National award for parish councillor who led Holloway memorial project

Joan Ward has been given a British Citizen Award for her services to the community of Dethick, Lea and Holloway
Joan Ward has been given a British Citizen Award for her services to the community of Dethick, Lea and Holloway
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A woman who has served on the parish council of Dethick, Lea and Holloway over many years has been recognised with a national honour.

Joan Ward, 84, is one of 36 people from across the country who will be presented with a British Citizen Award at a ceremony later this month.

As a member of the parish council, she led efforts to restore the five-acre memorial gardens in Holloway which were rededicated last October to local residents killed in the First World War.

Joan said: “I feel a little bit embarrassed to be given an award really. I’m just someone who gets on and does it.”

“I managed to get some funding from the Heritage Lottery Funding and along with a hardy group of volunteers we managed to create something really quite special.”

She added: “More than 200 people came to the service of re-dedication and the Women’s Institute helped research the stories of the fallen.

“We’ve now set up The Friends of the Memorial Garden and will be working to ensure it’s looked after for years to come.”

Joan has also worked tirelessly on community projects ranging from organising the village picnic to turning a disused telephone box into a book exchange.

She has planted bulbs on the village green, given guided history walks and delivered copies of the parish magazine.

She said: “When my husband, Alan, died in 2011 I just wanted to keep busy. I was asked if I would like to stand for the local parish council and it was just before the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

“I asked what we were doing to celebrate and they said ‘whatever you like’. From that moment on I went into overdrive.”

The British Citizen Awards (BCAs), which have been dubbed ‘the people’s honours’ were launched in January 2015, to recognise exceptional individuals who work tirelessly and selflessly to make a positive impact on society.

Joan was nominated for the award by her daughter, Susan Kirwan, who said: “Mum is so determined in her outlook on everything that she undertakes.

“Although she occasionally questions the scale of what she has taken on, she battles through and never gives up.”

BCAs are awarded twice annually, and recognise ‘everyday’ people whose achievements may otherwise be overlooked.

Joan will receive her medal of honour on Thursday, January 25, at the Palace of Westminster.

Award sponsor Nathan Rous said: “It’s an absolute pleasure to be involved with the British Citizen Awards and to hear inspirational stories such as Joan’s.

“There’s so many good people doing great things across the country and they deserve to be recognised in this way.”

To find out more about the awards and other winners, see britishcitizenawards.co.uk.