Community stalwarts through to national Parish Councillor award final

Three community stalwarts have been shortlisted for a national award celebrating the vital work of parish councillors.

Derek Lacey, of Chesham Town Council, Chris Brown, of Cholesbury-Cum-St Leonards Parish Council and Vicki Smith, of West Wycombe Parish Council were nominated by Buckinghamshire County Council cabinet and deputy cabinet members for going the extra mile in their communities.

The trio have made the final five of the Local Government Information Unit’s (LGiU’s) Parish Councillor of the Year award, part of its Councillor Achievement Awards 2016, which had more than 200 entries. The winner will be announced on November 1 at a ceremony in London which is free to attend.

Derek Lacey, who was nominated by Mark Shaw, the Cabinet Member for Transport, has been an Independent member of Chesham Town Council for the last 30 years. He represents Pond Park, one of the most deprived and socially diverse wards in Buckinghamshire.

He has overcome severe health problems to be an inspiration to his community.Derek was diagnosed with Type One diabetes when he was 15 and lost a leg while he also has a chronic heart condition.

He has campaigned tirelessly for improvements to youth facilities, retention of local bus routes and better health care.

Chris Brown, who was nominated by Noel Brown, the Deputy Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, has served on Cholesbury-Cum-St Leonards Parish Council for the last 17 years, becoming Vice Chairman in 2001, a position he has retained to this day.

Over the past few years he has played a leading role in the formation of a good neighbours group, a pub lunch club, a winter car scheme to ensure people are able to get to hospital in bad weather, exercise sessions for locals and the setting up of computer literacy courses.

Chriswas also instrumental in the campaign for superfast broadband in the parish, which culminated in the final equipment being installed by BT Openreach in March 2016.

Vicki Smith, who was nominated by Jean Teesdale, the Deputy Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, has been a parish councillor since the creation of West Wycombe Parish Council in 1987, and has been its chairman for the last 25 years.

She started the New Year Day Walk in 2000, regularly runs coffee mornings for a hospice and sits on the West Wycombe Events Committee. Under her chairmanship, the parish council allotments were secured, and the burial ground and play area have been created.

Vickihas worked tirelessly over the past few years trying to gain assurances from HS2 that their construction traffic will not go through the village High Street, and the Parish Council presented to the Select Committee of the House of Commons in November 2015.

Leader of Buckinghamshire County Council, Martin Tett, said: “My congratulations to Derek, Chris and Vicki.

“Town and parish councillors really are the unsung heroes of Buckinghamshire, working tirelessly to improve their local communities.

“The fact that threelocal peoplehave madethe final of theseawards is a real indicator of the strength of Buckinghamshire’s town and parish councils.”