THE RED carpet was rolled out to celebrate what makes Stratford district special on Friday February 13..
The fourth annual Touch FM Pride of Stratford Awards saw over 430 guests, from the local business, public, statutory and voluntary sectors, join a glittering awards ceremony at The Holiday Inn to honour the achievements of the district’s citizens.
Stratford MP Nadhim Zahawi thanked the audience for making Stratford the place it was – “the greatest town in England”.
He added: “When I’m in Westminster, I draw my inspiration from this town, and I never tire of making the case that we need to make the rest of our country not more like London, but more like Stratford.
The finalists and winners of the business and community awards were announced before Touch FM Chief Executive Steve Orchard announced the recipients of some special awards.
The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust’s Learning and Participation Team was recognised for their efforts in making Shakespeare
understandable and enjoyable for all ages.
Sharon Stephens was also singled out for her efforts supporting business in the district over the past decade having founded The Stratford upon Avon Directory and The Essential Guide.
And super foster mum Pauline Bayliss was honoured for having fostered 37 children between 1992 and 2002, from new-borns to 11 year-olds, all from challenging backgrounds. Pauline cared for and nurtured each and every one, offering them love, guidance and reassurance. She also brought up three of her own children and found time to work as a waitress at the Charlecote Pheasant Hotel.
The evening also raised money for The Stratford Cancer & Eye Hospital Appeal through a raffle, as well as an auction where one local company had the opportunity to Bid for The Barclays Premier League Trophy to be displayed in their work place for a morning.
The winners were:
Business of the Year – CCL Group Ltd – Founded in 1986 as an independent IT consultancy, providing expert advice.
Small Business of the Year – The Cycle Studio Ltd – Stratford-based cycle retailer offering customers a wide selection of brands and expert advice. In April 2014 The Cycle Studio invested in a state of the art, computer controlled bike fitting system, one of only four in the UK.
Business Person of the Year – Jonathan Duncan – Set up Avon Services Plumbing and Heating Ltd which began with small domestic work. The company now employs nine members of staff. Jon has also set up a second business called Avon Renewables Ltd which sits alongside Avon Services Ltd
Tourism Initiative of the Year – Stratford Town Walk – Established in the summer of 2002 by John and Helen Hogg who identified a gap in the market for professionally guided town walks. It provides daily guided walks and ghost tours 365 days.
Town Centre Business of the Year – Gemini – Sells contemporary British, Scandinavian and European clothing, shoes accessories, gifts and home décor. Since opening it has expanded to having three units in Wood Street and continues to grow via its website.
Hospitality Business of the Year – Avonlea Guest House – Located on Shipston Road in Stratford it has eight bedrooms. A large proportion of the business comes from tourists and many return guests.
Customer Care Award – The One Elm – The second gastro pub opened in Warwickshire by the award-winning pub company Peach.
Team of the Year – Enable and The RSC Costume Department
– Enable build software using Microsoft technologies, focusing on the design, development, ongoing support and hosting of business applications. These are delivered on the web and also as mobile and tablet applications.
– The RSC Costume Department is one of the largest production costume departments in the UK and responsible for creating, maintaining and providing all costumes and wigs for all RSC productions.
Arts Organisation of the Year – The Phoenix Players – The amateur drama group has been performing in Stratford since 1945. The group has members ranging in age from five to 85 and currently has a membership of around 40. The group performs three shows a year covering and is run by a committee of elected members who work on a voluntary basis.
Citizen of the Year – Maureen Beckett – Since arriving in Stratford 27 years ago from Yorkshire with husband Keith and family, Maureen has worked tirelessly for the benefit of fellow Stratfordians over the years. Being a former mayor and district councillor for many years has given Maureen an understanding of the many needs within the community and she has led the way with many local projects including the refurbishment of Wesley Hall Methodist Church, Stratford in Bloom, Talking Newspaper, as well as organising events for the local community including Songs of Praise on the Recreation Ground.
Carer of the Year – Katie Berry and Veronica Hurford
– Katie Berry works for Mencap Pathway, supporting adults with learning disabilities. Kate’s passion is to provide yearly events such as day trips and Christmas dinners to allow everyone to come together and enjoy themselves. She has organised these events for three years and has twice been nominated at work for going the extra mile.
– Veronica Hurford was nominated by a person she helped over a period of time – visiting them after they left hospital, cleaning their home and making meals, while also caring for her elderly father and her own family.
Educator of the Year – Peter Butler – Retired last year from The Willows Primary School in Stratford after 41 years at the school. A consummate professional and much-loved, Peter influenced hundreds of pupils over the years. His retirement was celebrated in style with his very own victory tour of his town aboard a vintage Stagecoach bus and a special assembly in his honour.
Young Achiever of the Year – Bill Jones – At 13 he started a project to make a film about the experiences of local D-Day veterans leading up to the 70th anniversary of the Second World War. The film took him over a year to produce. The now 14 year-old from Tiddington worked hard researching and meeting people to help with the film. He interviewed local veterans and he worked closely with musicians, photographers and film makers to gain knowledge on how to put together a film. The end result was a 43 minute documentary honouring the veterans.
Stratford’s Pride Award – Orchestra of the Swan – Founded in 1995, under the inspiring and enthusiastic guidance of its Artistic Director David Curtis, the orchestra’s reputation continues to grow both nationally and internationally, making it a fine ambassador for the town. While the name Orchestra of the Swan is known around the globe, the orchestra continues to involve itself for the benefit of the local community.
MP Nadhim Zahawi hailed Stratford as “the greatest town in England”. Photo by Hayley Edwards. (s)
Bill Jones was named Young Achiever of the Year. Photo by Hayley Edwards. Photo by Hayley Edwards. (s)