Banbury area community group - Hooky Neighbours - gets award from Oxfordshire High Sheriff for service during Covid-19 pandemic

The Oxfordshire High Sheriff presented an award to the Hooky Neighbours group for their service to the community during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Thursday, 8th April 2021, 9:34 pm
Updated Thursday, 8th April 2021, 9:36 pm
Mrs Amanda Ponsonby, High Sheriff of Oxfordshire, presented the award to volunteers with the Hooky Neighbours community support group. - Pictured: High Sheriff Amanda Ponsonby (on her last day) volunteer, Michelle Dix, Janeen Wilson, chair of Hook Norton Parish Council, Keith Abbott and James Clarke, the managing director of Hook Norton Brewery.

Banbury area community group - Hooky Neighbours - gets award from Oxfordshire High Sheriff for service during Covid-19 pandemic

Mrs Amanda Ponsonby, High Sheriff of Oxfordshire, presented the award to volunteers with the Hooky Neighbours group outside the Hook Norton Brewery in Hook Norton on Wednesday April 7, her last full day in office.

Mrs Ponsonby said: "All my awards this year have been to groups. Teamwork has been crucial.

Mrs Amanda Ponsonby, High Sheriff of Oxfordshire, presented the award to Michelle Dix, a volunteer with the Hooky Neighbours group on Wednesday April 7, her last full day in office.

"I think what you have achieved here in Hook Norton went above some of the other groups. You have been imaginative and thought of so many ways to make people's lives better."

Mrs Ponsonby presented the award to Michelle Dix, a lead volunteer with the Hooky Neighbours group.

Michelle said: "I thank you for this. It's a big thing for us in the village. We want to be able to help anybody who asks for help. I think Hooky Neighbours has proved it. It's just to help people get back over that hump, and back on their feet.

"Hooky Neighbours, we want to be under radar so we can do the best thing for people who need help."

Paul Cann, another lead volunteer with Hooky Neighbours group, said: "I think Hooky is a big hearted village."

Mrs Ponsonby added: "It's the parish council coming together with a group of volunteers and local business."

Janeen Wilson, the chair of the Hook Norton Parish Council, and James Clarke, the managing director of Hook Norton Brewery, also attended the award presentation by the high sheriff.

The Hooky Neighbours group was set up three years ago as a Good Neighbour Scheme (GNS).

Mr Cann said: "We operate in effect as a Hook Norton charity serving people both in the village and surrounding places eg Wigginton.

"We run our work via a What's App group giving us the ability to issue immediate alerts of a job and ability for people to respond (usually responses confirming support happen within minutes). At any one time we have some 30-40 names on this group.

"Our bread and butter jobs are shopping, lifts to surgeries and hospital appointments (lots of jabs of course) and general wellbeing checks.

"There are two unusual things about this GNS. First of all the partnership with young people, particularly at Chipping Norton School (11-18) and Hook Norton primary school. Again and again these young people have been amazing: kind, respectful, inventive and energetic in helping their community.

"The second unusual feature of what we do is the many things we do as well as the bread and butter. This is where the young people have stepped up so magnificently. So in the past year we have arranged mass coverage across the village of: Easter eggs (2020), 100 plus afternoon teas for VE Day, plant pots decorated by primary school pupils, organised a Scarecrow Hunt weekend, Christmas goodies made by primary school pupils, Christmas dinners we provided and collected from pub, Christmas presents and food hampers for families struggling to afford Christmas, a pen friend scheme, food vouchers for a few families struggling during lockdown, Valentine's cards designed by a young student (now available as a simple greetings card from Hook Norton at a very reasonable rate) and Easter Egg Box gardens (2021) for both school children and oldies.

"Over the last couple of years we’ve created good links with the doctors, the NHS, Dementia Oxfordshire and local carers, and the local community.

"Our future plans include: a weekly shopping minibus (Chipping Norton and Banbury), launching in the spring.

"An ipad-with help scheme to help older members of the community access the internet.

"In all of this we are so grateful to the parish council, local businesses, other agencies and villagers themselves for their generous support."