Cllr Gordon Ross took the opportunity to recognise the unsung heroes behind two of Banbury’s charities in his last act as the town’s mayor.
During the mayoral inauguration last week, Cllr Ross presented three Mayor Awards to Banbury volunteers.
Singled out for her decades-long service to Banbury Samaritans was Angey Yallop.
Mrs Yallop, who lives in Brackley, has been a volunteer at the Albert Street charity for the past 30 years, lending her hand to every aspect of the charity’s services.
Mrs Yallop said: “I didn’t know anything about it, it was a plot the committee put together.
“The first I heard was the director phoned me and said you have to be free on May 9 because you’re in the final three for volunteer of the year.”
Given the nature of the services the Samaritans offer, complete anonymity is provided to anyone accessing them whether by phone, email or SMS messaging so individual cases are never discussed but Mr’s Yallop’s overall experience she has amassed over her three decades has been positive.
She said: “As soon as I joined I was absolutely hooked at being there for people with nobody else there for them.”
Recognition was also afforded to those just beginning their volunteer commitments.
Connor Southwood, 25, has been volunteering at Banbury Young Homelessness Project (BYHP) for the past two years and he received the Young Volunteer Award from the mayor.
Mr Southwood said: “I was in between jobs and had some free time and wanted to put my availability to use and I came across BYHP.
“I didn’t know much about them before getting involved but once I saw what they were doing and the impact they had on people’s lives I never looked back.”
Mr Southwood threw himself into all aspects of BYHP’s work and as a result found he had a passion and skill for IT, a field he now works in at the Warriner School. Mr Southwood said: “I do enjoy IT for IT’s sake but actually it’s doing it in the school and being able to work with young people is a big part of it for me and that is something I have gained from my time with BYHP.”
And BYHP itself also received the Mayor’s recognition, being named as the Community Organisation of the Year.
Tim Tarby-Donald, CEO of the charity, said: “It’s a good recognition of the work the team does. For me it really is a recognition of all the organisations and individuals that are helping us because there are lots and lots of folks that are supporting us.
“Lots of new volunteers, lots of local companies supporting us and a lot of other community organisations working with us.”