Brentwood Rewards Those Who Serve

In the week in which we celebrate Easter, it is right that we reflect on those who have given their lives to the service of others. Earlier this month I had the pleasure of attending the annual Brentwood Civic Dinner at the Mount Avenue Banqueting Suite in Hutton. Our host this year was the Worshipful the Mayor of Brentwood (the wonderful) Cllr Sheila Murphy, whose term as our local mayor is just coming to an end. Sheila gave us a splendid evening with some excellent speeches from herself, Cllr Keith Parker, the deputy mayor, and the special guest, Major Paul Herlihy of the Warley Army Reserves.

The highlight of the evening, as ever, were the Brentwood Civic Awards which recognise people whose achievements help to make the borough a better place to live, work and visit. The awards celebrate the countless hours of commitment demonstrated by the many local people who dedicate themselves to helping others.

The first was to Sam Hatcher-Staines who was made Young Volunteer of the Year. Sam has made a huge contribution to the Hermit Youth Centre on Shenfield Road running a range of sessions for young people in the area. Lifetime achievement awards were given to Mike Hawkins and Mike Conyers. Mike Hawkins is a longtime stalwart of the Rotary, the Brentwood Business Partnership and the Brentwood Theatre and has served as a Magistrate on the Essex Bench. Mike Conyers, also a Rotarian, was recognised for his extraordinary community service and his prodigious fundraising for good causes - all achieved despite his having been blind for most of his life following an accident with a cricket ball during childhood. Finally, Council Team of the Year were the Brentwood Corporate Enforcement Team headed by Tracey Lilley who do such good work in reducing anti-social behaviour, rough sleeping, street drinking, flytipping and littering in the locality.

I never cease to be amazed by the number of local people who give up so much of their lives to help others and the sheer number of local groups set up to improve the life of the local area. So many people, so much sponsorship for good causes, so much public contribution. Never let it be said that this town does not do its bit.