Four South West community heroes have been honoured for making a difference in their home towns.
In a year like no other, 22 unique purple plaques, one for each census that has taken place to date, have been awarded to community stars up and down the country.
With census day just around the corner, ordinary people are being celebrated for the extraordinary contributions they have made, and to highlight how census data helps to build better communities. From volunteering during the pandemic, to supporting those with mental health issues, the winners have made an amazing difference during a difficult time.
The competition received hundreds of entries across England and Wales and Barnstaple’s Jack Littlejohns, Yeovil’s Mat Callaghan, Midsomer Norton’s Kate Turner and Cornwall’s Tracey Flemming were among the winners.
Mr Littlejohns was awarded his for services to sport and raising money within his local community in north Devon for Barnstaple Ability Football Club. He was also recently a finalist for this year’s BBC Sports Personality of the Year Unsung Hero Award for the South West region.
He said: “I am truly grateful to have received the Census 2021 Community Hero Award, amongst the hundreds of entries that were submitted. Supporting the Barnstaple ability football club has been a true pleasure of mine, and I am thrilled to have been selected for this award.”
Ms Fleming’s award was for her dedication to her community in Cornwall, providing takeaway services and doorstep food delivery parcels for those shielding and self-isolating during the pandemic.
She said: “The pandemic has meant that so many of us have faced hardship, I wanted to do what I can to support the people who needed it most within my community.”
Mr Callaghan was honoured for his services to his local community in Yeovil, volunteering at the Lord’s Larder food bank for many years and raising £50,000 of donations in 2020.
“The Lord’s Larder food bank is a true passion project of mine, I am honestly thrilled to have been selected for this award,” he said.
Ms Turner’s award was for her services to her local community in Midsomer Norton and providing education on reducing waste.
“Doing what I can to help save the environment is a true passion of mine, I am absolutely thrilled to have been selected for this award,” she said.
The entries were judged by a panel of noteworthy community champions, led by actress and presenter Joanna Page.
Ms Page commented: “It was such a pleasure to read through all the amazing entries. In what has been a difficult year for so many of us, this was a great opportunity to say thank you to the people who go above and beyond to serve their local community.”
The census, taking place on 21 March 2021, will shed light on the needs of different groups and communities, and the inequalities people are experiencing, ensuring the big decisions facing the country following the pandemic and EU exit are based on the best information possible.