Congleton’s “coronavirus heroes” have been honoured for their outstanding contributions during the covid-19 pandemic.
The volunteers, who “went the extra mile” to help others through the coronavirus pandemic, were honoured for their “selfless dedication” at Congleton Town Council’s civic awards ceremony.
Presented by the town mayor, Coun Denis Murphy, deputy town mayor, Coun Margaret Gartside and former town mayor Coun Sally Ann Holland, the awards were handed out to residents who had undertaken something extraordinary under the categories of business, community, individual and youth.
Coun Murphy said: “We received more than 70 nominations from people who recommended those who had gone above and beyond their usual job or volunteering role over these past 18 months to support vulnerable townsfolk and keep critical services going.
“Everyone has made a difference through what was and, in some cases, continues to be a challenging time. Congleton is fortunate to have so many exceptional people living in the town.”
Coun Murphy added: “There were so many fantastic stories received. Every story was different, every volunteer so appreciated by the person that nominated them.
“The judging panel found it impossible to pick winners and so it was agreed that all those nominated would be invited to a thank you party at Congleton Cricket Club to celebrate their amazing achievements.”
Among those honoured was local resident Rita Wild. She has worked at Readesmoor Medical Centre for more than 15 years and gave up her spare time to help at the vaccination clinics at the town hall.
She said: “I feel totally shocked to receive the award. I cried at work when I found out I had been nominated! I was only doing what I love best, helping other people.” She was described as “an asset to the community” by one of her many nominees.
Another individual award was scooped by Alison Cann, who used her sewing skills while she was furloughed to help others.
She said: “I’m delighted to receive this civic award; I would like to dedicate it to all the people who joined my Sewing Bees group to help stitch more than 300 laundry bags for the NHS. We made scrubs, head bands and face masks that also raised money for Congleton Food Hub. This is for you all.”
In the business category, Bare Health was recognised for providing essential services throughout the restrictions.
Business owner Melanie Ratcliffe said: “We are absolutely thrilled, honoured and ever so slightly overwhelmed to receive a civic award. We are hugely grateful to those of you who took the time to nominate the team. It was heart-warming to be in the same room with so many amazing people from our local community who selflessly helped those in need during the covid pandemic.”
Others praised for their civic contribution included Congleton Food Hub, which served the community from March 2020 through to April 2021 delivering around 70 food parcels a week to those who were most in need, while also delivering welfare and thank you packs to front line services and workers.
At Christmas, the “hubbers,” as they were affectionately known, led by Shaun Radcliffe, put together around 750 food parcels and goodie packs to deliver some Christmas cheer to those most in need.
Similar praise was lavished on the young people of the town.
Best friends Francesca Carter and Lydia Higgins were commended for their commitment to keeping their local area litter-free and a clean and safe place to play for themselves and others.
Callum Bloor organised many activities to raise funds to purchase material to make much-needed supplies for the NHS staff at Congleton and Macclesfield hospitals.
Cheshire East Council was also keen to thank volunteers who helped to deliver the People Helping People programme in Congleton and so, via its volunteer co-ordination point, sponsored the party for Congleton.
Sharon Joynson, Cheshire East community development officer, said: “Our volunteers here this evening offered invaluable support to the Congleton community. They supported residents who found themselves isolated without family, friends, or a support network in many different ways.
“It’s lovely to hear so many stories of volunteers continuing to help and the special friendships that have evolved through this.”
Congleton Town Council thanked local businesses who supported the party. This included Congleton Cricket Club and Neil Sherratt Catering, Something Glitzy for the balloons and The Added Extra for the LED “Thank You” sign.
(Photos: Congleton Town Council).