Published: 05:00, 08 November 2021
Retired postman Phil Crowder, who chairs the Sheerness Town Team, has been voted volunteer of the year in the Tesco Pride of the Island awards.
He topped the poll for his environmental campaigning and beach litter-picks.
Phil, 61, from Galway Road, Sheerness, on Sheppey said: “It was a great honour to be nominated for this award and fantastic to find I had made the final three. Winning it was the icing on the cake.”
The Sheppey FM radio presenter added: “Many thanks to all those who voted for me and congratulations to all nominees across all of the 10 categories. Sheppey is blessed to have so many people giving up their time to make our Island a better place to live. I salute them all.”
The contest was put together by Kay Speed, the manager of the Sheerness store, and her team. She said: "The inspiration was Tim Bell who raises funds for the Kent Air Ambulance and joins us at the store across the year regardless of the weather. The past 18 months have been incredibly hard for our community. Yet we have met more people like Tim who have worked really hard to make a difference.
"We wanted to celebrate those people in a way which involved the whole Island. The response was amazing. Sheppey is one of the most deprived areas in Kent yet has a heart of gold.
"We have had the pleasure of meeting and working with some really inspirational carers, fundraisers and local heroes who are using their own time and talent to make the Island a nicer place. It made us want to spotlight their amazing causes to a wider audience. We thank everyone for their feedback. It has been a lot of hard work but it was so worth it."
A committee picked the finalists but the ultimate winners were chosen by a public vote.
The committee comprised store manager Kay Speed; store community champion Kay Boswell; Abigail Cockett (liaison support); Swale mayor Cllr Paul Stephen; Sgt Ryan Chase of the Swale community safety police unit; Garry Ratcliffe of Curly's farm.
Dolley White (Sheerness and Minster council councillor and school governor for Oasis Academy, West Minster and Rose Street schools and Dawn Cockburn of the Harmony Therapy Trust and the moderator of the Positive Life Today on the Isle of Sheppey Facebook group.
There will be a presentation ceremony at Layzells, Minster, on Thursday evening (November 11). Kay said: "The date, 11/11, was chosen as it is the proudest date of the year when, as a country, we celebrate those who made made the ultimate sacrifice to help others."
The full list of winners is:
Child of the year: Lexie Braham and Alfie Mathis
Fundraiser of the year (under-18): Joshua Jarvis and Harvey Sevante
Spirit of youth: Leo Jacob
Community heroes: Kyle and Garry Ratcliffe who founded Curly’s Farm. They have four children and were featured on the BBC TV show DIY SOS
Health service award: Pharmacist Manu Mistry
Volunteer of the year: Phil Crowder
Lifetime achievement: Lorraine March and Twiggy Hawes of Kent Wildlife Rescue Services in Sheerness
Emergency services award: Coxswain Robin Castle, who has recently retired from the RNLI Sheerness and been made a Freeman of the borough of Swale
Fundraiser of the year (over-18s): Molly Hope
The committee’s choice award: Aaron Scanlan