Over 20 local residents and groups who between them give hundreds of hours each week to make a real difference in their community have been recognised and celebrated by the Mayor of Guildford.

The Mayor’s 2020 Award for Service to the Community rewards people who were nominated by residents in the borough, and this year’s list features musicians, charity fundraisers, homeless shelter volunteers, theatre directors, scout leaders, parish councillors and clerks, school teachers and governors, retail managers, care centre co-ordinators and other community leaders, as well as Guildford Street Angels and the Trustees of Number Five, who both receive collective recognition.

The Mayor of Guildford, Cllr Richard Billington, says:

“Everyone receiving an award has been nominated by residents whose lives have been touched by their kindness, generosity of spirit and endless enthusiasm, in some cases over many years. Supporting health in our community has been the theme for my mayoral year and every one of the award recipients have made significant contributions to both the physical and mental health of the borough.

“Their stories are inspiring and confirm the wonderful sense of community that we have in Guildford. I am delighted to be able to recognise the tremendous contribution that they have made to the borough, which feels particularly appropriate in the midst of a pandemic.”

Guildford Street Angels, established in 2008 by the churches of Guildford, provide year-round town centre patrols every Friday and Saturday night from 10.30pm until 4am. Their work, in supporting individuals and tidying streets, equates to approximately 25,000 volunteer hours every year. The Number Five homeless shelter, on York Road, this year celebrates its 30th anniversary, and the continued dedication and expertise of its Trustees enable it to provide emergency accommodation for rough sleepers 365 days a year.

Also receiving awards are husband and wife, David and Judith Hunt, who have each worked with the 1st Merrow Scout Group for over 30 years, and in 2019 established the Beating Hearts Merrow Campaign to raise money for three public-access defibrillators.

“We feel surprised and honoured to be receiving these awards,” said David and Judith. “We feel they should be shared with so many friends and fellow volunteers, in Scouting, Beating Hearts Merrow and St John’s Church.”

For the last two years, Matt Gaskin has provided a free Christmas dinner for 265 people at St Joseph’s Church in Guildford. In leading the initiative which has gained significant support from individuals and businesses, he has brought extra Christmas cheer to the elderly and vulnerable in his local community.

Mr Gaskin says:

“I am extremely honoured and grateful to be receiving such an important award for services to the community. I’m sure every other nominee was as capable, if not more, of winning this award. It would not have been possible without the support of my family and the wonderful local businesses that sponsor and help me to be able to provide the help and support.

“The Christmas day meal we provide every year is only made possible with the amazing support given to us to enable us to cook for people from all walks of society. This is a great chance for people to get together and support each other every year.”

All nominations were made and assessed before the coronavirus pandemic.

The Mayor’s Award for Service to the Community is kindly sponsored by The County Club, High Street, Guildford. A presentation ceremony will be held at The County Club as soon as it is safe to do so.