THEY are the people who make the town tick and when Midhurst town councillors held their traditional annual awards evening, it was a chance to say thank-you.
From the traders who decorated their shop windows and the gardeners who brightened the town through the Midhurst in Bloom competition to unsung individuals, it was their night in the spotlight.
This year there was recognition for a couple who founded the town’s museum as well as an award for the woman who brought the Market Square refurbishment project to life and another for a dad who gives up much of his spare time to help the Scouts.
Chairman of Midhurst Town Council John Etherington welcomed guests to the annual evening at Capron House.
The first award went to Shaun Hyde who received the Bill Godrey Shield presented to someone who has given outstanding service to the Scout movement in the town.
Mr Hyde’s wife Debbie and their two children Ryan and Nathan were there to see him collect the shield from Mr Etherington.
He has been a helper with the evening Beavers group for the past nine years.
“He organises games and joins in with all the activities and even helps with Beaver sleep-overs,” said Mr Etherington.
Peter Nightingale and his wife Gill jointly received a town council award for founding the town’s museum in Knockhundred Row.
“Two years ago I was asked to cut the ribbon to open the museum on the night of our Christmas street party,” Mr Etherington told guests, “and at the time I said from tiny acorns, oak trees grow.
“It is now in its third year and already 5,000 visitors have been through the door.”
Accepting the award, Mr Nightingale said it was probably the smallest museum in the country, fitting just 12 people inside at one time.
“But we change the display every month and we are now open four-and-a-half days a week. It is an honour to receive this award and we are very grateful for all the support we receive.”
Town councillor Gordon McAra – also the town’s county councillor – presented an award to Sylvie Hardcastle, West Sussex County Council’s project manager during the restoration of the market square.
He said the project had been a decade in the planning and much work had been carried out by Midhurst Town Council and its then chairman Colin Hughes, working with the square owners, the Town Trust.
Funded by a £200,000 grant from the Monument Trust, secured by Mr Hughes, and another £240,000 from the county council, it had now come to fruition.
“But it’s one thing to get the money and another to translate it into reality and that is where we have to thank Sylvie, who used all her skills and overcame many hurdles with equanimity, calmness and dignity and this is why we have this fabulous result.”