Community News From Around Our Area

County Heroes Recognised for Selfless Efforts by High Sheriff of the West Midlands at Reception Evening

Unsung heroes who pull out all the stops for the benefit of others in their communities have been recognised by the High Sheriff of the West Midlands.

Louise Bennett OBE DL presented a series of certificates and medals at the High Sheriff’s Summer Reception and Presentations Evening which took place at the Telegraph Hotel in Coventry city centre and was attended by some 75 guests.

The event was compered by Mr Sean Rose, of the Coventry & Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce supported by Freya Pinnick, the High Sheriff’s Cadet, during the presentations.

Guests at the reception included the Lord Mayor & Lady Mayoress of Coventry, the Lord Mayor & Lady Mayoress of Birmingham, the Mayor & Mayoress of Wolverhampton and the Mayor of Solihull.

The presentations recognised young people and community leaders from across the West Midlands, with the High Sheriff choosing to host the event in Coventry during its year as UK City of Culture.

A local community stalwart receiving recognition who is renowned for bringing together the residents of Stoke Aldermoor, Coventry was Raymond Stabler. For more than two decades Ray has organised a range of fun activities for residents of all ages in the area, from fetes to talent shows and day trips to the seaside.

More recently he established a local food hub to help neighbours who were shielding or self-isolating, and the hub is now part of a network in Coventry working with City Council referrals to receive emergency food parcels.

Katie Bladon, aged 18, of Solihull, was recognised for her selfless efforts in caring for family members throughout her childhood from the age of 10. Using a Bursary Prize she won as part of a competition, Katie has since established a book club for other young carers to help benefit their literacy and social skills.

Ricky Lowther, aged 23, of Wednesfield, who previously spent time in care, is an active member of Care Leavers Independent Collective (CLIC) and actively contributes ideas to help improve the care experience for young people in Wolverhampton.

Ricky is also a key figure in The House Project, which helps young people leaving care to live independent lives and is also a member of a young people’s interview panel which ensures the right people are in place to deliver children and young people’s services in Wolverhampton.

He is also one of several trainers who help deliver the national, award-winning Total Respect programme which aims to educate professionals working with children and young people on the causes, effects and common misconceptions about young people in care.

In Dudley, two women who spent their young lives in care and now work to improve opportunities for children in care today, each received a certificate. Tiffany Bateman of Dudley and Tia Siviter of Cradley each received an award in recognition of their contribution to Total Respect Training to benefit young people in their area and to inspire hope and create opportunities.

The final award of the evening went to Hitesh Mehta, Louise’s own personal choice for an award. Hitesh has dedicated half his life, since the age of 18, to volunteer as a Special Constable with West Midlands Police. Growing up in an area with high anti-social behaviour and crime rates, Hitesh is committed to supporting the police in his community. Also a full-time carer for his parents and working for HSBC, Hitesh was promoted to Special Sergeant in January this year.

It is a role of which he is incredibly proud. Hitesh said, “Being a Special provides the chance to learn more about your community by seeing it from an entirely new perspective. It gives me the opportunity to give something back to my local area, making it safer and enhancing relationships between the public and the police. It’s all about creating and building trusting relationships.”

Hitesh is also proud and honoured to be the recipient of the High Sheriff’s Personal Award and has asked to dedicate this achievement to his wife, mum, auntie, dad, and the people of West Midlands Police who have made him who he is today.

Louise organised the event to celebrate the efforts of young people and community leaders in the region and their contribution to society – themes which underpin her year as the High Sheriff.

She said, “These young people are a real example of how our region can align an individual’s hopes and aspirations with opportunities in terms of skills, learning and jobs.

“However, I think we all know we still have much to do across the region to inspire young people – to support their hopes and dreams and to connect aspiration with opportunity.”

The event was also attended by David Burbidge CBE DL, the last individual from Coventry to hold the High Sheriff of the West Midlands position in 1990. David is also Chairman of Coventry City of Culture 2021.

Mr Burbidge said the City of Culture events will bring a number of benefits, not just to the city but to the region as a whole. As well as huge capital investment in Coventry, including enhancements to the city centre, Cathedral, Belgrade Theatre and the renovation of Drapers Hall, the packed programme of events will all help to promote the young, diverse city as a great place to live and work, and will bring an expected £250m to the region as a whole.

Picture Caption: High Sheriff of the West Midlands Louise Bennett OBE DL pictured with St. John Ambulance Cadet, Freya Pinnick and Special Constable Hitesh Mehta