As part of the Champions of Change Awards, five members of the public are also having their humanitarian service recognised.
The Community Champion Award is a new addition to this year’s ceremony, which will take place at a ceremony at the House of Lords of 26th April, hosted by Baroness Harris of Richmond and presented by Lord William Hague.
Much like the Champions of Change, these Community Champions are the selfless, determined and innovative unsung heroes of our communities who have led and inspired others to make a difference at home and abroad.
The awards are given in two categories, domestic and international.
Community Champions 2017
Lee Burke (Domestic) – Petty Pool Outdoor Trust
As the Business Development Manager at Petty Pool Outdoor Centre in South Cheshire, Lee’s role involves giving the young people who visit a better understanding of themselves and pushing their own boundaries through fun and educational challenges and activities.
The programmes include outdoor activity courses for schools and youth groups, and trips to the trust are often sponsored by a Rotary club. The visits help build young people’s leadership, communication and teamwork skills. Lee also educates visitors about Rotary with several RotaKids clubs being formed as a result of a visit.
Lee’s leadership and drive enhances the lives of all of the young people using the facilities at Petty Pool Centre in Northwich.
As business manager of this South Cheshire-based Outdoor Centre, Lee, pictured above, is tireless in his pursuit of fine-tuning existing projects and introducing new themes to encourage kids to ‘go beyond’ their capabilities. Climbing and abseiling, canoeing and zip wiring are among the activities on offer, while nature and stream walks, den building, and orienteering are also available.
The project, part of an Education Centre set in 40 acres of woodland, invigorates, educates and challenges participants, increasing their self-confidence and feelgood factor.
They are values which coincide with the Rotary values of problem-solving, resilience, leadership and teamwork.
Many of the visitors come through the education system, but its courses cater for the likes of Urban Kids Go Outdoors, Rotary Youth Leadership Award summer camp, plus visitors from Malta and China who are visiting through Rotary sponsorship.
New RotaKids and Interact Clubs have been formed and the use of social media has helped enormously for Petty Pool to connect and engage with its young audience.
Practical projects are encouraged to benefit the community such as a sensory garden in a nearby park, a walkway and flower beds at a nearby school.
According to Lee, it’s all about turning learning into fun, and for the centre to go that extra mile to get the best out of each group of visitors
Lee expressed his surprise at the nomination and confirmed his delight at an opportunity to visit the House of Lords Awards evening. He said: “There are few times in my life when I am speechless and this is one of them. I would like to thank everyone for their kindness and support and to say what a pleasure it is to do what I am doing and to have the opportunity to promote the family of Rotary.”
Katie Bushell (Domestic) – Malawi Foster Care
After a visit to Malawi in 2009, Katie witnessed first-hand the problems of hunger, disease and shortage of orphan care. She therefore set up Malawi Foster Care, a charity supporting orphaned boys who often have no shelter, no access to education and very little food.
The project has received a great deal of support from West Wirral Rotary Club, as well as clubs in Malawi, and has now built three boys homes and is being extended to support the elderly in outlying villages who also care for the orphaned.
Chris Evans (Domestic) – The Butterfly Garden
When Chris had a visit from a group of six autistic children in 2002 to his small commercial nursery and garden centre, little did he know that 15 years later, the site would grow to support 200 people a week with gardening, cooking, drama and art activities.
The Butterfly Garden in Cheltenham is an educational, therapeutic and recreational scheme for people of all ages with disablement of any kind, run entirely by volunteers, including Chris who acts as the garden’s Project Coordinator.
Peju Oluyomi (Domestic and International) – Haven of Rest
Peju of Haven of Rest has devoted her time and resources to fundraising for projects and mobilising professionals to support and empower the community in Chitsotso village in Zimbabwe. Haven of Rest works with girls who have been sexually abused and as a result have suffered significant trauma.
The project delivered health education to the girls and the Chitsotso community as a whole, as well as donating equipment and building a new road to improve access to clinics and their services.
Betty Weir (Domestic) – Broomlands and Boutreehill Age Concern
Betty, supported by a fantastic band of happy volunteers has been a mainstay of Age Concern Broomlands and Bourtreehill for just over 40 years. As a founding member of the organisation in 1975, Betty leads a team of volunteers who give up their time and talents to help people locally.
The Lunch Club provides an appealing refuge for the community’s elderly residents, providing meals and stimulating social activities.
Read the inspiring stories of the 2017 Champions of Change. You can follow the awards live on Twitter on 26th April and get involved by using #RotaryCofC.
Published: Thursday 13th April 2017