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Issue 344 – Vote for your Person of the Year!

The nominees for Frome Times’ Person of the Year 2011 competition have been compiled, and now Frome Times readers are being asked to cast their vote on who they think should be crowned the winner.

In our last issue, Frome Times asked readers to nominate their ‘person of the year’ – somebody in the town who deserves recognition for their outstanding actions over the past year or who has had the biggest impact on life in the town. The nominees are as follows:

Gillian Baker
Gillian became the organiser of the Mells Barn Social Club for the Blind and Partially Sighted in 1984 and has continued to run it ever since. The club draws its members from a large catchment area including Frome, Shepton Mallet, and surrounding Mendip villages. The group meets eight times a year, with food and entertainment, giving those who may not have many opportunities to socialise a chance to do so.
Although the club’s future was thrown into doubt after their funding from Somerset Sight was withdrawn, the community rallied round and the club now has sufficient funds to continue this year.
Gillian emphasises it is a team effort that keeps the club running. “You see these things in the media but don’t imagine they’ll come to you!” she said. “It’s a team I work with, and they are just as keen as I am and we all enjoy the friendship – they are all wonderful.
“The club is very much needed. The integration for our members is the most important thing of all.”
Her nominator said, “She has run a thriving club and I feel this deserves to be recognised.”

Anna Brindle
Anna started the Frome-based group, Active and in Touch, to provide a stepping stone out of social isolation for the home-bound of whatever age. It is made up of a group of volunteers available to visit, talk with and gently support requesting individuals to get them involved with groups or activities in their area.
She is also a trustee of HOPE Frome, a combined churches initiative which is involved in various community activities such as running a late night coffee van in the town centre and stewarding at Frome Carnival.
Her nominator said, “For many years Anna has been organising and leading community support initiatives in Frome. Until July 2009, together with her husband Keith, she led Holy Trinity Church youth and children’s group, which outreached to a large number of youngsters, many of whom had nothing to do with the church.
“Without Anna’s personal involvement and drive, much of the above would not have had the impact it has had. I firmly believe Anna deserves recognition for all she has given to the wellbeing of the community of Frome and district.”
Anna said of her nomination, “I’m honoured! I’ve been involved in a few volunteer projects over the years, but HOPE Frome is the latest venture and the late night coffee van seems to be taking off well!”

Veryan Conn
Veryan has run Frome Breastfeeding Group for over 20 years, advising and delivering important information for new parents. She was trained as a La Leche League leader in 1988 and has since volunteered her time to those who need her expertise. Veryan makes personal house calls which complements services available under the NHS.
Her nominator said, “I’m nominating Veryan Conn for Frome’s person of the year because of the amazing support she has given to breastfeeding mothers.
“Veryan has been helping women to succeed at breastfeeding for 20 years as our local La Leche League leader. She runs a support group once a week which is open to all breastfeeding mothers and mothers-to-be.
“As well as running the group, Veryan is always available to make house visits to mothers who are finding breastfeeding difficult, which it usually is in the beginning.
“It seems that almost every mother I meet in Frome has at one point or another received Veryan’s support in either breastfeeding or other parenting dilemmas.
“Veryan should be recognised as one of the people who make Frome such an amazing place to live. I know I speak for others when I say that Veryan’s advice and support is highly valued and will continue to be for years to come.”
Veryan commented, “The service is valuable and I really enjoy doing it. It’s great to hear feedback from people about the sessions. Sometimes new mothers may think they are doing something wrong and it’s great for them to get together and swap stories. There’s definitely a social aspect to the group.”

Gavin Eddy
Gavin is the founder of Frome’s Artisan Market and Managing Director of Forward Space.
He created the Artisan Market three years ago and re-invests the profit into the economic development of Frome.
As an ex-investment banker with a commercial background, Gavin offers advice to start-up businesses and his company, Forward Space, provides budding entrepreneurs the chance to network and share ideas out of the Old Church School on Butts Hill. Furthermore, he works with nonprofit organisations to help their business model become self-sufficient without the need for external funding.
His nominator said, “He set up the Artisan market, a not-for-profit organisation, which brings many tourists to the town and has put Frome on the map for its creativity. The organisation also gives money to local charities and projects which enrich the town.
“He also gives up a lot of his own time to advise small business owners or people thinking of starting up a business in Frome; giving guidance and knowledge freely – without expecting anything in return. He is passionate about Frome, the small independent businesses and people who reside in the town.
“He is a great believer in people and what they can achieve with a bit of confidence and self-belief. His guidance alone has helped so many charities and small businesses in the town progress and reach their full potential.”
Gavin said, “It’s a great honour to be nominated, thank you to the person who did so. With Forward Space it’s great to see so many inspirational entrepreneurs in one place.”

Jo Fordham
Jo has worked at Frome Leisure Centre for the past seven years. She runs classes such as the healthy back class, which helps people recover following injuries or surgery to the back. She also runs water mobility and cardiac rehab class.
Jo’s nominee said, “So many benefit from these classes and to Jo it is more than just a job. She personally helps and supports the people that come to her classes so much, over and above her normal duties.
“I have been going to healthy back class for over four years and since April 2011 to water mobility class too. In September I had spinal surgery and Jo has been a tremendous help to me in my recovery.
“She is a keen and active member of Frome Running Club and strongly supports ‘Positive Action for Cancer’. I think Jo is a great role model to young and old.”
On being made aware of her nomination Jo said, “I’m shocked and very humbled. It’s something that I really enjoy doing and the people who attend the classes make the job that much easier. I’m flattered.”

Peter Smith
Peter has been involved in a variety of organisations since moving to the town in 1965.
As a member of Frome Rotary Club he set up the Rotary’s mock interviews at Frome College, which gives 15-year-old students their first experience of being interviewed, proving valuable preparation for further education or employment.
Peter was also chair of Frome Victoria Hospital’s Centenary Appeal, which raised in the region of £700,000, and his efforts in this capacity was recognised by a civic award from Frome Town Council. He is now the chair of the Friends of Frome Hospital.
Peter has been a governor of Frome College for 20 years, has chaired Frome Round Table and been involved in Frome 1st Scout group.
Peter said, “I’m somewhat surprised [to be nominated] – there are many people who have done an awful lot more! We moved here in 1965 and our children grew up here – it’s a great place for children to grow up. The community’s given us an awful lot and this is a way to give something back.”
His nominator said, “Peter Smith has, and continues to work tirelessly for the good of the community of Frome in a myriad of facets. In all, Peter is a shining example of all that is good of so many people in Frome and he is an inspiration to many – a much unsung hero.”

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