29th December - Visit to the Pilsdon Community
I was privileged to be able to visit the Pilsdon Community, which has had to isolate itself during the last nine months in order to protect the members and guests at the community. Established over 60 years ago in an old manor house outside Bridport, Pilsdon has been offering a refuge to people in crisis, welcoming those from all backgrounds and from many different walks of life – whether young or old, rich or poor. Through a common life of prayer, hospitality and work, it provides an environment where people can begin to rebuild their lives.
2020 has been different and the Revd Sue Langdon, Warden of the Community for just over a year, has had to deal with unforeseen issues. During the time of the pandemic, she and her team of members have worked assiduously to keep safe all those living in the community. She was able to use all her skills from an earlier career as a Ward Sister to ensure that protocols for safety were devised and followed. For months from the start of the first lockdown, she made sure that everything needed to keep the community running day to day was achieved and she, and all the members, took no proper time off during that period or even left the site.
Presenting a High Sheriff’s Community Award, George Streatfeild said: “Everyone who lives and works at Pilsdon should be congratulated on the way that they are living through difficult times and Sue’s leadership has been a beacon of light through it all.”
Pictured: George Streatfeild, with Mary Davies, Sue Langdon and Frantisek Sindelka – staff at the Pilsdon Community
18th December - Dorset's Probation Service
Dorset’s High Sheriff, George Streatfeild, made a brief visit to Poole to meet some of Dorset’s Probation team. Following a Zoom call, with Toni Shepherd, Acting Head of Service where he learnt about some of the trials and tribulations the team has had to overcome during 2020, he was pleased to be able to go to their offices in Poole to present some awards for outstanding work during the pandemic.
First award went to Tim Johnson, Senior Probation Officer at Bournemouth Probation Centre who has contributed to the management of both Courts and the Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements. He has continuously operated at a very high level, going above and beyond and always providing a professional and calm presence. His work throughout the time of the pandemic has supported colleagues at every level and contributed hugely to the maintenance of public protection through a very challenging time.
The second award went Debra Burgis, Probation Service Officer based at Weston Approved Premises. Throughout the Covid pandemic, Debs has continued to work with residents to ensure that they receive the highest levels of monitoring and support. During very challenging times she has found innovative ways of working so that residents have still been able to access education and accommodation in order to successfully resettle into the community.
Two other awards were presented in absentia to Caroline Richards, Probations Services Officer, HMP Portland and Jessica Shapland, Probation Officer at Weymouth Probation Centre.
During the pandemic period, Caroline has diligently performed the necessary tasks on her high caseload at a high standard, seen all her offenders without fail and has also volunteered to help with tasks that she is not responsible for on the caseloads of the staff who have been absent. In fact, she has been one of the most positive people we have in the Offender Management Unit and is mentioned by every other member of staff I have spoken to as being a pleasure to work with.
Though everyone has worked really hard during Covid-19, Jess has really stood out as having dealt with so many complex case and continued to put service users at the heart of what she does. There was a case where a service user Jess was managing was refused entry to a hotel and she worked late into the night to ensure this service user was given alternate accommodation that same night to ensure her wellbeing, safety and prevent homelessness.
Finally, it was a great honour for the High Sheriff to present an award to The National Probation Service in Dorset. Speaking to those present he said: “I was so pleased to be able to visit briefly and meet some of the team who act as the lynchpin in the criminal justice system and who are often forgotten by many. It is my privilege to be able to say thank you to you all. Whilst a few have been nominated individually, the entire service should be recognised for the way they have pulled together, worked as a team and performed far in excess of their normal workload.”
Pictured: Tim Johnson, Daniel Seymour, Richard Isherwood-Harris,Toni Shepherd, Debra Burgis and Lorraine Dryer with the High Sheriff seated.
17th December - Blue Light Carol Service
On Thursday 17 December a “Virtual” Blue Light Carol Service was held. Ordinarily at this this time of year the event would be held in St Mary’s Church, Bridport to celebrate the work of the Emergency Services and voluntary sector. That clearly was not going to be possible this year: on-line it had to be. This has enabled everyone to share this wonderful celebration of the work of the emergency services and voluntary services with a far wider audience than normal.
Gary Hepburn of Wyke Regis Church has kindly given up his own time and technical expertise to compile the service with help from the Wyke Regis choir and a number of readers all welcomed at the start by Angus Campbell, Dorset’s Lord Lieutenant.
The Blue Light Carol Service was started 11 years ago in Bridport. It enables all members of the Emergency Services to gather together to join in with carols and hearing the story of the birth of Jesus. Many of the services whose work is celebrated will be on call on Christmas Day and throughout the festive period.
Each year this service has supported the important and ongoing work of the Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance through the collection held. This year is no different but with an on-line collection to ensure that the 'angels' of the Air Ambulance continue their important work.
The finale was a unique rendition of the 12 days of Christmas – featuring Dorset’s Chief Constable and Police and Crime Commissioner as two turtle doves and the Lord Lieutenant and the High Sheriff with his wife in a socially distanced manner singing 3 French Hens.
DORSET HIGH SHERIFF AWARDS PRESENTED AT BRIDPORT’S CHRISTMAS CHEER UP MARKET
The Dorset High Sheriff, George Streatfeild, took the opportunity during the Town’s Christmas ‘Cheer-up’ Market to recognise those who have, and still are, playing a significant role supporting the community during the pandemic by presenting them with prestigious High Sheriff Awards.
Alex and Carl Lewis had no organisational links but stepped up to recruit and manage Bridport’s volunteer ‘army’. They launched the Bridport Coronavirus Community Support Facebook page with the aim of helping vulnerable people in the community.
They were spurred into action by the news that people over 70 would have to self-isolate for up to four months and appreciated that many people do nott have a network of people to support them. They quickly realised that speed was of the essence and that they needed to find out who needed help and who could offer help and get those community links in place for when needed, without.
Dorset High Sheriff, George Streatfeild said: “Without Alex and Carl masterminding the whole operation, things could have turned out very differently. I am therefore hugely delighted to present Alex and Carl Lewis with a High Sheriff’s Award for their selfless dedicated commitment to the community during the lockdown period”
Sophie Mears made around 4,500 meals for vulnerable people between March and June. Her free food parcels were delivered to those who could not leave their homes during the first lockdown period.
She started modestly with soups but when a family of six asked for help she made them a big lasagne and things grew from there. Her ready supply of batch cooking of soups, stews, chilli con carne, lamb hotpot and cottage pie - was made possible through the donations of the ingredients including locally grown vegetables. Organisations and firms volunteered to do deliveries for her, including the Soup Kitchen, the Community Fridge, Jurassic Reclamation, Boilerman and a self-employed worker.
“I am delighted to present Sophie with my High Sheriff Award and also show my appreciation to the support she was given at home by her partner and kids as well as the donators of ingredients and the army of volunteers who delivered the meals when ready” said Dorset High Sheriff.
The Bridport Community Support Network
“I have identified three individuals, who were just amazing during the lockdown, but when we consider just what was achieved in that period, it was a truly fantastic community effort. I can do no better than quote the Lewis’s “when we set up the Facebook pages the response was huge: it just exploded. It just goes to show, in the face of the horrible situation that we were heading into, the sheer number of people who wanted to help.”
In total there were around 170 volunteers delivering, visiting, walking dogs, sorting electric or just providing comfort to the lonely. Help came from all over the Town: furloughed volunteers, existing community groups such as the Chapel in the Garden, businesses of all sorts – not just food businesses - and of course the Bridport Town Council, and particularly Town Clerk Will Austin and Town Surveyor Daryl Chambers. Everyone turned their hands to community support during the lockdown.
I am therefore absolutely delighted to ask the Bridport Mayor, Cllr Ian Bark, to receive my High Sheriff’s Community Award on behalf of all those from the community of Bridport, and its environs that made up the Bridport Community Support Network” Said the High Sheriff.
Carl and Alex Lewis with the High Sheriff.
Mayor of Bridport with High Sheriff receiving High Sheriff Community Award for Bridport Community Support Network
12th December - Presentation to my home town of Bidport
After some delays, Will Austin, Town Clerk to Bridport Town Council arranged for me to present awards to the community at the Bridport Christmas Cheer-up Market on 12th December. As with so many other Christmas Cheer Festivals over the years, the weather was wonderful and standing in Bucky Doo Square, it was a joy to see the crowds, well distanced and masked, around the streets.
The first was to Alex and Carl Lewis, who had no organisational links but managed to recruit a large number of volunteers to create the Bridport Community support Facebook page which has provided support for residents and businesses within the community all year. “Without Alex and Carl masterminding the whole operation, things could have turned out very differently. Their dedicated commitment to the community during lockdown was exemplary”.
I also had a certificate for Sophie Mears, who sadly was not able to attend. Sophie made over 4,500 meals for vulnerable people between March and June. She produced free food parcels which were delivered to those who were unable to leave their homes during the first national lockdown. I hope to be able to present this award to her and her family and to recognise all those who donated and who delivered the meals when ready.
The final award was given to the Bridport Community Support Network which recruited around 170 volunteers and aided the community in a vast amount of ways, from delivering meals, to walking dogs, or just providing comfort to those who were lonely and unable to see other people. I was so pleased to be able to present the High Sheriff’s Community Award to Cllr Ian Bark, Mayor of Bridport, who has, like me, had to adapt his duties this year to fit the pandemic. He has led the officers, in particular Will Austin and Daryl Chambers, through the past few months and the whole team in the Council and the community to achieve great support for the area.
8th December - Out and about in Poole and Bournemouth
I was so glad to be able to visit a few organisations now, following the end of Lockdown 2, and today I called in on Mandy Gulliver in Poole who set up and runs Acts Fast, a support group covering the whole of Dorset. It evolved from providing a volunteer counselling and group support service at ‘From Hurting 2 Healing’. Realising the enormity of the chronic lack of support for non-abusive parents/carers and families after their child’s disclosure of sexual abuse, she felt there was a lack of support for the families within Dorset and at the time only a couple of other charities nationally. The disclosure has been aptly described as akin to a bomb going off; shrapnel indiscriminately cutting into everyone involved, and without specialised support and understanding, the families are left to carry the shrapnel alone.
She works with only two other support workers, Paula and Carrie, and throughout the pandemic they have been able to keep in touch with many of the families affected. Parents will feel even more isolated at the time of disclosure when having to admit that a partner or family member has been abusing their child seems impossible. But the support that Mandy and her team can provide helps to alleviate the blame that they and other members of the family often feel. Over 60% of perpetrators are family members and this makes the crime even more shocking and difficult to deal with. The team is skilled in trauma therapy for all those in the household, and at the moment has 250 families on the books, with 40 or 50 needing regular sessions either face to face or over the phone.
Mandy has been supported by local charity funding, the Police and Crime Commissioner, and some businesses. She has recently applied to the National Lottery, who unlike other funders can see the value in family support rather than just counselling for the affected child. And it was because of this huge dedication, I was privileged to present her with a Hugh Sheriff’s Award.
The citation read “Mandy Gulliver, CEO of Acts Fast Charity continued to almost single-handedly support families during the tough lockdown, many of whom were suicidal. Mandy was relentless in her support for the Mums and families of children that have been sexually abused.”
Mandy Gulliver with the High Sheriff.
Paula Street, Carrie Eyre and Mandy Gulliver
7th December - Salisbury 800
Today Amanda and I were very privileged to be invited to the neighbouring county of Wiltshire as High Sheriff of Dorset, to attend the postponed commemoration of the laying of the first stone of Salisbury Cathedral in 1220. As much of Dorset is part of the Diocese of Salisbury, Dorset’s High Sheriff was permitted to attend in his court dress!
The occasion was suitably marked by the attendance of TRHs the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall. Having been introduced to the royal couple alongside the High Sheriff of Wiltshire, Ashley Truluck and his wife Jenny, and the Lord Lieutenants of both Wiltshire and Dorset, we led the procession through the nave to our very ‘spaced-out’ seats.
Every corner of the cathedral was filled, but with many metres between each seat. The choir (the first in the country to allow girls to become choristers 30 years ago) sang wonderfully and the head stonemason read from St Peter before a homily from the Dean, Nicholas Papadopoulos. He reminded us of the time in the 1600s when the doors were firmly shut against the local population for over a year during the time of another pandemic, the plague, and how now, and of course two years ago during the Novichoc crisis, the community and congregation acted very differently.
Following an address from the Prince of Wales, both he and the Duchess unveiled a carved stone commemorating the 800th anniversary. It was a very moving occasion and the thought of the builders starting out on the Lady Chapel 800 years before, and all those involved over the centuries until this very day, made it a very special occasion.
General Ashley Truluck, High Sheriff of Wiltshire
Words to support presentation of High Sheriff Award to DWFR service
It is customary for the High Sheriff to make awards during his/her year. They are an opportunity to not only recognise exceptional work undertaken in the emergency services and criminal justice system, but also to celebrate the fantastic individuals who do so much to improve the social, cultural and economic fabric of our life.
However, this year, the Coronavirus pandemic has resulted in whole communities and teams being quite exceptional. It would wrong to pick out any one individual when all have performed so far above and beyond anyone’s expectations. We therefore decided to create the High Sheriff’s Community Award to recognise organisations and communities which have simply excelled.
As a farmer in the west of the county, I have always appreciated the speed and efficiency of your responses, especially as your crews are all what I used to call retained firefighters! In fact, your crews from Bridport know the road into the Marshwood Vale embarrassingly well. Because of my position, I banned anyone on the farm from having a fire this year in case it got out of control and I might have to call you – not good for my reputation!
2020 will long be remembered as the ‘corona virus year’. However I suspect that every single one of the 1400 members of your Service will remember it for the Wareham Forest Fire. It began in the forest on May 18th and your crews were on the scene for 13 days in succession and even after that it continued to require constant attention and monitoring. You all will know the statistics, not the least 7 miles of hose you played out and then retracted afterwards, but I wish to acknowledge that the work involved every section of the Service, not just front line fighters either full time or on-call men and women, but also fleet workshop, supplies, media and communication and administration.
For the dedication, commitment and sheer determination to not only put the fire out but save lives, save homes and save wildlife you deserve every credit and recognition. Thank you all for your part in that operation and I am really proud to present the entire Team of Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service with a High Sheriff’s Dorset Community Award for the dedication and professionalism of all staff during the Wareham Fire and the period of the coronavirus pandemic.