Four current and former residents of Earley have been honoured for their service to the town at an annual awards ceremony.

The awards celebrated five volunteers who have been active in the local community.

The first was granted to  Charlotte Allchin, who was meant to receive her award last year but couldn’t due to coronavirus restrictions.

She was recognised for her dedication to raising the profile of environmental and climate change issues, and work running support groups for the elderly and young children.

Four further awards were granted to other community champions who had been nominated by their peers.

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Usually one person receives the award each year, but exception was made on this occasion.

Councillor Anne Bassett (Liberal Democrats, Redhatch) explained: “We came to the conclusion they were all four equally deserving of the award.”

The first  Service to Earley Award for the past year was granted to Mary Bather, who has revitalised the Association of Central Earley Residents (ACER), and helped to organise walks for residents which can be found on the town council website.

Reading Chronicle: Mary Bather who was honoured with a Service to Earley award for revitalising the Association of Central Earley Residents (ACER), with Town Mayor Cllr Anne Bassett. Credit: James Aldridge, Local Democracy Reporting ServiceMary Bather who was honoured with a Service to Earley award for revitalising the Association of Central Earley Residents (ACER), with Town Mayor Cllr Anne Bassett. Credit: James Aldridge, Local Democracy Reporting Service

Mary said: “Thanks to all the ACER community, I could not have done it on my own, and I couldn’t have done it without my rambler colleagues, I organised it, but they did all the legwork. ”

Julie Dennis was given an award for her volunteering in a leading Girl Guides for over 20 years.

She has been the main Guider for 2nd Earley Rainbows and a leader at 2nd Earley Brownies, as well as serving for a decade as the District Commissioner for Earley.

Reading Chronicle: Julie Dennis, who was honoured with a Service to Earley Award for her contributions to the 2nd Earley Rainbows and Brownies, with Town Mayor Cllr Anne Bassett. Credit: James Aldridge, Local Democracy Reporting ServiceJulie Dennis, who was honoured with a Service to Earley Award for her contributions to the 2nd Earley Rainbows and Brownies, with Town Mayor Cllr Anne Bassett. Credit: James Aldridge, Local Democracy Reporting Service

Julie said: “It means a lot to me and I think it means a lot to Girl Guiding as well because it does mean that we are recognised as doing a good job for the girls in Earley.

“We’ve managed to keep the majority of our girls involved in things and I think parents appreciated that, and it’s so nice to be back to meeting in person.”

Jim Willis was honoured for his involvement in the Earley Neighbourhood Action Group, which recently involved securing tree preservation orders for every tree in Cutbush Lane.

Mr Willis said: “They’re now preserved, forever, for everybody to enjoy.”

Reading Chronicle: Jim Willis, honoured as the long serving chairman of the Earley Neighbourhood Action Group with Town Mayor Cllr Annette Bassett. Credit: James Aldridge, Local Democracy Reporting ServiceJim Willis, honoured as the long serving chairman of the Earley Neighbourhood Action Group with Town Mayor Cllr Annette Bassett. Credit: James Aldridge, Local Democracy Reporting Service

Mr Willis also served as a special police constable for 18 months.

He has lived in the area for 47 years, but has recently left for East Devon.

He said: “I’ve spent almost all my life in Earley, I lived on a farm down in Cutbush Lane with my very first girlfriend, so I go back a long way with this area.

“I do love it and it’s why I feel so passionate about this area.

“If anyone asked me ‘why do you do it?’ it was because I cared.

“I’m really sad that we’ve moved away, but that’s the rest of my life.”

Adding: “I shall never forget Earley, because it’s in my DNA.”

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Annette Russell was also awarded for over 23 years of volunteering for the 1st Earley St Peter’s Brownies, helping to inspire over 150 girls and women during her tenure.

The ceremony took place at the Radstock Lane Community Centre last Saturday (March 19).