Magnificent seven receive Fareham Citizen of Honour awards

The Mayor of Fareham Cllr Michael Ford with the Citizens of Honour L-R, Dee Batu, Tiffany Desmond, Charlie Wilson, Tony Brown, Mayor of Fareham, Cllr Michael Ford, Vic Rutland , Sharon Noble and Harry Smith
The Mayor of Fareham Cllr Michael Ford with the Citizens of Honour L-R, Dee Batu, Tiffany Desmond, Charlie Wilson, Tony Brown, Mayor of Fareham, Cllr Michael Ford, Vic Rutland , Sharon Noble and Harry Smith
Portsmouth Civic Offices

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Meet the seven local heroes who have been honoured for their outstanding dedication and community spirit.

Fareham Borough Council has given its prestigious Citizen of Honour Award to these kindhearted youngsters and adults, showing its appreciation for everything they do and give to the community.

The awards began 16 years ago and were set up to ensure that hard work, dedication, selflessness and generosity didn’t go unnoticed.

Council leader Sean Woodward, said: ‘The awards are a celebration of Fareham’s unsung heroes – those who have made a real difference to the community.

‘All of these people do what they do for no reward, often with a great personal cost for themselves. It is something appropriate for us to recognise.’

After dozens of applications, seven residents – aged from 11 up to 89 – were honoured for their community spirit.

There were three categories which residents could be nominated for, including the Young Citizen of the Year, aged four to 11, recognising outstanding bravery, Young Citizen of the Year, aged 12 to 17 for unpaid/voluntary work, and the Citizen of Honour, is awarded to adults who have shown dedication to the community over a long period of time.

The seven deserving citizens collected their awards at Fareham’s mayor-making event.

The winners will attend a reception with the mayor and they have won a family ticket for the pantomime at Ferneham Hall.

Vic Rutland received his award for volunteering at the Fareham Lions for an impressive 44 years.

He was nominated by the Lions president David Sanders.

Since joining the Lions in 1971, Vic has worked tirelessly to help his community. He has helped arrange and taken part in various events, such as fetes, fayres and activities.

Vic, from Hill Head, has also helped raise thousands of pounds for charity. The 89-year-old had no idea he had been nominated for the award.

He said: ‘It came as a big surprise, I didn’t know anything about it, but it feels very good. I am really pleased.’

As well as raising money for charity, Vic and the Fareham Lions also help out those in the community whenever they can.

Vic said: ‘We provide the most help we can for people that need it.’

Vic and the Lions recently began the Message in a Bottle campaign, where vulnerable people keep their medical details on a bottle near the fridge, so in an accident their details can be easily seen.

Vic is also to become the first ‘retired member’ in Fareham Lions, a prestigious title only awarded to senior members who have shown outstanding commitment.

Dee Batu has been a dedicated volunteer at charity Open Sight for around 25 years.

The 70-year-old was nominated by one of her long-term colleagues at the charity for her many years spent helping those that are blind and visually impaired.

As well as working with Open Sight, Dee helps out at the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.

She was also the chairwoman, and is now the editor of Fareport Talking news, a newspaper for those who have problems with their sight.

Dee is currently training and is going to become a technician for the company too.

The dedicated charity worker helps those in the community who struggle with their sight whenever she can, and with whatever is needed.

Dee said she really enjoys what she does and she has vowed to carry on volunteering for as long as she can.

Dee, from Ranvilles Lane, Fareham, said: ‘I probably get more out of it than the people who I’m volunteering for.’

On accepting the award at the ceremony, she said: ‘I was really nervous about receiving it at first but now I’m really happy. It’s a lovely thing to have.’

Tiffany Desmond bravely took part in a 15,000m skydive in memory of her uncle, who was killed in a road traffic collision.

Tiffany also tragically lost two other family members in a further two road traffic accidents, so she decided to raise money for road safety charity Brake.

Tiffany, who hates heights, bravely dived from 15,000 metres.

She said: ‘It’s the scariest thing I’ve ever done, but I feel really proud and like all three of them were watching down on me.’

Tiffany, from Fareham, was nominated for the award by her family, including nan Wendy.

She jumped on June 20, the birthday of her uncle Shane Jeffries, who died in July 2013 aged 25.

Some of Tiffany’s family members took part in the skydive too, however Tiffany was the youngest involved.

This was her first fundraising event, however she managed to raise an impressive £2,000.

Tiffany, a former Cams Hill School and South Downs College pupil, now works at a hairdressers in Fareham.

The 17-year-old plans to do another event next year and raise even more money for charity.

Charlie Wilson was nominated for the award by staff at Y Services, where she is a voluntary youth worker.

The 16-year-old helps run activities for children aged up to 13, based on different things such as friendship or learning.

She also helps out at chill-out evenings every Monday.

Charlie joined Y Services three years ago and she has now been volunteering there for two years.

She said she loves and enjoys volunteering, and said: ‘It’s nice to be a part of something. It’s a great feeling when you know you’ve helped someone or contributed to something that will benefit more than one person.’

Charlie also helps out with advertising Y Services. Last month she represented the charity at a conference and explained everything it does for the community.

Charlie had no idea she was nominated for the award, she said: ‘I was shocked when I got the call to tell me I had won, I was emotional and happy all at the same time.’

Charlie is in her last year at Portchester Community School and has a Saturday job at a school. Despite this, and along with her volunteering, she still finds time to participate in community events.

Harry Smith, aged 11, was the youngest to receive the Citizen of Honour award this year.

He was nominated for his dedicated fundraising for The Rainbow Centre, a support centre for children with cerebral palsy.

The charity is very close to Harry’s heart, as Harry’s younger twin brothers Zach and Reuben both from cerebral palsy, and one attended the centre for four years.

Harry is very supportive of the centre and enjoys volunteering there. Despite his young age, he has already taken part in many fundraising challenges for the centre.

Last summer he abseiled down the Fareham fire station drill tower along with 139 other children and raised more than £1,300.

He also encourages his friends and others to join him in supporting the Rainbow Centre.

Harry, from Whiteley, said: ‘My friends bring in jamjars full of pennies in support for the centre, it’s brilliant.’

He also gets his school, Whiteley Primary School, involved and has signed up to be a peer supporter there too.

He said was ‘gobsmacked’ but happy to receive the honour, and thanked those who nominated him.

Sharon Noble was nominated for her award by Anne Adams, a community support officer, who she met through her work at Asda.

Sharon, aged 49, is a community life champion at the Fareham supermarket.

Her role involves her supporting the community, and helping out in schools and lunch clubs. Sharon, from Stubbington, goes that extra mile and helps those in need after work in her spare time.

She said: ‘Sometimes I meet people through my work but then go on to help them in my spare time. I do little things such as going food shopping for people.’

In 2008, Sharon was diagnosed with breast cancer.

After discovering a lump, she underwent a lumpectomy and chemotherapy.

She has now been clear of cancer for over six years, and shows much dedication to taking part in fundraising events to raise money for charity.

This summer she is doing a sponsored zipwire that travels up to 100mph, and is also swimming across the Solent from the Isle of Wight to Stokes Bay.

She said: ‘I feel really honoured to be nominated let alone to have won it’.

Tony Brown received his award for outstanding services to cricket in Fareham.

He has worked with the Fareham and Crofton Cricket Club in Bath Lane, for 53 years, including 20 years as groundsman, and is now a senior administrator with the Hampshire Cricket League as vice-chairman.

He is a familiar face at the club and has given years of voluntary service to the community.

He celebrated his 80th birthday last August at the ground, where a big party was held to mark the occasion.

The dedicated cricket stalwart prior to his cricket career, spent 30 years in Royal Navy on 17 ships, where he played cricket all over the world include the Far East and the Mediterranean.

He was also well-known for running the bar at the mess at HMS Dryad.

Tony, from Fareham, was delighted to accept the accolade. He said: ‘It feels great, it’s nice to be appreciated. It was a nice thank you.’

He joined Fareham Cricket Club in the 1960s as an off-spin all-rounder, before he retired in 1986. He has had many roles at the club, including captain of the second team and chairman.