Having last week joined the 26 finalists in the 2015 NK Community Champion Awards, I wanted to reflect on the immeasurable depth of community spirit, care and compassion that marks out our residents, businesses and general way of being in North Kesteven.
For many years the district council has maintained a vision of ‘100 Flourishing Communities’, sharing this with its partners as we seek to align everything we do to achieving this aim; through supportive policies, procedures and plans.
We pursue this vision, sound in the knowledge that there are hundreds, if not thousands of people all working quietly, tirelessly and selflessly at grassroots, in both paid and voluntary capacities, to inspire, motivate, enable, encourage and support others to flourish – whether as individuals, groups or businesses.
With such an ethos underlying life in North Kesteven, it can be no coincidence that we have seen increasing rankings in our status for quality of life, peacefulness and safety - volunteering and community-focussed endeavours all making a significant contribution towards these successes.
Care, compassion and selfless service are golden threads running through North Kesteven, undoubtedly strengthening and holding communities together.
Last week we saw this exemplified in the category winners.
Despite the restraints of his own physical abilities 11-year-old Thomas Talbot from Metheringham is pioneering new sports and raising thousands for other children with cerebral palsy.
In his 70s, Ray Allan is leading and inspiring further voluntary effort to enable and encourage others to broaden the district’s cultural richness at the Terry O’Toole Theatre.
Beside an educational commitment, Elite Fish & Chips has made charitable support core to its business and the Sleaford Renewable Energy Plant has made significant pledges to promote community wellbeing.
For more than 36 years Brian Rowland has given his all to encouraging and enabling success for scores of teams at Sleaford Town FC.
Pedalling the benefits of cycling and sustainable travel options, Andy Bennett has made immense strides in changing perception and behaviour among commuters and businesses within the LN6 area.
A team of volunteers has cleaned up in Bracebridge Heath, transforming the village’s physical appearance and developing a strong sense of pride.
Over three years Wendy and Richard Dann have helped heal hearts, combat loneliness and forge friendships in Ruskington through the weekly friendship group they pioneered.
And a much-deserved standing ovation greeted the legacy of Heckington’s Ken Smith whose personal contribution to the Local First Responders group was tireless.
Such spirit was apparent in the endeavours of all 26 finalists – a record number which reflects positively on the quality and diversity of voluntary undertakings district-wide – who collectively represented the unsung good works of 300-plus individuals, including 70 volunteers at Sleaford CAB and the 20 ladies achieving record charitable sums at RAF Cranwell’s Thrift Shop.
These and all of those nominated are the people making a difference to all of our lives, working unstintingly and tirelessly on behalf of others and creating the vibrant and flourishing places we enjoy so much. Without them, all of our lives would be poorer and North Kesteven would not be the wonderful place it is.
At the very root of our Champions Awards are the nominators; grateful neighbours, beneficiaries and complete strangers whose lives have been touched by such kindness. Without their thoughtful consideration we would not be able to celebrate such a breadth and depth of community spirit and their role is much appreciated too.
These much-deserved nominations remind me of author Victor Hugo’s observation that ‘The great acts of love are done by those who habitually perform small acts of kindness’. It is those small acts of kindness which make the strong, vibrant communities so distinct to North Kesteven and I thank everyone for their contributions in that regard.