PRIDE OF SWINDON: Amazing local heroes receive much-deserved awards and celebration

·5-min read
The Pride of Swindon individual winners with their awards at the 2022 ceremony - Dave Logan, Buster Brasier-Dinning, Sam Pierce, Anne Williams, Helen Jones, Neda Krishnan, Nuala Szeliga, Norman Edwards, Paul Wainwright, Neil Robinson, Walid Meah
The Pride of Swindon individual winners with their awards at the 2022 ceremony - Dave Logan, Buster Brasier-Dinning, Sam Pierce, Anne Williams, Helen Jones, Neda Krishnan, Nuala Szeliga, Norman Edwards, Paul Wainwright, Neil Robinson, Walid Meah

INCREDIBLE achievements have been recognised at the first in-person Pride of Swindon awards ceremony for three years.

Dave Logan received the first award of the evening for his years as chairman of Parkinson’s UK’s Swindon branch, campaigning tirelessly to raise awareness of the condition and raising huge amounts of money to support people and help find a cure.

He fundraised £1,000 after a 34km swim, set up exercise classes while battling his own health issues, and received a national award from the charity in 2019.

Sam Pierce from Toothill took on 21 varied and difficult challenges after turning 30. He received an award and revealed that his 21st challenge had just been completed, he’d raised £6,500 and will be one of the Queen’s baton runners in the Commonwealth Games.

Three days after retiring as a district nurse, Anne Williams was asked to set up a vaccination centre at Bath Racecourse.

She helped the clinical staff, covering their shifts while they were ill and doubling her workload while overseeing 8,000 people a day who got protected against Covid.

The grandmother qualified as a nurse in her 50s and her family say they are so proud of her and she deserves to be celebrated.

Anne told the Adver: “I’m overwhelmed, I feel really honoured to be associated with these wonderful people, it’s amazing.

“It was a privilege to be part of the vaccination effort, we recruited amazing people and helped 11-year-olds to 100-year-olds, it was challenging but rewarding.”

Steve Carr suffered a breakdown in 2015 then completed a challenge to travel from one end of Britain to the other on foot, raising awareness of mental health while being homeless and in recovery himself.

He hoped to reduce the stigma around mental illness and show how easy it can be to lose everything if help is not sought, because asking for help is about never giving up.

After qualifying as a suicide and mental health first-aider, he gave talks in workplaces and delivered more than 100 training courses during the pandemic.

Others described him as being supportive, with nothing ever too much trouble, and always being open and helping people feel comfortable opening up about their own experiences.

Matt Jones ran three bicycle schemes during the pandemic, servicing and repairing almost 250 donated two-wheelers before giving them to frontline workers and families who could not afford them as Christmas presents.

While doing this, the stay-at-home dad continued managing his business and will be bringing back the Christmas scheme this year, too.

A key member of the council’s Warm Welcome team for refugees, Neda Krishnan gave up much of her time to support Afghans who fled the Taliban and helped them with translation and medical appointments.

She set up a woman’s support group which, with help from other community groups, allows women to try sewing, cooking and English lessons.

Neda became a trustee for the Harbour Project in March 2021 and ensured people and families were aware of the changing guidelines during the pandemic.

Her empathy, compassion and kindness is said to be an inspiration to many - and now she’s organising a fundraising concert.

Retired teacher Nuala Szeliga runs the Treehouse group at Westlea Primary School, which saw a 55 per cent increase in requests for help during Covid.

It provides an empathetic and listening ear to help children cope with grief, express their feelings and remember their lost loved ones.

Norman Edwards founded Care Home Volunteers charity in 2014 so people would offer to spend time with and befriend lonely care home residents in Wiltshire.

He worked many unpaid hours and helped raised £350,000 to recruit and train 43 volunteers, and buy iPads so isolated people could communicate with loved ones during Covid.

Mr Edwards said: “I’m very proud of the award and proud of the team of people who do all the hard work. Pre-Covid, we had 2,500 one-to-one visits.”

Project coordinator Jenny Burchall called Norman “driven and inspirational”. She added: “There’s a lot of loneliness in care homes and residents can feel hidden away, so this awards recognition is important.”

Paul Wainwright set up Robins FC in 1991 and coached hundreds of young people while managing teams in all weathers. He’s been a youth worker for more than 20 years and raised thousands of pounds with Rotary work.

Save Oasis Swindon founder Neil Robinson set up the campaign in 2020, received support from famous faces Rebecca Adlington and Billie Piper, and successfully got the leisure centre’s iconic dome listed.

He said: “I was shocked to get an award because so many people were nominated.

“This has been a hard campaign and a real fight to keep the building secure after all the vandalism and break-ins, but it’s nice to get recognition.

“I used the leisure centre right up until it closed so I was passionate about saving it and no-one else seemed to be doing anything, so I stepped up.

“People said the listing would stop the Oasis reopening but it’s looking likely that they’ll be proved wrong.”

Walid Meah took charge of his father’s Old Town restaurant, provided food to GWH and shielding vulnerable people, visited a care home for people with learning disabilities, organised activities for young people, and managed a football club for boys over the last 12 years. He has been a big part of the community and worked hard to help others.

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