We Can Do It Awards: Devoted Emsworth husband is recognised for personal achievements after raising £100,000 in wife's memory

UNBELIEVABLE amounts of strength and determination have helped one man to achieve his dream of raising £100,000 in his wife’s memory.

Thursday, 15th April 2021, 5:42 pm
George Turner with his daughter Harriet 6 at Emsworth Park play area on 6 January 2020 Picture: Habibur Rahman

After suddenly losing his beloved wife Verity in 2018, George ‘Topsy’ Turner has overcome all odds to help her legacy live on in a place she loved.

Emsworth fitness trainer Topsy has been given two awards in this year’s We Can Do It awards run by The News, for his outstanding achievements since he set up charity Verity’s Gift in his wife’s memory.

The awards are usually held in person, but as this has not been possible in the last 12 months The News formed a shortlist of worthy nominees and then chose winners in each category.

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George Turner and his late wife, Verity

Winning both the Personal Achievement award and being crowned Melvin Louch Overall Winner, Topsy’s journey has touched the hearts and minds of many.

Topsy said: ‘These two awards have come as a genuine and wonderful surprise. When Verity’s Gift was formed a little over a year ago we never imagined we would make so much progress. The new Emsworth Play Park will be built in the weeks ahead and completed in July. When I reflect on these special awards I think they also belong to all those who have been generous in their support for Verity’s Gift, everyone who has run, cycled, climbed, put collection buckets in their business, sold raffle tickets or just cheered us on. The whole community.’

A mammoth fundraising effort, which thrived despite the pandemic, led to £100,000 being raised to make major improvements to the play area in Emsworth Park where Verity spent time with their six-year-old daughter Harriet.

Mountains were conquered in a gruelling Three Peaks Challenge, and supporters across the area took to their bikes and laced up their running shoes to help support Topsy’s aim.

He added: ‘It gives me the drive to do more for children and young people and make Verity’s Gift a sustainable community charity we can all be proud of.’

Topsy was blown away to achieve both of these awards, and was chosen by the family of Melvin Louch as the overall winner this year.

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Much-loved volunteer Melvin Louch was nominated for the Service with a Smile award at the 2019 We Can Do It awards, but sadly died in July 2019.

Melvin - known by his friends as Bob - spent every day at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham after being saved by staff, carrying flowers to hand out to people who needed a boost.

The prize for the winner of the evening has since been known as the Melvin Louch Overall Winner award, and Melvin’s family helped to choose Mr Turner as this year’s stand-out winner.

Melvin’s wife Violet, and daughters Rachel, Michelle and Maria all agreed that George’s story touched heart strings and flooded back memories of Melvin in how it represented the family man that he was and how he gave to the community.

A statement from the family said: ‘Suffering loss and filling the hole that a loved one leaves behind with such wonderful giving to the community from such exceptional effort filled our hearts with love for George Turner from Verity’s Gift.

‘For over a year now we have all suffered the loss of enjoyment of children playing freely in communal areas like Emsworth Park, this is a joy that we can all now look forward to in every part of society.

‘The raising of £100,000 is an incredible tribute to a dearly lost wife and mother, and we hope that George will use this award as further inspiration.

‘His achievements for the community embodies the sentiment that the Queen said back in April 2020, “We will meet again”. Congratulations to George and our love to Harriet.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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