, Chair of Harlow Council.

This year’s Civic Awards were again nominated by members of the public. There were three categories for this year’s awards: Citizens of the Year, Sport and Culture and Young Citizens of the Year.

All photos by Brian Thomas Photography

The awards were given to:

Citizens of the Year

Carly Burd

Carly created “A Meal on Me with Love” – an initiative where she grows fresh vegetables for those in need. She also collects food from shops that would otherwise go to waste and has put together around 1,500 food parcels for people in Harlow.

Since June 2022, Carly has turned her own garden into an allotment and has since taken a patch of land on Harberts Road and turned it into a full-scale allotment which has attracted a number of volunteers, something which has gained national recognition.

Charlie Fisk

After identifying that there was no special educational needs (SEN) football provision in the town, and with a son with SEN who is football mad, Charlie took it upon herself to start up a team. She started out with a small group of SEN children, training and playing football, however, it soon became clear how important this group was to the children and their parents.

Charlie then secured funding from the FA, along with coaches and a training ground and started a club – this was the beginning of Team Awesome. Charlie now works with Risdens Wood FC to incorporate Team Awesome into the club. There are now 30 children of all abilities who are part of Team Awesome with a waiting list for more.

Yvonne Butler

Yvonne has volunteered at the David Livingstone Special Needs Club in Potter Street for 45 years. At the club, she provides and runs a wide variety of life-enhancing activities for the members. Although her main source of enjoyment has always been within the art room, she has been the club secretary for more than 20 years.

Yvonne also works at St Elizabeth’s School in Much Hadham, a school for children with special needs, and has been there for 36 years as a learning support assistant. Yvonne’s adult life has been devoted to the enrichment and emotional support to the special needs community, and she continues to drive the special needs club forward for future generations.

Nigel Apps

Nigel, affectionately known across the town as ‘Skip’, is leader for the 2nd Great Parndon Scouts. He is there every week and organises multiple events and camps, as well as supporting the young people in his group in going on international trips/jamborees. The talent of the scout leaders that Nigel produces are incredible; he guides and supports them throughout their development.

In the district team, there are currently three members that have come up through Nigel’s scout group. Despite being retired, Nigel always works to keep his scouting programme relevant and up to date. He is youth-focused and wants to offer amazing skills and opportunities that people in Harlow can’t always get, for example, recently taking the group scuba diving.

Sport and Culture 

Harlow Amateur Boxing Club

Harlow ABC is run by volunteers who are 100% dedicated to what they do. It is a diverse, inclusive club that welcomes all ages (from 10 and up) and all abilities. The club is a vital part of the town and its young people. Boxing helps to teach discipline, keeps young people off the streets, provides them with a sense of belonging and can play an important part in their mental and physical wellbeing.

Through training at the club young people gain fitness, confidence, pride in themselves and a real sense of achievement as they develop their skills. The coaches all work so hard for the club and its members and are a credit to Harlow.

Erik Thorpe – Harlow Shotokan Karate Club

Sensei Erik, who now runs the Harlow Shotokan Karate Club which has been going for almost 50 years, gives up most of his free time to teach and inspire others. Erik has changed the lives of many students through the kindness of his heart, going out of his way to help students progress not just in their training but in other aspects of life.

Even when he is not teaching in the dojo, Erik is researching new ways to teach his students or organising gradings and competitions. The club’s students talk of how Erik has encouraged them to be dedicated to the art, constantly test themselves, and taught them much about self-discipline and improvement. He has earned the respect of all within the karate community as well as the club, which continues to teach adults and children from all backgrounds regardless of ability.

Young Citizens of the Year

Alexandra Cunningham Lang

Alexandra, 9, regularly cleans up her local area by litter picking at the weekends. She has been given credit at school for her environmental work. She has received plaudits from staff at her school when seen selflessly picking up bags of rubbish on Sundays.

She is a Science Ambassador at school, and while she excels at all subjects at school, in particular maths, she also wins merits for being an excellent role model, supporting other students and is always willing to help others. Alexandra deserves recognition for being  an example of an incredible young citizen.

Ceylan Deniz

Ceylan has overcome a lot in the past year. As someone living with complex needs, she felt isolated. However, since joining the SEN football team, Team Awesome, her confidence has skyrocketed and now, just six months later, helps with coaching the children and refereeing with a view to becoming a qualified referee. 

At the same time Ceylan has moved from home schooling to starting college. This is another experience that has helped her to overcome anxiety and Ceylan is now a very different person compared to when she started in September, as well as an inspiration to anyone in a similar position. The college has nominated Ceylan for a Jack Petchey Award which, given the adversity she has overcome, is as deserved as this Civic Award.

Commenting on the awards, Councillor Andrew Johnson, Chair of Harlow Council, said:

“This is always a fantastic occasion, and I was honoured to present these awards.

“We have such a strong community spirit here in Harlow, and these awards highlight some exceptional examples of people going over and above to give something back to our town.

“Thank you to all those residents who took the time to put in their nominations for this year’s awards.”

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2 Comments for Harlow Civic Awards 2023: Local people and organisations celebrated for community contribution:

Harlow Gooner
2023-05-26 16:09:40

Well done everyone. Good luck.

Louise Scantlebury
2023-05-28 10:23:56

Fantastic work everyone especially Alexandra

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