No politics this week. Instead, I wanted to write about the official recognition that organisations supporting our local community have received. We had already seen Andy Baker of Play2Give recognised with an MBE at the start of the year. In recent weeks, several other individuals and organisations have been given awards too.
Anna Richards in West Challow has just received a Points of Light Award. This is something the Prime Minister awards every day to an individual who makes change in their community. Anna set up the social enterprise, Maymessy, which runs wellness activities and cookery classes for young carers and young people from marginalised backgrounds. I met Anna quite soon after I became an MP and she rightly says that while people think of Oxfordshire as a very affluent area, we still have young people and families in very difficult circumstances and they are often ‘hidden’. She set up Maymessy to support them and she has been doing great work that they very much value.
Last year Maymessy finished 3rd in my Volunteers Week hero competition; first was an organisation that is probably more familiar to more people: the Ray Collins Charitable Trust. When something is going on to support the community in the Wantage area, the chances are Ray Collins is involved in it. I saw first-hand the great work they do when I volunteered to take calls from the vulnerable seeking support during Covid and to aid the vaccination effort that they were supporting so well at Mably Way. In just the last 15 months they raised £135,000 to support the community. I was therefore delighted that they received a Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award they could as an organisation.
Even better, both Farcycles in Faringdon and Team Mikayla in Childrey have received the same award too. Farcycles is the much-loved organisation that has created a strong community of cyclists and supported children to learn to ride a bike with their innovative cycle park, a park design I would like to see in more locations in Oxfordshire.
Herald readers will be familiar with 14-year old Mikayla Beames’ fight against cancer the past decade – her Team Mikayla charity has now granted over 150 wishes to children fighting cancer, as well as distributing over 1000 Christmas presents and 1000 Easter Eggs. A few week ago I became the charity’s first patron, so forgive the plug: on the 17th July they are teaming up with Maymessy for a fundraising event you can buy tickets for from this week. Please do.
The year therefore hasn’t entirely been doom and gloom – we have local heroes who inspire others and now getting the recognition they deserve. Congratulations to them all.