Pride of Devon 2018: The Winners

The nominations are over and the judges have spoken; it’s time to meet some of the exceptional Devonians that make us proud to be part of the communities of Devon.

Neighbour of the Year
Sponsored by One Magazine
Winner: Joan Matthews

When nominator Janice Triandafillidis’s grandmother, aged 92, and Uncle Harry, 72, moved into Hill Drive in Exmouth 25 years ago, they had the good fortune to have Joan and Alan Matthews as neighbours. Over the years, the neighbours became friends, and a quarter of a century on, it’s been a special relationship. Since the passing of Janice’s grandmother, Harry found life even hard after his mother died. Joan, an ex-nurse, not only arranged his medical appointments, but forbade him to drive to them – instead taking on the role of driver and carer as well as neighbour. That’s not all. She’s a baker and cook, and takes on the laundry too. Janice says: “Without the love and attention of Joan and Alan, Harry would probably not have enjoyed such a long life as he has. Joan’s not only a caring neighbour, she’s a volunteer for Hospiscare and A la Ronde at Exmouth too. If there were more people like Joan, the world would be a better place.”
 

Carer of the Year
Sponsored by Burton Home Care
Winner: Rosemarie Bowden

Rosemarie Bowden lives in Rewe with her family; husband Paul, sons Craig and Christopher and her mother Alberta. With Alberta just becoming a nonagenarian and now needing more help, Rosie is a carer to a parent, and also a son. That’s because Christopher has celebral palsy, with all four of his limbs affected, meaning he’s unable to walk, dress or feed himself.
Rosie embraces every day with both Alberta and Christopher (and Paul and Craig too, of course). But Rosie’s caring extends beyond her own family. She’s a volunteer at Ceda – the Community Equality Disability Action organisation in Exeter – and she also keeps a lookout for the young children of Layla Ford, who nominated her. These little ones know Rosie as nanny, and they love her too!
 

Lifetime Achievement Award
Sponsored by Bicton College
Winner: Kelly Hayman-Bruce

Many charities wouldn’t survive or thrive were it not for an army of volunteers who give up time to promote causes of raise funds. Kelly Hayman- Bruce is one such volunteer – and she’s been making a difference for a lifetime; especially for one cause that’s impacted her family, friends and neighbours.
It started when cancer struck five people living on the same street as Kelly. Later, her mother sadly died of the disease, aged just 55. So for more than 30 years, Kelly has been a stalwart of charitable fundraising. For nearly 20 of those years, she’s led a group of Macmillan Cancer Support volunteers in Devon. If there’s a way of raising money, Kelly knows it.

For Macmillan alone, Kelly has handed over a third of a million pounds. It’s made a difference to people affected by one of the most challenging health issues that strikes without warning, at any time. But volunteering isn’t just about giving up time. There is a social side too; and Kelly’s work is much appreciated by those in her team around Bovey Tracey, Newton Abbot and Exeter. And this summer, she’s heading to the palace, as a guest of the royal family in thanks for her lifetime contribution.
 

Community Contribution
Sponsored by Tamar Security
Winner: Jude Cretney

Newcourt Community Centre has a lot to thank Jude Cretney for. When Jude moved back to the area to care for her elderly parents, she immediately threw herself into volunteering. She established and still runs Community Arts Newcourt, in what is still a new and developing part of Exeter. Thanks to the initiative, children have subsidized dance classes: street dance being the biggest hit. Other Newcourt residents enjoy monthly drop-in sessions.

But you don’t have to go to the community centre to see the artwork; Jude makes sure it gets out to the people too, such as displays at the new Newcourt railway station. Jude has become a trustee of the community centre, as well as an active volunteer. The centre is closely associated with Trinity School, where Jude can be seen dishing up meals at the breakfast club. She also plays an active role at the Newcourt baby and toddler group and, in her spare time, organises quizzes, litter picks and charity coffee mornings. She’s a true part of the growing Newcourt community.
 

Young Apprentice of the Year
Sponsored by PGL Training
Winner: Ella Fielding

Here’s an apprentice who’s been adopted by her college to become an ambassador for apprenticeships. Ella Fielding, who’s 21, is studying – and working – towards a Level 4 in digital marketing. Exeter College created the role specially for Ella, giving her the responsibility of liaising with nearly a thousand employers all over Devon and convincing them of the advantages of apprenticeships. That’s become a bit harder in the past year, now that the government has introduced a levy for larger organisations.

Not only has Ella coordinated one of the largest conferences in the south west bringing together potential apprentices and employers, she’s a mentor to some apprentices and has spoken in seminars at the National Apprenticeship Service. Senior management at the college say she’s an inspirational young person who has made the ambassador’s role her own.
 

Child of Achievement
Sponsored by BHP Fuel Fest
Winner: Charlotte Summer Thompson

Charlotte Thompson suffers from autism and has speech and language development difficulties which has made communicating tough. When you are unable to think of the words to say it’s hard to make friends, and so it proved for the former St James schoolgirl. Now 16, Charlotte still faces these challenges on a daily basis which causes extreme anxiety, but she’s determined to enjoy the evening as a Pride of Devon award winner. Activities which are routine for so many children have been major achievements for Charlotte. She can become overwhelmed by information or new situations, even excitement can become upsetting. In the last 12 months she has taken her GCSEs and overcome many hurdles with support from her family and the team at South West Autism. She is now able to travel by herself by bus to Exeter College, where she is working on a course called Paths 2 Independence. Here she can brush up her maths and English, as well as learning practical skills such as cooking or going shopping. Being with other young people with similar challenges in life has given Charlotte the confidence to make friends. She’s a worthy child of achievement.

 

Volunteer of the Year
Sponsored by Devon County Show
Winner: Emma Baldwin

When 18-year-old Emma was asked to run Exmouth Gateway’s bar for two weeks in 1993, it was a volunteering stint where one thing led to another. Twenty-five years later, Emma’s still volunteering with Gateway, a social club for adults with learning difficulties which now has more than a hundred members, mainly from
East Devon.

Like all the best social clubs, its activities are many and varied: quiz nights, discos, movie nights and beetle drives – but also projects that are distinct and special, such as the recently formed disability football team, Exmouth Tigers. Emma is now club leader and chairman – and it’s still all voluntary; a seven-day-a-week hobby, which Emma fits in alongside her full-time job at Flybe. Whilst Gateway is a social club, not everything is particularly social; there are forms to fill, grants to apply for, respite holidays to arrange, or even just talking to members who want to call. Gateway is an invaluable club for many people in East Devon. It’s in no small way thanks to Emma Baldwin and a team of committed volunteers.

 

Teacher of the Year
Sponsored by The Honest Truth
Winner: Clare O’Riley

The children at Barley Lane School, Exeter are talented and unique, but for many reasons they’re unable to enjoy life at mainstream schools. Teacher Clare O’Riley is not only a brilliant and understanding adult in their lives, but is a shoulder to cry on when needed. Clare’s there for parents too, who can sometimes need a little support and kindness from the person who spends much of the working day with their son. Clare is passionate about being a teacher, and specifically about the people – children and colleagues at Barley Lane School. Modestly, she doesn’t appreciate how good she is for her pupils. The work doesn’t stop when she gets home either. She’s a fantastic mother and stepmum to Charlotte, Siobhan, Amy and Caragh.
 

Parent or Guardian of the Year
Sponsored by Radio Exe
Winner: Makala Cousins

Newton Abbot mum Makala Cousins had much to do for both her daughters, beyond the normal routine and joy of caring for the children. Both girls, now grown-up, suffer from epilepsy and, when that meant a hospital stay, Makala was by their beds every night. Now the tables have been turned somewhat. Recently Makala
was diagnosed with a tumour. It’s been a tough time, involving a period in intensive care, but she has remained strong and positive, with a smile not just
for the children, but for her husband too, who is also on the road to recovery from an operation. Now there’s a toddler in the family, and that’s brightened up life for everyone during what’s been a difficult period.

Making the nomination, Daughter, Kristina Cousins says Makala deserves recognition, not just for being a special mother, but for her wider friends and family too for being a strong role model; a caring, loving and lovely lady who can be proud recipient of the Pride of Devon Parent of the Year award.
 

Environmental Award
Sponsored by Coastal Recycling
Winner: Professor Richard Brazier

Exeter University’s Professor Richard Brazier has spent years researching the effects of major environmental projects in Devon. He specialises in landscape restoration science; developing an understanding of how the way we manage the land impacts the health and condition of the soil. Among his many projects, he’s led the monitoring for South West Water’s Upstream Thinking programme (collecting evidence on how moorland rewetting, on-farm management and interventions can improve water quality) and chaired the Science and Evidence Forum for the Mid-Devon and River Otter Beaver Trials (to understand the impact of beaver reintroduction). His work has shown that Devon is leading the UK in terms of progressive approaches to managing land and water, setting wonderful examples as to how agriculture can work hand-in-hand with nature-based approaches to benefit society.

 

Community Sport Award
Sponsored by Mi-Space
Winner: Cheryl McGauley

Exeter may have a glittering rugby club at the top of its game, but the sports’ grass roots thrive in the city too. Sometimes it’s not that easy, so it falls to people such as Cheryl McGauley to pull things together. Cheryl became involved in Exeter Youth Rugby at Clyst St Mary, when her twins Toby and Rhys were seven and wanted to take up the sport. Now 260 children, mostly boys (but they would like more girls), learn their rugby skills at the club, where Cheryl is now chairman.

It’s been challenging recently. Facilities are a bit the worse for wear. A new clubhouse is desperately needed, but planning permission was refused last year and they’re now reassessing those plans – but hope to have a new building in place in time for the 2019 world cup. With the support of the committee and the parents, Cheryl is driving those plans, together with reinforcing the club’s values; smart children from opposing teams enjoying food together after a game, for example. So as well as fundraising, she’s running the food van each week; and is described as a whirlwind of enthusiasm. She’s the ultimate rugby mum to all the players.
 

Military Contribution Award
Sponsored by Solve-iT
Winner: Scott Lawson

Combe Martin boy Scott Lawson served in the Royal Marines for 12 years, including two tours of Afghanistan, where he was a specialist air defence and reconnaissance operator. He didn’t mean to end his military career at that time, but an improvised explosive device brought the curtain down prematurely when he was caught in its blast. The damage to Scott’s hearing proved so severe, it curtailed the service about which he was so passionate. His path since then has not been so easy, with post-traumatic stress featuring heavily. And a sudden disability such as hearing loss is rarely cured easily.

Despite the hurdles and the rapid change of circumstance, Scott has reinvented himself, pursuing a new career at Bicton College where he is team leader for the military and emergency services academy. He develops the employability skills and confidence of students so they can serve in their chosen discipline. He’s a volunteer royal marine mentor at the Commando Training Centre where he inspires and motivates recruits, as well as being a scout leader for the Exeter District at Cranbrook.
 

Grandparent of the Year
Sponsored by Cavanna Homes
Winner: Jill Dixon

It’s a busy time for grandparent Jill Dixon; a new baby has arrived, from which she is only separated by a river. Living in Lympstone, with grandchildren in Starcross, she’s still on hand to help out, including with the newborn. While her own two children were growing up, Jill combined childcare with her work with children in schools in the area, qualifying as a teacher later, and is also a committed volunteer for her local tennis club and for Hospiscare.

Grandparents have to judge their contribution to family life carefully, and Jill pitches it just right, allowing her children to get on with it their own way. Daughter Katie says Jill “found herself” when the grandchildren came along. But she hasn’t given up her other interests, and enjoys looking after other people.
 

Special Recognition Award
Sponsored by Exeter City Council
Winner: Sarah Jones

In 2016, aged just 32 and the mother of two young boys, Sarah Jones suffered a debilitating double stroke while out cycling that confined her initially to bed and subsequently to a wheelchair. It’s been a dramatic change from the days when she was able to compete in the Great West Run to the physical difficulties she
now experiences, but Sarah is a fighter – and not just for herself and her family. She’s a carer too, professionally, as a support worker for Age Concern Exmouth, Surecare Broadclyst and the Estuary League of Friends at Topsham. For example, one of her clients, a Devon centurion who, given his advanced age, needs assistance with some basic things, such as tying his shoelaces. Given Sarah now has restricted movement in her arm, that was a considerable challenge. She does it all with panache.

Sarah’s been married to Warren for more than 20 years, and her family has been at the core of her recovery. Her love for Warren and their sons Owen and Lewis has provided the energy she’s needed to get back to a place where she can move, care and provide – despite the physical obstacles she faces. She has positivity and spirit. She’s modest and inspirational.

Author: Jake

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