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UNSUNG HEROES: First awards

Awards Chris Craig Wellow

Local charity Unity with Andover’s Member of Youth Parliament have announced the first recipients of the Test Valley COVID-19 Unsung Heroes Award.

The award which aims to recognise and highlight amazing people that have ‘gone above and beyond’ to assist their local communities around the Test Valley throughout the Coronavirus pandemic was created by north west Hampshire’s Member of Youth Parliament Dmitrijs Meiksans.

This week, the shortlisting panel voted to select Chris Craig, from Wellow, and The Braishfield Village Pantry as the recipients of the award.

One nominator for Chris Craig said, “Chris has gone above and beyond for the residents of Wellow since the first lockdown, running the Wellow Community Group, even buying food out of his own pocket for a lady who hadn’t had anything for months.  He’s a volunteer NHS responder, and now gives Covid vaccinations.  He never stops and always puts others before himself.  He runs the Wellow foodbank collection which is donated to Romsey foodbank.  He has befriended an elderly gentleman in the village.” 

Another nominator said, “Chris has truly been the embodiment of a ‘Covid-hero’.  His determination, dedication and sheer hard work has been exceptional throughout the crisis. At the beginning of the first lockdown the parish of Wellow, which is both geographically and numerically large, was left at short notice without any local support network.

“Chris stepped into the breach, organising a comprehensive network of volunteers to support vulnerable residents and those shielding within a couple of days. Chris was to be found not only coordinating the work of the many dozens of volunteers who stepped forward but also shopping for residents, collecting their prescriptions and delivering supplies to them.  Regardless of time of day (or night) or whether it was the weekend, Chris was on call to help.

“Additionally, Chris coordinated the efforts for the local food bank.  Collecting excess food and delivering it to the centre where, given the amount collected, much was passed on to neighbouring food banks.  Chris attends the distribution of fresh produce in Southampton each week, supporting communities less fortunate than his own.

“Chris kept the village up to date through posts to the village Facebook group, which has over 2,700 members and which he also administers.  Posting national and local information and identifying collection days for the food bank through very effective social media use.   

“How Chris finds spare time is beyond me, but he does and in it he cares for his young sons, overseeing their home schooling and taking them on regular walks, which he then uses to identify where improvements are needed to the parish footpath network. 

“Not only that but he then passes the details of the walks on to others in the village to encourage people to get out and about and exercise safely and close to home. Chris would be livid if he knew he was being recommended for an award.  Which makes it all the more appropriate that he is considered for such.”

NOMINATE YOUR UNSUNG HERO HERE

The Braishfield Village Pantry also received the award, one nominator said, “The Pantry has been a wonderful support for the whole village over the last year. Friendly, caring, supportive, going that extra mile. It has been the best place for the lonely to come to see a friendly face and to have someone to talk to whilst shopping, and to know that life is still going on and that all will be well eventually.

“The amount of work and thought that has gone into keeping the Pantry going over the last year has been amazing. We are very lucky.”

Another nominator said, “I believe the pantry deserve this award for the support and provision it has provided on a continuous basis throughout the pandemic. Within a week of the first lockdown last March, the team (all made up of volunteers) had safely organised a delivery service for vulnerable or shielding residents in the village.

“The team successfully managed and coordinated a group of volunteers to provide four deliveries to residents on a daily (weekday) basis. Deliverers were also able to check on the wellbeing of those residents whilst delivering essential supplies.

“Not only was the pantry providing a vital service to a rural village and community, it managed to keep local suppliers in business by continuing to support them. Furthermore, The Pantry managed to top up the Village Hall’s much-needed funds which were depleted due to the hall having to remain closed to bookings etc”

The Unsung Heroes Awards team were proud to present both Chris and The Braishfield Pantry with a Test Valley COVID-19 Unsung Heroes Award today.

Awards organiser Dmitirjs Meiksans MYP says, “We thank them for their amazing efforts to support their fellow residents.”

About the author

David Harber

David Harber is the founder and Managing Director of Love Andover, including the Love Andover Observer newspaper and 95.9FM Andover Radio. He is a fellow at the Royal Society of Arts and a card carrying member of the Nation Union of Journalists.

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