Sunday, 05 April 2020

Salute to women of achievement

Salute to women of achievement

A WOMAN who has fund-raised for the Poppy Appeal for more than 30 years says she was “chuffed” to be honoured at this year’s Sue Ryder Women of Achievement Awards.

Margaret Butler, from Nettlebed, was one of six women from the Henley area to pick up prizes at the 14th annual awards, which were presented at a ceremony at Phyllis Court Club on Friday.

Hundreds of people, including almost 30 nominees, their families and friends, attended the black-tie dinner hosted by BBC Radio Berkshire presenter Michelle Jordan and auctioneer Jonty Hearnden.

The charity celebrated the achievements of women in seven categories — business, sport, community, public service, courage, innovation and mentoring.

Mrs Butler, 78, won the community award.

In addition to her work with the Royal British Legion, she also volunteers at the village surgery. She takes elderly people to hospital appointments and helps at the pensioners’ coffee morning every two weeks.

Mrs Butler said: “Somebody put my name forward [for the award] and I still haven’t found out who it was. Then, on the evening, it was even more of a surprise when I was announced as the winner.

“There were eight of us in the category, who have all done very well in different ways, and everyone said it was a hard section, so I felt quite chuffed to win. It is very gratifying for me to feel that you are appreciated but I just do it.

“A lot of people say you shouldn’t be doing this or that ‘at your age’ but, even if you’re 78, if you put your mind to it and keep going it moves life along and you get satisfaction from helping others. I am not one to sit in an armchair and watch television and I want to keep going for as long as I can because you are meeting people all the time and that is also what I enjoy.”

Mrs Butler wore her favourite dress to the awards ceremony and was accompanied by her husband, David, a retired builder, and their son Michael, his wife Jodi and grandsons Samuel and Harvey.

David Challis, secretary and treasurer of the Nettlebed branch of the Royal British Legion, joined them at their table.

Mrs Butler said: “It all looked beautiful and the tables were amazing. Everybody was so nice and friendly and we all cheered everybody who went up for a prize. It was really nice.”

She is also a committee member of the Nettlebed Sports Association, helps to organise the village fete and makes cakes for the village cricket team’s home matches. When it comes to it, we all muck in and help,” she said. “Whether it is a fete or something at the village club or the Legion, everybody gets involved.”

Melissa Walker, from Goring, who is a director of funeral directors A B Walker, won the public service prize.

She is a volunteer with Street Pastors, an organisation which cares for, listens to and helps people who are out on the streets between 10pm and 4am.

She also volunteers at Bed For The Night, which allows homeless people to shelter in churches throughout the winter months, and has created a bereavement course for people who are struggling to deal with their loss.

Mrs Walker, 48, said: “I am absolutely thrilled to bits. To be plucked out of all those amazing women is incredible and I feel really very honoured that they picked me. The things I do, I do because I purely love them, I don’t do it for any recognition. It is just in my nature to help.

“The bereavement work gives me a sense of reward in helping people at their most vulnerable and being there to support them.

“It is key to talk about death because as we become more au fait with it, death becomes less of a scary subject. It touches us all and coming to terms with that is also good for people’s mental health.

“With the street pastors, nobody knows where we will be in the future, we could all be in that situation and I have always felt you should treat people in the same way you would wish to be treated. It is about being kind to each other.”

She attended the ceremony with her husband Matthew, who is also a director at the funeral firm, and their children, Oliver and Charlotte.

Mrs Walker, who grew up in Northfield End and attended Gillotts School and The Henley College, said: “We were on a table with some amazing women and we all shared our stories. It was just a joyful evening and a lot of fun and we all cheered each other. It was lovely to be there.”

The business award was won by Rose Grimond, who founded Nettlebed Creamery in 2015 and has won several awards for her cheeses, which are now stocked by Waitrose.

She also works with Huntercombe Prison to help rehabilitate inmates.

Mrs Grimond said: “I was flattered and chuffed to bits to win. The other women in the category were so impressive that I had come to awards ceremony with low expectations of winning.

“When I launched the business I had no idea what I was in for and I suppose, if I did, I might not have done it. It has been a rollercoaster ride but I have also learnt a lot and it has all been worthwhile.”

Mrs Grimond, who was accompanied to the event by her father Johnny, said: “The night was beautifully organised and the film they showed of the work that Sue Ryder does was very moving.

“I was amazed just how many extraordinary people there are, and how many just in Nettlebed, and it was a pleasure to meet them all. It was just wonderful to see Margaret Butler win a prize for her decades of community service.”

Claire McIntosh won the sport category. She chairs the race committee of Henley Women’s Regatta and has helped organise the event for more than five years.

Ms McIntosh, an accountant, said: “It is so nice to have something positive happen. I do what I do because I love sport and rowing and I want the current crop of athletes to love it as much as I do.

“I think one thing is very clear and that’s women’s and girls’ rowing is on the up. There is so much more female participation in rowing than there was 10 and 20 years ago.”

Susanna Scott, from Henley, won the innovation award after she founded blogging site BritMums in 2008.

Mrs Scott, who attended the ceremony with her friend Charlene Brown, said: “I was honoured to be among such an impressive group of women.

“Sue Ryder hospice at home is such a valuable service. My mother passed away a few years back and we used an at home hospice service. It’s one of those services that you hope you never have to use but when you need it, it’s a godsend.”

The mentor award was won by Tamsin Phipps, leader of Wargrave 1st Guides. She has been involved in guiding for 53 years.

She said the honour was “a bit embarrassing” because she only saw her role as a “pleasure”.

Ms Phipps, who lives in Wargrave and is a services manager for Age UK Berkshire, said: “It just has been a real privilege to see these girls grow up and give them opportunities to do things that they wouldn’t have otherwise — and it is great fun.”

She attended the ceremony with her friend Paul Owen.

The event, the last to be held before Sue Ryder sells its hospice at Joyce Grove, Nettlebed, raised £67,906 for the charity. The money will help fund the care and support for people aged 18 and over who are living with life-limiting conditions in the Thames Valley.

Fern Haynes, head of hospice fundraising at Sue Ryder, said: “It was very humbling to be in a room filled with women who go above and beyond in their chosen field.”

The event sponsors were Invesco, the Russell Partnership Collection, Lifecycle Management Group, CH&Co, the Ironing Lady and G D Evans Interiors.

• More pictures from the event will be published in next week’s Henley Standard.

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