THERE were cheers and tears at a ceremony celebrating those who have gone above and beyond in Brockenhurst – as well as a surprise accolade.
The village’s first ever Citizen of the Year awards, organised by Brockenhurst Village Trust, saw Carolyn Waterman, Cynthia Wilson and Russell Horne honoured – as well as stalwart John Purkiss.
The latter had been asked to the meeting under the pretence of giving a speech on the subject of community, so was shocked to find himself handed a trophy recognising his contribution to the village.
He gave a humorous and tongue-in-cheek talk in which he took aim at some of the foibles of local organisations, before signing off with the message the village benefited most when people worked together to help others.
Mrs Waterman, Mrs Wilson and Cllr Horne were chosen out of 23 people nominated by a panel including Brockenhurst Village Trust chair Sue Hunter, Royal British Legion chairman captain Mike Matthews (RN) and Reuben Humphries, the church youth and young person support worker.
Mrs Waterman was honoured for her work to support Brockenhurst Methodist Church, membership of the local Riding for the Disabled Club, distributing the parish magazine, visits to elderly housebound people and collections for charities including the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal.
Mrs Wilson won her award for her work leading music in the parish, including a music and movement group for pre-school children for more than 30 years, as well as the Sing for Fun and The Friday Girls groups she organises. She is also a street pastor and a pastoral visitor to those in need through health, loneliness, or age to provide company and assistance.
Cllr Horne was recognised for his work masterminding the village’s Christmas lighting, as well working with a wide range of organisations such as BT Openreach, the national park authority, Forestry England and Hampshire County Council to bring fibre broadband to some 400 homes in and around New Forest Drive.
All three were visibly moved when they received their honours – cheered on by friends and family among a crowd of around 70 people at the village hall.
The prizes were sponsored by Meadens Skoda Garage, and its owner, Peter Sexton, was thanked by BVT trustee David Bennett, who said the event could not happen without such support.
Mrs Wilson, a leading light in musical activities locally, then took to the piano and encouraged the audience to sing Spread a Little Happiness to wrap up the ceremony.
While the awards proved a success, the BVT was disappointed a Young Person of the Year prize receive no nominations.
Mr Bennett said as a result the BVT was keen to do engage more with younger people and double its efforts to encourage youngsters to get involved next year.