The Essential Guide’s Unsung Heroes 2017 search is over – we have found inspiring, local champions who have made a difference to people’s lives in their community.
Good Neighbour Award:
Winner: John Unsworth
It will come as no surprise to the residents of Culcheth that the Essential Guide Unsung Hero Good Neighbour Award for 2017 is John Unsworth, who was featured in a recent issue of the Essential Guide, for his colourful contribution to a quiet corner of Culcheth.
John has been a keen gardener for many years, and three years ago planted flowers on the corner of Bent Lane, as a treat for an elderly neighbour to improve her view when she opened the curtains each morning. Since then John’s stunning display has gained momentum and a glorious spectacle of blooms in all sizes and colours spreads halfway down the lane each summer.
He grows the plants himself from seed, some of which in turn seed themselves after flowering to contribute to the beautiful display of garden and meadow flowers.
Since featuring in the July issue of the Essential Guide, many people have nominated John for this award, commenting that he’s brightened up their neighbourhood, and noting how much time and care he takes to make the corner of Bent Lane such a pretty part of the neighbourhood.
“I’m so surprised, but delighted to have won this award,” commented John. “I didn’t expect anything like this.”
John certainly has made a significant difference to his local neighbourhood. Maybe you know someone who has been a good neighbour? Remember to vote for them in next year’s Essential Guide Unsung Hero Awards!
Another noteworthy nomination is Barry & Margaret for their time and continuing hard work keeping their local community looking beautiful.
Volunteer of the Year Award:
Winner: Maureen Chatburn
Maureen works tirelessly throughout the year in Woolston park, and keeps the other volunteer Friends on their toes! She excels when organising the annual Woolston Show, ensuring that the Show every year is a success. She always welcomes new volunteers with a cuppa and a big smile!”
“This is for all the volunteers,” says Maureen, proudly holding up her trophy. “It’s not just me, it’s a team effort.” Maureen is referring to the Friends of Woolston Park, of which she was a founder member. She was nominated as the Essential Guide Unsung Hero, in the Volunteer category, and is a worthy winner.
Friends of Woolston Park is a small but dedicated group of volunteers, who work in the park throughout the year. Maureen facilitates the meetings, organises regular volunteer days and works hard all year round in the park.
Although the group is supported by Woolston Parish Council, it operates with a very small budget, and relies on donations and grants. The highlight of the year is the Woolston Show, which has taken place on the first weekend of September each year. “We always need more volunteers,” says Maureen, who books the arena acts and organises the stalls.
On her ‘days off ’ from Woolston park, Maureen collates articles for the Church of Ascension newsletter, is an active member of her local WI and enjoys being a member of a local art group. She was also an active resident representative on the East Neighbourhood Board, until it was recently disbanded.
Congratulations, Maureen, you’re a worthy winner!
Local Business Hero:
Winner: Chris Harrison
“Mr Harrison works tirelessly to ensure the people who work for him are looked after…he buys them tools so they can work…helps them with personal issues not just work ones. His company often helps out with charity requests or fundraising and sponsors the football team he coaches.”
Together with his brother Phil, he owns Harrison Contract Tiling Ltd., a local Warrington business which supplies and fits tiles to commercial concerns such as Mark & Spencer, and tiling new residential properties for building companies.
Chris provides jobs for local people who need a fresh start. “It’s similar to my story,” explains Chris. “I didn’t have many opportunities when I started out, so I know how it feels to be out of work.”
The business now employs twenty tilers, most of whom started out as apprentices with no qualifications and have been trained by Chris and his more experienced employees, some of whom were in the same situation when they started out. “I’ll never close the door on anyone,” says Chris. “If people have the will to work and the drive to succeed, I’ll give them a chance.”
Chris started his career in a different tiling company working as an admin person in the office. When the business owner retired, Chris trained as a tiler and together with his brother, set up Harrison Contract Tiling Ltd. Phil now supervises the tillers and Chris runs the office, booking jobs etc.
Chris is giving back to the local community, as the tilers are all from Warrington. “The lads do a great job,” says Chris. “They’re loyal, they care about their work and the company.” Chris’ generosity doesn’t stop there. He lends or buys tools and materials for the tilers, and has lent one of them a van for twelve months.
It’s a win-win situation: “The lads are grateful for the opportunity, work hard, and that’s good for the company,” says Chris.
As well as a businessman, Chris is a family man, with his wife, three children and a dog. One of his sons plays football.
Chris’ involvement doesn’t stop there. His business sponsors Eagles Junior Football Club, in Sankey. “No one else was willing to step up,” he smiles, “So I did!” Chris coaches the Under 7s team, and has helped the Club grow from one to three teams. He has encouraged more parents to get involved and looks after the Junior Club as a whole. “There’s very little money at the moment,” says Chris. As such he has organised a Hallowe’en party to raise funds. All the money raised will go towards ensuring that the teams can continue playing throughout the winter, as many games were cancelled last year due to flooded pitches. The money will pay for the hire of the 4G pitches to play and train at Great Sankey Leisure Club.
Other nominated business heroes who go out of their way to support local people and the local community are: Kellie Simmons and Terry Maguire.
Winner: Kirsty James
“Kirsty James set up Colony Community in 2015 as a social enterprise to offer family wellbeing awareness and education to parents and carers. She’s worked voluntarily for two years to organise quarterly support events on topics that challenge family wellbeing and happiness, such as eSafety, Mental Health, Nutrition, Financial Security and Allergies. Kirsty has worked collaboratively with local schools, pre-schools, community organisations and parent groups to run these events in the South Warrington area.
She’s involved local businesses and support organisations to allow them to showcase and share their expertise and bridge the gap between business and community.”
As a loyal networker, she supports and generates awareness for local ventures, projects and charities and strives to develop the prosperity and education of fellow entrepreneurs and the local economy. Kirsty is generous with her time, enthusiastic, collaborative and innovative in her approach. 2017 marks her 10th year in business and she remains as dedicated to her work and to offering great value as she was in 2007. Alongside Colony, she’s launched Colony Women (networking for women in business in Warrington), Colony Community (a social enterprise offering family wellbeing awareness events to parents), Health and Nutrition Matters (a family nutrition Facebook group), Soup on the Go Cheshire (a community crowd-funding project), Lymm Business Social, and she assists with marketing plans for the future development of Lymm village, including building a new community website. Kirsty is dedicated to her work and to making a difference in her local economy and she does this alongside a busy family life and committee responsibilities and all in school terms hours. Kirsty is a dynamo of energy but has modesty and humility and is therefore a perfect example of an unsung hero.
A special mention to some of the other nominations who continue to work tirelessly for their local community: Keith & Sue Bland, Warren Bibby and Alex Eaton.