A number of Bearwood volunteers featured heavily in the recent Smethwick Community Awards celebrations, including our very own Julie McKirdy BEM who scooped the major award, The Outstanding Citizen Award, named after Bob Cohen, a Smethwick volunteer who died last year.
Poignantly, Julie is pictured here with the other nominees, picking up her award from Sandwell Council leader Darren Cooper, one of his last council duties before his tragic death just a week later.
Another Bearwood candidate nominated was Ava Simmons, who was commended in the Young Volunteer section (won, incidentally, by Matthew English from Coffee Junction) for her work helping out at Smethwick in a Stew. Ava, is pictured here at the front with the rest of Smethwick in a Stew team, winners of the Community Project of the year. The project, working out of Smethwick library was again recognised for their work in providing a hot meal and warm clothing to those in need in Smethwick, and Ava regularly donated her pocket money towards providing food for 'the Stew'. Other finalists in this section were the volunteers of West Smethwick Park who are doing a lot of work towards regenerating their park.
Bearwood also featured in the Outstanding Volunteer section, with Dan Letchford recognised for his work for the blind community at Thimblemill Library.
The Community Awards, sponsored by Sandwell Council, are designed to highlight and give some recognition to the thousands of hours of fantastic work carried out day in, day out by people who volunteer their services to aid and develop the local community. Although Julie McKirdy, for instance, is well known as a librarian, everyone knows that very little community activity in Bearwood takes place without Julie being involved in some way or other.
In a fantastic awards night there were also awards for Good Neighbour and Partnership Working. Councillor Richard Marshall, pictured here presenting a special award to Smethwick volunteer, Harley Jean Simpson, said, “It was a special evening, and with over 100 nominations for numerous community projects and individuals, it was wonderful to see so many people gathered together to recognise the work they do for Smethwick people.”