October 23, 2017
Burnham and Highbridge Civic Awards presented to four residents

Four residents from Burnham-On-Sea and Highbridge were awarded Civic Awards on Sunday (October 22nd) in recognition of their service to our local community.

Pat Burge, John Strickland, and Colin and Eileen Rufus, were honoured during the annual Civic Service held at St John's Church in Highbridge, which was attended by hundreds of local residents and dignitaries.

The award winners, chosen by the Town Council, were drawn up from a list of nominees submitted by local residents earlier this year.

The service was preceded by a short procession of civic dignitaries along Burnham Road to Church Street, past the war memorial to St John's Church, pictured above.

The Mayor of Burnham and Highbridge, Mayor Cllr Bill Hancock, led Sunday's ceremony alongside the Deputy Lieutenant of Somerset, Brigadier Tom Lang. He praised the winners for their "huge commitment and dedication".

After a welcome from Rev Sharon Crossman, the Mayor's Chaplain, there was a prayer led by Rebecca Fear, the Mayor's cadet.

After a bible reading from the Mayor's daughter, Debbie Hancock, there followed a thought-provoking address from the Right Rev Peter Hancock, Bishop of Bath and Wells, pictured above arriving at the Highbridge church.

A medley of songs were performed by Siobhan Johnson's singers - Emily Thomas gave a powerful rendition of 'Feeling Good', Fiona Williams gave a confident, spirited performance of 'Almost There' and Brent Knoll School's Choir sang a stirring version of 'This Little Light Of Mine'.

The four winners then received their Civic Awards. In a change to previous years, those who had nominated the winners explained why they'd chosen them.

Dot Anderson explained why former Mayoress Pat Burge is deserving of her award, pointing to her long involvement with Highbridge Community Hall, St John's Church, Moose, Sea Cadets and as a former councillor of 16 years.

Roger Tolley talked about why he'd chosen Colin and Eileen Rufus, drawing attending to their long-term dedication and loyalty to Burnham-On-Sea Lions Club plus fundraising, marshalling and involvement with local Cub and Scout Groups and school supervisory work.

Alex Turco explained why he'd nominated John Strickland, discussing his role as a mainstay of North Sedgemoor History Group, the Capture Burnham history project, and the town's history trail.

The Mayor asked for a "special moment of thought" for a fifth person, the late Brian Saunders, who had been nominated for his outstanding involvement in the community at The Princess Theatre and other community groups, but sadly passed away recently.

After the awards presentations, young up-and-coming Burnham-On-Sea band Drop The Mic performed a lively, upbeat performance of 'Summer Of '69' and 'Twist and Shout', pictured below.

Three members of Somerset Time For Youth, the Mayor's chosen charity for the year, explained their group's work. Lisa Prout talked about the group's aims and fundraising plans for the coming year, and thanked the Mayor for his support. 10% of the service's collection also went to St John's Church's window appeal.

After prayers and hymns, the service ended with the singing of the National Anthem and a civic tea at the Oaktree Arena.

Presentations were made by the Mayor to those who had helped make the event a success, including Brigadier Tom Lang and his wife, plus Rev Sharon Crossman - the Mayor's Chaplain, Rebecca Fear - the Mayor's Cadet, Tatiana Cant - Town Clerk, and the council's Lorna Brewer and Lorna Williams, plus Debbie Hancock.

The Mayor told afterwards: "It was a superb afternoon for four deserving members of our community. I was also keen for the service to highlight the young talents we have in our area and the work of our local young people and groups."

Burnham-On-Sea and Highbridge's MP James Heappey was among those in attendance at Sunday's event in the town.

The four winners with the Deputy Lieutenant of Somerset, Brigadier Tom Lang and his wife, plus Mayor Bill Hancock and Mayoress Frances Hancock

The Mayor and Mayoress with Somerset Time For Youth's Lisa Prout, Jenny Edwards and Maxine Brookes - the group is the Mayor's charity of the year.

The Mayor with Rev Sharon Crossman - the Mayor's Chaplain, and Rebecca Fear - the Mayor's Cadet.

Brent Knoll School Choir singing during Sunday's Civic Service in Highbridge.


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