Monday 11 December 2017

Building our local community - My personal statement about this years Barnet Eye Awards

On Saturday night, we held the annual Barnet Eye Community Awards Ceremony at The Chandos Arms in Colindale. For me, this is a very special night and I spend months planning it, with my team. I am extremely lucky to have a group of people (who like to stay in the background), who give me the vital support and help required to make this all happen. I'd like to thank them all. The planning starts in July. For the awards such as charity and community campaign of the year, we start making notes about who is doing what, why they should be considered. I ask friends of the blog for nominations and throughout the year, I make notes.

Once we have the nominations and citations in, our team looks at what has been suggested and who would be the best idea. We also look at previous years and change a few categories. This year we brought in Sports club of the year. The work Mill Hill Rugby club have done has meant that it was a  really obvious choice, however lots of people suggested their kids youth football teams etc. I was also very tempted to select Barnet Copthall Diving club, for their amazing campaign to keep a diving pool at Copthall, but this was more in the domain of campaigns. The Rugby club have been massively supportive of all sorts of things in the communty, which is why they swung it. Their clubhouse is one of the gems of Mill Hill, with all sorts of events there throughout the year. Richard Logue who proposed the club, and is rather keen on the oddly shaped ball version of football, clearly enjoyed presenting the award. Afterwards, we had a brief discussion and we concluded that really we need to do more to encourage such clubs, as a community

As for the Charity, we really felt that it would be good to put the work of the foodbank in the spotlight in the run in to Christmas. If we could get more food donations for the less well off members of our community, that would be great and if we could get more people into the idea of regularly donating, even better. This blog has supported the Foodbank since we first heard of its work. As a member of the Parish Council at the Sacred Heart, I had a key role in setting the church up as a regular drop off point, on the first Sunday of every month. During December, we run our Advent Calendar to promote as many local organisations as possible. I'd say that most of them could have been chosen. The venue was a big factor in the choice. We like to move the awards around and we will usually try and pick organisations local to the venue, if we can, as it makes it easier for people to get to. We generally have a pretty good idea of who we want to choose for the more important awards before we choose the venue. As we do it on a shoestring, it also helps.

For the band/musician of the year, we are spoilt for choice. Some years we recognise stalwarts of the local scene (such as Alan Warner of the Foundations last year). This year we went for a great, up and coming local band Drop Pink. To win, you have to have done stuff in and around the community. Alan Warner has done all manner of charity events etc locally. Drop Pink played twice this year, in the freezing cold, at the Mill Hill Markets and brought a stack of fans. Both are great examples of the different aspects of the local music scene.

For the person of the year, it is always a very important decision. Some years it is someone who has done something amazing over the last year. This year, we went for Councillor Jack Cohen from Childs Hill. Jack has been a councillor for over three decades. He is a tireless worker for the residents he represents and is a shining example of what we believe a local councillor should be. I don't think too many people who are familiar with Barnet Council would disagree. It is funny as even his local political opponents speak highly of him, something that is sadly a rarity these days.

Then there is the community event of the year. People put so much effort into these. The North Finchley Music Festival was a great example and a deserved winner. To put on 50 bands for free over a weekend at six different venues is an awesome undertaking. I can't think of anything else on that scale locally.

And what about the night? Well it was a blast. It was great to meet so many people. We informed the winners and it was great to see that they all came down mob handed, to make it a great night. We held a raffle to raise money for The Colindale Foodbank. We raised over £100, which was a great result. Thanks to The Day of the Raj, Mill Hill Rugby Club and Mill Hill Music Complex for the prizes. As the Rugby club won the free recording session, I suspect they will be recording the club anthem. I hope so! One of the main reasons for holding the awards is to help build bridges between the different parts of the community. It was great to see the Rugby club offering their help to the Foodbank in their acceptance speech.

After the awards, we always have some live music. This year, we had Drop Pink and my Band, The False Dots. Sadly due to an overrunning event in the venue, Drop Pink didn't get as long a slot as I'd have liked. Still everyone got to see that they are a great band. We had a blast. Here's a little video of what we played, in our acoustic set.

In short, to sum up, we see the awards as a time to bring our community together, recognise just a few of the great people and organisations that make a difference and to have some fun before Christmas. Every year, this has got bigger and better. We don't want to be the Oscars, we are the Barnet's! We do things a little bit different here. Have a great festive season.

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