Royal Holloway, University of London’s Community Action again hosted this year’s Runnymede & Spelthorne Volunteer Awards, celebrating contributions by community and student volunteers to help make where they live, work, and study a better place for all. This is first time Spelthorne was included in the awards.
Community Action alongside Voluntary Support North Surrey welcomed the Mayors of Runnymede and Spelthorne to help present fifteen awards, in categories such as Young Volunteer of the Year, Community Project of the Year and the CHEP Award for Lifetime Achievement in Volunteering.
The award winners with Mayor Iftikhar Chaudhri
The Mayor's Cup 2017
Alongside the many student volunteers recognised for giving hours of their time to the community, one special student award was given by the Mayor of Runnymede – The Mayor’s Cup 2017.
This year’s winner, Royal Holloway student Sophie Byrne, from the School of Biological Sciences was the proud recipient, with the Mayor recognising her as a volunteer always ready to go far beyond to serve their community.
Sophie’s passionate involvement in a number of projects, from youth drop-ins to nature preservation work with The National Trust, meant she was a worthy winner. Sophie commented on her experiences:
“Volunteering has been an incredible experience. I've been involved with so many different projects and developed so many skills. It has brought out confidence within me that I didn't think I had! I have had a wonderful time volunteering and would recommend anyone to do so.
“The role has allowed me to go to a local sixth form college in Sunningdale, a youth club at the Forest Estate Community Hub and facilitate opportunities around Christmas and litter picking. I’ve also worked on a nature conservation project alongside the National Trust.
“If anyone feels inspired I would encourage them to speak to Community Action or your local volunteer centre. It doesn't take a long time to make a difference. If you could spend an hour keeping someone company or helping teach someone a new skill, it is always appreciated!”
From foodie treats to festive cheer
Other winners of the evening included Psychology undergraduate Jue Jong. Jue was awarded International Volunteer of the Year, leading the successful International Kitchen project, bringing flavours from around the world to local schools.
Community Action Project of the Year was awarded to Santa’s Workshop, led by Katherine Buckley from the Department of Psychology. This festive effort saw 220 gift bags packed for residents of local care homes.
Royal Holloway’s Swimming Club was also recognised for its outstanding contribution to volunteering. Their committee rallied members to donate the most shoeboxes as part of the Love in a Box Christmas appeal by The Trussell Trust, and they have regularly volunteered with Surrey Dolphins to support mobility sessions for local people with disabilities. Inspired by the iwill campaign, which challenges volunteers to pledge 200 hours as a group, they exceeded the target by far.
Nurturing nature with the National Trust
Community Partner of the Year was awarded to National Trust, Runnymede which has engaged students in a vast range of projects – including the management of over 1,000 invasive trees in local woodland.
Phil Simcock, Community Action Volunteer Manager commented on the evening, “We were delighted to welcome over 250 people to the awards which recognised and celebrated volunteers young and old, and the amazing contribution they give to the community.
“Our guest speakers Karl Wilding, from the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, and Candice Herndon, from sponsors CHEP, the international logistics company brought encouragement and inspiration to our guests. This was all topped off with fantastic music from our Gospel Choir and music students. It was a night for the whole community.”