TEN outstanding servants of the community were rewarded with Services to Farnham awards at the Farnham Town Council chamber on Monday, May 17.

The awards are run by Farnham Town Council, inspired and supported by Herald proprietor Sir Ray Tindle, and were presented by the-then mayor of Farnham Pat Evans and Herald general manager Eddie Pearce.

Pat Evans, mayor of Farnham 2019/20 and 2020/21, said: “I never cease to be amazed by the depth and quality and achievements of the huge number of Farnham’s voluntary organisations and volunteers who represent a spirit of helpfulness, cheerfulness and dedication for our community.

“My thanks and congratulations go to all of them and particularly to the Services of Farnham Award recipients who have demonstrated a high level of commitment and achievement.”

The 2021 recipients were:

Rev David Ashby

David Ashby was the much-loved local Methodist minister in Rowledge for many years, fulfilling his duties to his congregation in exemplary fashion. In addition, he has run a monthly lunch club for the elderly, provided a valuable service visiting people in hospital, and been a key member of Care Farnham for many years. As chairman, his ebullient and cheerful character has helped enthuse the volunteer drivers who take people to medical appointments.

David selflessly never turns down an opportunity to help anyone, and his kindly wise counsel and ready wit are much appreciated. Through his commitment to Care Farnham, Rowledge and the wider community, David has enhanced the lives of so many and deserves recognition for his services to Farnham.

John Birch

John Birch had a very distinguished professional career in sport and leisure and has given energetic and equally distinguished service to voluntary work, both in and beyond Farnham.

As a founder of the Wrecclesham History Project, John has been meticulous in his research and co-ordination and overseen the publication of 35 briefing notes and an illustrated historical map of Wrecclesham, creating an important and lasting record for Farnham.

Beyond his local history involvement, John has been a huge supporter of the local sports scene as a former chairman of Rowledge Cricket Club and supporter of Farnham Sports Council. Without doubt, John’s tireless work and leadership has left a strong community legacy. 

Tony Burke

Tony Burke has been a longstanding member of the Farnham Lions and has headed most of the their committees as well as serving as president. He is a trustee of the Farnham Lions charity and has been the prime mover in continuing the Lions Club Wenceslas Project, supporting those in fuel poverty. Tony also managed the Lions winter food parcels collection, collecting and distributing food to those who in need.

In addition, Tony has been a supporter of Homestart and, despite his own ill health, has been an active volunteer at the Farnham vaccination programme.

Tony has made a valuable contribution to the Farnham community and those in most need.

David Coker

David Coker, whose award was collected on his behalf by his sister, has been an instrumental player in the Farnham Crime Prevention Panel in Farnham and has been chairman for over a decade.

As well as co-ordinating with the police and the different groups in Farnham, David has been a regular attendee at events to raise awareness and encourage individual families to protect their homes and possessions from crime. Under David’s leadership, the Crime Prevention Panel has made a valuable contribution to community safety.

Among his other interests, David has been an active member of Farnham Rotary Club, serving as its youth committee chairman and also club chairman in 2019-20.

His contribution to Farnham is very much appreciated.

Sarah Coker

Sarah Coker has been a leading volunteer in the award-winning Victoria Garden for many years. As chair of the Friends of the Victoria Garden, she helped plan the planting in the garden and manage the rota of volunteers who maintain it.

In addition, Sarah helps organise the fundraising events to support the planting and maintenance costs. In 2016, she became a trustee of the Farnham Swimming Baths Trust, representing the Friends.

Sarah has been instrumental in helping the Victoria Garden achieve many ‘gold’ and ‘outstanding’ awards in the South and South East in Bloom competitions and this award recognises the part she has played.

Christopher Ellis

Christopher Ellis has been a significant contributor to the community in Wrecclesham for many years. As church warden in St Peter’s, he was a key fundraiser for improvements both to the church and Leverton Hall.

As a trustee of the Isabella Schroder Foundation, he worked with the other trustees to support the most disadvantaged in the community.

Christopher was on the committee of the Wrecclesham Community Centre from its creation and was chairman from 2014 until 2021.

He worked hard to create improved opportunities for young people and was key in liaising with Farnham Town Council on behalf of the trust in improvements to the Centre. Christopher much deserves this award for his key contribution to the Wrecclesham community.

Peter Glover MBE

Peter Glover has made an outstanding contribution in promoting community CPR and defibrillation in Farnham. His commitment and enthusiasm, alongside his assistance and guidance in founding the Heartstart Farnham Lions Scheme in 2012, has been instrumental to its success. Peter was a Heartstart trainer and also the voluntary clinical director on top of his work as a long-serving ambulance technician.

Heartstart Farnham has now trained more than 1,000 people in emergency life support. Peter is passionate about adults and young people being empowered to learn how to save a life.

Peter is modest about his contribution and shows great compassion but deserves recognition for his contribution to the well-being of Farnham.

Michael Maher

Michael Maher served on the board of trustees at Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice Care for nine years, and as chairman for three.

During that time, it doubled its turnover and the number of patients supported, benefiting from Michael’s business experience and expertise. Under his leadership the charity took over the NHS Beacon service, increasing the care provided away from the hospice building.

Michael also served as the publicly-elected governor of the Frimley Health Foundation Trust for six years and was an active member of the Farnham Weyside Rotary and his local church.

With a generous nature and boundless energy, Michael is continuing to support the local community as chair of the Farnham Maltings and is a real community champion worthy of this award.

Rebecca Skeels

Rebecca Skeels was key to Farnham becoming a World Craft Town through her unstinting hard work and her inclusive, encouraging approach working alongside the contributing partners. As a craft lecturer at UCA she was keen to celebrate Farnham’s rich visual creativity. As a volunteer she co-ordinated, over several years, the Craft Month programme and participants. Rebecca completed applications for funding that broadened the programme and provided key evaluation data that underpinned the World Craft Town submission.

Rebecca’s participative good nature, engendered goodwill and positivity with the outcome being greater than the sum of the parts. Rebecca has made a significant contribution that is worthy of the Services to Farnham Award.

David Wylde

David Wylde has been a passionate champion for Farnham over many years supporting the arts, culture and built environment. Having run the speaking course for U3A Farnham and been the assistant director at The Castle Theatre, he has been active in many walks of Farnham life. Articulate and committed, David has never shied from challenging institutions and public bodies whose approach did not seem to be serving Farnham well or where there was room for improvement. He has demonstrated his strong commitment to achieving a positive future of Farnham and has been an active community supporter of the Farnham Neighbourhood Plan.

David is recognised as a true citizen of Farnham who invests time and effort into ensuring the town remains vibrant and retains its attractive characteristics.