Three Brockenhurst residents who’ve regularly gone above and beyond in their support of the community have been presented with the village’s first ever Citizen Awards. A fourth award was made in recognition of lifelong service to the village community.  Around 70 local people filled the Village Hall exhibition room for the event, many individually supporting the winners.

Citizen of Brockenhurst Awards night

The scheme was created by the Brockenhurst Village Trust, which runs the village hall and works to build a stronger community spirit locally. There were 23 nominations for the prizes, and residents were able to nominate anyone who’s helped a friend or neighbour directly, or in the wider sense contributed to the well-being of the community.

These were judged by Sue Hunter, the Chair of the Village Trust, Captain Mike Matthews (RN) who is Chair of the village Royal British Legion, and Reuben Humphries, the Church Youth and Young person support worker. 

“We were moved by the range of nominations, and found really special people who put themselves out to provide a service, or make the community a better place to live,” says Sue Hunter, the Trust Chairman. “Most people live in comfortable homes in this lovely village, so to find those who go out of their way, at all times and in all weathers to help others not so fortunate, or to provide a much-needed service, is inspirational.”

The four local people who received awards were:

Mrs Carolyn Waterman

Carolyn has worked to support Brockenhurst’s Methodist Church for many years, and runs its hall, including organising the Tiddlers parent and toddler group for young people. She is a key member of the local Riding for the Disabled Club, distributes the Parish Magazine, visits elderly people who are housebound, and collects for charities including the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal.

One of her nominees commented: ‘Carolyn is one of the most self-less people I know. She supports and engages with numerous activities in the village, some almost single handed.’. Another wrote, ‘She is a very kind and caring lady who would support you if you only asked.’.

Mrs Cynthia Wilson

Cynthia plays a leading light in music activities in Brockenhurst. She led church music at the Parish for more than 20 years, and a Music and Movement Group for pre-school children for more than 30 years. ‘Sing for Fun’, and ‘The Friday Girls’ are singing groups she organises which perform around the village, for example in homes for the elderly.

Her music events regularly raise money for charity – last October an event with the Bournemouth Male Voice Choir raised more than £1000. In other ways she supports church activities – such as being a street pastor, and regularly assists people in New Milton and Lymington on Thursday and Friday nights who may be ‘worse for wear’. Cynthia is also a Pastoral Visitor, undertaking visits to those in need through health, loneliness, or age in Brockenhurst to provide company and assistance.

Cynthia Wilson received her Citizen award

In her nominations one person wrote: ‘Some people provide the ‘glue’ for a community. Cynthia Wilson is such a person.’ Another wrote that, ‘She opens her house and heart to neighbours’.

Mr Russel Horne

Russel Horne is a Parish Councillor who for many years has masterminded the Brockenhurst Christmas lighting and other village projects. His biggest challenge over the last three years has been working with a wide range of organisations such as BT Openreach, the National Park Authority, Forestry England and Hampshire County Council to bring fibre broadband to a large part of the village. The different partners each had separate issues and requirements in delivering high speed internet to some 400 homes in and around New Forest Drive, long after this was installed in other parts of Brockenhurst. Issues included how to route the fibre in sensitive environmental areas, to the siting of different components such as road side cabinets. For a long time, it seemed impossible to bring them together, but Russel worked patiently, finally achieving the project in mid-2019.

As one of his nominations said ‘His work required two years of constant pressure to bring organisations together for the benefit of the community…he is the driving force and has made an outstanding contribution.’ Another wrote, ‘It amounts to many, many hours of voluntary dedication, and has produced significant results much appreciated by the village’.

Mr John Purkess

The judges wanted to make a special (and to John a surprise) award ro recognise the lifelong service of John Purkess. John has spent more than 70 years serving the village, both as a key local shop keeper, and on a wide range of village groups including the Parish Council. His local knowledge is legendary, and he gives freely of his experience, both with expert testimony and passion.

The award to John was a surprise – he’d agreed to come and give a short talk on the community spirit of Brockenhurst. “I’m a little stuck for words, and this is a great honour” he told the audience who were enthusiastic in their clapping for him, as for the other winners.

John Purkess – Lifelong Citizen award

The prizes, which were sponsored by Meadens Skoda garage, were presented by the judges, and Peter Sexton, owner of Meadens.  Among those who attended to help celebrate the citizens were local County Councillor and Leader of Hampshire County Council Keith Mans, and District Councillor Maureen Holding.

“We are delighted at the response,” says Sue Hunter. “To be able to thank those who work so tirelessly and to recognise them, is very worthwhile. In turn we hope this will inspire others to go out and help others, and make Brockenhurst an even better place to live.”