Village angels honoured at first community Above and Beyond awards

above-1TEN UNASSUMING Saddleworth villagers, described as “the wind beneath their communities’ wings”, have been honoured with special accolades.

They were praised at the first ever glittering Above and Beyond Awards which celebrated villagers who go that extra mile in the service of others.

The scheme, part funded by the communities and local ward councillors, was devised and hosted by The Saddleworth Independent founder, Ken Bennett.

More than 60 guests attended the presentation dinner at Dobcross Band and Social Club.

Ken told the audience: “All award winners have in their own unique, individual way surpassed the awards’ ideals and aspirations.

“None would ever claim to be front of house, self-seeking publicists clamouring for personal recognition.

“But they all share one intrinsic, common bond: an unquenchable desire to play an often vital, sometimes indispensable role, in their own village or the wider area.”

Locals and community groups chose the winners, who received a keepsake, a letter from The Queen and a framed certificate from guest of honour, mountaineering legend Paul Braithwaite.

Paul himself was presented with an award by Cllr Derek Heffernan, the Mayor of Oldham, Cllr Pam Byrne, chair of Saddleworth Parish Council and Cllr Adrian Alexander, chair of Saddleworth and Lees District Partnership.

A raffle raised £250 for Paul Braithwaite’s chosen charity, Campaign Action Nepal, which is helping rebuild the community after devastating earthquakes.

Delph’s winner, Ian Shepard, was tagged the village’s ‘Mister Fix It’ for spending more than 30 years helping with TVs, alarms, central heating and all manner of household advice.

Ian is volunteer building manager of Millgate Theatre, Box Office and Advertising and supports Delph Library volunteers and Whit Friday.

Gary Kershaw from Denshaw, a former professional cricketer with Friarmere, became club chairman and launched an under 9’s team, winning both summer leagues this year and competed at under 11’s, 13’s and he also formed a men’s 3rd 11.

A tireless volunteer, he assists his wife with a youth drama group and has organised a flourishing twice-weekly table tennis club.

Dave Wood, Diggle’s very own man of music, was praised for singlehandedly staging the Diggle Blues festival for eight years.

The free festival has gained almost international status and currently Dave has nearly 400 respected applications clamouring to fill around a dozen slots.

Edna Bottomley, “a real unsung hero” of Dobcross set up ‘Saddleworth Amblers’ which has more than 50 members and provides significant physical and mental health benefits to participants.

Edna collects voluntary contributions each week from the group and when the ‘pot’ reaches £50 a donation is made to charities, raising thousands over the years.

Dedicated nurse and mother Emily Wilson, Greenfield’s winner, is the driving force behind the 23rd Oldham Greenfield St Mary’s Scout Group. She is ultimately responsible for the Beavers, Cubs and Scouts, and sits on the Group Executive Committee.

Her citation said: “Without Emily’s efforts scores of Greenfield children would not have had the opportunity to engage in scouting over the last five years”.

Grotton’s winner, Kath Hodges, “a consummate community volunteer,” has spent a lifetime volunteering.

She was founder member of Medlock Vale Ladies Circle, founder chair of Medlock Vale Tangent and is currently secretary and hall bookings at The Pavilion and works in support of the gala, bonfire, Christmas lights switch-on and the Whit Friday Band contest.

Lydgate’s Celia Glesdale, a talented textile artist, was praised for encouraging the Lydgate Stitchers to produce stunning wall hangings.

She has taught people who couldn’t sew to become competent craftswomen and brought a valued community focus, winning respect for the group.

Scouthead’s Kath Angove, a school governor, is involved in a wide range of community initiatives and committees.

She is to committed to the Saddleworth Health and Safety Programme during school’s during autumn term and with her husband John runs two dance classes and organises trips away for their members.

Christine Blackburn, Springhead’s winner, is a self-taught gardener, who was praised for creating stunning displays of flowers and blooms on the roadside and car park in her tiny street.

Her displays have created a therapeutic and environmental haven and have been welcomed by locals and walkers.

Doctor Eamon O’Daly from Uppermill set up the Saddleworth Carers Group for those who look after loved ones with dementia.

Dr O’Daly, who lost his first wife to Altzeimers, was praised for using his personal experience to empathise with the carers themselves.

“His positive attitude to life means people warm to him,” declared the citation.

Do YOU know someone who goes the extra mile for YOUR village and deserves an award? For more information contact Ken Bennett on: 07802 966922 or email:


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