The King and Queen Consort have recognised 500 volunteers as part of the Coronation celebrations and the community leader from a West Midlands railway volunteer group has been awarded with the title of ‘Coronation Champion’.
Fraser Pithie, Chair of the Friends of the Shakespeare Line is one of the five hundred recipients of this award, having been nominated by members of the local community in the national call for ‘Community Champions’ by The Royal Voluntary Service (RVS).
Over five thousand entries were received and the RVS judging panel were impressed by the tremendous numbers of nominations for local heroes and overwhelmed at the stories that told of the powerful impact of community work, the inspirational activities, and the ‘heroic’ commitment to volunteering.
Dame Judi Dench, Coronation Champions Awards Supporter expressed her gratitude to the volunteers who have been crowned Coronation Champions. “I would like to offer each and every Coronation Champion volunteer my warmest congratulations on this incredibly well-deserved award. I hope that they feel the utmost pride for all they do to help our communities thrive. I for one am incredibly grateful to them.”
The Coronation Champions Awards invited people across the UK to nominate their local volunteers who make a difference to people’s lives. Nominations were made in eight award categories and Fraser’s ‘community’ nomination covered his tireless works for, and with, the railway communities in Warwickshire to develop local stations and improve the usage of rail, together with his substantial personal work investments with education and policing for the county.
Fraser was born in Stratford upon Avon and lives in Kenilworth with his wife and they have both been invited to attend the Coronation Celebration at Windsor Castle where Fraser will receive an official Coronation Champions badge and a signed certificate from Their Majesties. Fraser is overwhelmed and humbled by the award and said: "To me, this treasured award is a recognition of the work and commitment of over seventy volunteers along the railway line between Birmingham and Stratford upon Avon and the real difference they are all making to people's daily lives. These Awards are also a powerful way to broadcast the message that volunteering to support people working on the front line of the UK’s public services is vital in these challenging times.”
Fraser and the volunteer group work closely with Network Rail who own, repair, and develop the railway infrastructure in England Scotland and Wales, and the community volunteers highly value their working relationship with the teams in the West Midlands. Denise Wetton, Central Route Director for Network Rail said: “The voluntary work Fraser does to support the ongoing improvement of the line and stations between Stratford upon Avon and Birmingham makes a huge difference to the journeys and experiences of thousands of people every year. This recognition is much deserved and testament to the years of help and support Fraser has provided to local communities. We look forward to our continued partnership to put the railways at the heart of our communities.’
The Headteacher at Woodrush Academy, Jay Barber is delighted that Fraser has recently accepted a Governorship of the Academy and said "Fraser’s work through volunteering with the railways has brokered significant opportunities for our students and enabled Woodrush Academy, the local community and it’s railway to work more closely together. We wholeheartedly congratulate him on this lifetime honour, which is so well deserved.”
Fay Easton was nominator of the award and has worked with Fraser for five years, witnessing, at first hand his total commitment to local communities. Fay said “Fraser generously uses skills gained in his working life to support people of all ages and backgrounds. His care, concern, and efforts for communities are awe-inspiring and he is a tireless lead volunteer and 'friend' of railway communities covering eighteen towns and railway stations. When I saw the Coronation Community Awards looking for ‘local heroes’, this really resonated, as Fraser is so often called ‘a local hero’ across this network.
As well as the gargantuan work for the railways, Fraser also works freely with the local Safer Neighbourhood Policing Team and is a Governor and mentor for a high school along the railway route, supporting young people with life and job opportunities. I have worked with Fraser for five years and can honestly say I have never met anyone with such generous public spirit and care for fellow citizens with so much energy given freely to help, support and enrich lives of others. This award is so richly deserved.”
Nadiya Hussain, also a Coronation Champions Awards ambassador, said: “A huge congratulations to the Coronation Champions Award recipients, hearing the stories of volunteers has touched my heart and I want to say a huge thank you to all the lovely volunteers who give their time to helping others across the country, every day.”
Catherine Johnstone, chief executive of Royal Voluntary Service, said: “We were completely blown away by the response to the Coronation Champions Awards and the huge volume of amazing nominees put forward. Our judges had a tough job selecting just 500 champions from an array of thousands of inspirational individuals, who all deserve to be recognised and commended. Each of our coronation champions displayed a commitment and contribution that far exceeds any expectation.”
Shabrana Hussain, Birmingham City Councillor said “The community in our inner-city neighbourhoods felt ‘left behind by the railways’ with transport being an ongoing problem, but Fraser has come along, and as a railway focused volunteer, he welcomed and embraced our local community and made determined and significant efforts to ‘unlock’ access to the railway for local people. Consequently, we are now working on exciting projects that will enable increased use of rail for our communities of Small Heath & Sparkbrook and we are delighted to celebrate this award for our true ‘local hero’.”
Jonny Wiseman, Customer Experience Director from West Midlands Railway, said: “This award is welcome recognition of the tireless work put in by thousands of volunteers across the country in making local railway stations warm and welcoming environments. It is through the efforts of people like Fraser that strong links between local communities and the railway are built and fostered.”
For any further information please contact: FOSLVolunteers@protonmail.com