Will Forster

Former Mayor of Woking and Lib Dem Councillor for South Woking Learn more

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My Woking Civic Reception

by willforster on 14 May, 2019

At the end of their term, each Mayor of Woking hosts a Civic Reception, and I recently held my Civic Reception at the HG Wells Centre where I was delighted to pay tribute to Woking’s volunteers.

When I was elected as Mayor last year, I knew I would be busy – but little did I know just how busy! I have always known that Woking has a great community, but I was still amazed at how much actually goes on in our Borough. And over the last year, I have had the privilege of meeting countless businesses, organisations and individuals – who all make our town a richer, more diverse and better place to live.

Most of this is down to the hard work of volunteers, who are the backbone of Woking’s community. Which is why my Civic Reception focused on thanking those people who give their time, energy and money to support Woking’s many community organisations and events.

Without volunteers, Woking would grind to a halt. Our cultural groups, our faith groups and our youth groups – are many more – are all run by volunteers. Volunteers might not be paid, but that is not because they are worthless it is because they priceless.

As Woking’s youngest Mayor, I have tried to focus time on supporting and nurturing the younger generation. And over the last year, I regularly met someone who was spending as much time as they could to support children and young people in Woking. In recognition for her outstanding contribution to Guiding and Scouting across the Borough, I decided to give Liz Pocknell the highest honour the Mayor can grant – that of Eminent Citizen.

Liz has completed 22 years as a Guide Leader and another 23 as a Scouter. She has been a Sheerwater Cub Leader and over the last 8 years she served as Woking Scouts District Commissioner, only working one day a week to focus on the Scouts. Whilst she has been District Commissioner, Woking Scouts have set up one new District HQ and 3 new Group HQs, added new buildings to their Birchmere Campsite and over 50 members have gained a Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award.

Liz Pocknell and the Scouts are an incredible asset to Woking, and I am proud that one of my main acts as Mayor is to pay tribute to all Scouts in Woking.

At the Civic Reception, I was also delighted to reward three amazing young people who make an outstanding contribution to the community.

Firstly, Kye Jarred was given the Woking Young People’s Civic Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Community. Kye is a remarkable young man who has raised a significant amount of money to support my charity, the York Road Project. Aged just 12, Kye first raised money for the charity in order to provide care packages, carefully considering which packages should be included such as breakfast bars, socks and personalised messages of support.  Kye participated in the Project’s sleep-out, which he raised money through sponsorship and created ‘Mission Kyndness’ in order to continue his fundraising for the charity and increase awareness.  Kye raised £500 to buy 100 £5 Greggs vouchers so that people on the streets could buy a cup of coffee and something to eat.

Then have Jaylen Simons, who was given the Outstanding Achievement Award.  Jaylen attends Woking College and is an outstanding student who has balanced her study and incredible academic achievement alongside tutoring a Syrian refugee, teaching English as a foreign language and helping her student both academically and aiding her assimilation into British life.

Finally, I was pleased to give Grace Campbell the Triumph Over Adversity Award. Grace is a very courageous young lady who has undergone major surgery to remove a large ovarian tumour.  Despite being in pain and struggling with concentration, Grace was determined to continue her GCSEs and returned to school just two weeks after her operation. Remarkably, Grace only missed school when attending hospital appointments, even taking school work with her to hospital determined to do her best in her exams.  Grace is also an invaluable support to her mother, who is in a wheelchair.

It was an honour to present each award winner with their glass trophy and certificate.  Kye, Jaylen and Grace are exemplary members of our community, who have consistently gone above and beyond what is expected of them in their school, work or private lives, to help others overcome adversity. They are a true inspiration to us all.

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