Volunteers in Meltham who stepped up to support their community during the pandemic were celebrated during a virtual ceremony.

The Zoom ceremony was hosted by former Mayor of Meltham Clr Kate Buchanan who said: “Community spirit is alive and well in Meltham!”

Around 200 volunteers will receive the Pride of Meltham Award, a certificate and a specially-designed lapel badge.

The local community response in Meltham – named ‘Meltham.org’ – was established ahead of the first lockdown in March last year – bringing together the key community organisations within Meltham to support residents, business and the wider community.

More than 200 individuals signed up to help. Zoom sessions were held with business owners to help them through accessing grants and advice; whilst community organisations rallied to support themselves and others during the lockdown.

The Meltham.org initiative also ran a number of projects such as commissioning Olivia Hemingway to produce the SMALL WORLDS photographic series and delivered coffee mornings within the village through an outside café concept known as ‘The Square’ and worked with local artist Claire Curran and Zest for Print to commission art work to celebrate NHS and key workers.

The Meltham.org programme also worked with Swooshed, a Meltham-based event production company to illuminate several local buildings throughout lockdown; including a special tribute to Capt Sir Tom Moore, where a film was broadcast from Meltham Fire Station.

Meltham.org also led on securing funding to deliver a refurbishment of Meltham Food Bank, based at the former Town Hall.

The Zoom ceremony

Meltham town councillor and lead for the Meltham.org community response initiative, Richard Noon, said: “It was fantastic to put faces to names and hear stories from various members of our community to hear more about their experiences over the last few months.

“We worked really hard throughout lockdown and the restrictions to support our community in unique ways, through art, light and encouraging socialising when we could.

“We aim to have provided some comfort and something a little bit different during the national lockdowns and restrictions.

“We wouldn’t have been able to do all this, though, without the support from residents. In total we supported 1,100 households at different points throughout the year.”

At a meeting held in 2020, Meltham Town Council voted to award those who supported the Meltham.org community response body with a unique Pride of Meltham Award.

These awards are given to individuals and community organisations for their outstanding achievements and contribution to the community. As a token of appreciation, individuals were given a lapel pin badge and commemorative card. The badge was designed by Claire Curran.

Clr Buchanan, Mayor of Meltham from 2019-2021, added: “Communities up and down the country were placed under severe pressure by the Coronavirus pandemic.

“Individuals and community groups stood together offering help, someone to talk to, a lifeline and a shoulder to cry on. Meltham was no different and the role that Meltham.org and its volunteers played was important in supporting friends, neighbours and the wider community. As is so frequently seen in Meltham, community spirit is alive and well.”