Midhurst celebrates dedication of unsung heroes

IT was an historic occasion when Midhurst town councillors hosted their annual awards ceremony at the old library in Knockhundred Row.

It was the first time they had invited members of the public to an event in their new home and the building they hope will also become a community facility.

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Master of ceremonies for the evening was chairman John Etherington who welcomed some 50 guests.

“This is the night we recognise and celebrate the hard work and dedication of the many Midhurst residents who help to make our town such a special place,” he said.

Fire station manager Nigel Gamblen received a community award for his service to the town.

He celebrated 40 years in the fire service at a surprise party organised by family and friends earlier this month.

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Presenting him with his certificate Mr Etherington said: “He has been looking after us for four decades, so on behalf of the residents of Midhurst I would like to thank you.”

“It has also been a family affair with your father also serving and your son Matthew has also followed in your footsteps and the three generations have together notched up a grand total of 85 years serve.

Also receiving an award was Graham Pooley. A trustee of the old Grange Community Association he worked tirelessly selling everything left inside the old building before it was bulldozed.

His magnificent efforts and the residue of profits from the old centre resulted in the setting up of a six figure community grant pot.

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Mr Etherington said: “With the use of Ebay and various other means he sold as much as he could of the assets of the old Grange which required him to spend long and lonely hours in the bare and cold ‘old Grange’.

“He volunteered and stood up to deal with the matter. Without complaint or reward he saw it through to the end and did a fantastic job.”

In addition he added: “Graham has contributed enormously over the last few years to the Grange Community Association with his time, effort, enthusiasm and knowledge.” Midhurst photographer Michael Chevis has also been recognised.

A staunch and long time supporter of trade in the town he organised a Medieval Midhurst weekend in May to raise awareness of the newly refurbished Market Square and attract visitors.

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Presenting the award vice chairman of the town council and a member of the Town Team John Quilter said it had been hugely successful with medieval games, music, combat, archery, falconry story telling and demonstrations of medieval crafts.

Also honoured was Trevor Hunt who stepped up to help Midhurst combat what Mr Etherington described as a ‘mini crime wave’ more than a decade ago.

Around 15 years ago the town council set up the Crime Reduction Forum with representatives from groups in the town including the police. It tackled the problem and later set up the youth snack waggon.

Mr Etherington said: “We needed a treasurer and Trevor volunteered and he is still in post.” The Bill Godrey Shield, awarded to those nominated by the Scouts and Guides for achievement, went to Corinne Curry who has taken on the role of assistant guide leader with lst Midhurst Guides. It is shared this year by Luke Weston who has been helping with the Scout group for two years.

During the evening Trevor Leggo, director of the Sussex and Surrey Association of Local Councils spoke on the elections next year.

David Tunks, who helps the town council judge the Midhurst in Bloom competition congratulated councillors on the success of the newly equipped recreation ground in Carron Lane.

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