Burnham-On-Sea Highbridge Civic Awards Winners 2019

Four residents from Burnham-On-Sea were awarded Civic Awards and honoured for their service to the local community during a special service on Sunday (September 8th).

Janet Chalmers, Dom Gregory, Dave Parsons and Bernard Spilsbury, pictured above, were presented with their awards during the annual Civic Service at St Andrew’s Church in Burnham, which was attended by over 150 local residents and dignitaries.

The winners, chosen by the Town Council, were drawn up from a list of nominees submitted by members of the public.

The service was preceded by a procession of civic dignitaries from The Princess Theatre to the church, as pictured.

They were met by a guard of honour formed outside the church by Burnham Sea Cadets, shown below.

The Mayor of Burnham and Highbridge, Mayor Cllr Andy Brewer, led Sunday’s ceremony alongside the High Sheriff of Somerset, Johnnie Halliday. He praised the winners for their “huge commitment and dedication”.


After a welcome from Pastor Kelton Black, who is the Mayor’s Chaplain, a poem was read by Burnham Sea Cadet, Able Cadet William Leader, who is the Mayor’s Cadet.

Music was performed by Burnham and Highbridge group Tumbleweed, and a declaration of blessings was made by Malcolm Spratt. A bible reading was read by Cllr Brewer, followed by hymns, prayers, and a thought-provoking address by Kelton Black.

The four winners then received their Civic Awards from the Mayor, Mayoress and High Sheriff, once testimonials were read for each. Each recipient received a framed certificate and a special lapel badge engraved with their name.

After prayers and hymns, a collection took place for the Mayor’s charity, Burnham Sea Cadets, and the service ended with the singing of the National Anthem, followed by a civic tea at Southwell Gardens in Highbridge.

Citation for Janet Chalmers – Civic award winner

“Janet Chalmers has an amazing volunteer background. She moved to the Burnham area from Surrey in 1994. Janet is very active at St Andrews Church, she founded the knit and natter group, started primarily to welcome refugees to the area but open for anyone to join.”

“Janet has been a volunteer at the Burnham and Highbridge Abbeyfield Society, an independent charitable home for elderly people, since 1996.  She has been Chairman of the Friends committee and for a number of years has been on the Executive Committee also acting as a trustee.”

“Janet was Secretary to the local Mothers Union group for 23 years. After joining to help the Brownies group at East Brent as Tawny Owl, she has helped the Rainbows group as Tawny Owl as well, and involved herself in the Trefoil Guild, which is for Granny guides.”

“Janet has supported the Woman’s Refuge group in Bridgwater, and for 5 years was a volunteer at Shelton Mallet prison, looking after visitor’s children. Janet is also a member of the Welsh Society, attends keep fit classes and had a very long record as a volunteer in many organisations even before she came to Burnham-On-Sea.”

“With a volunteer background of over 60 years, Janet is an amazing lady, and does an amazing job at our Abbeyfield home in Burnham.  Interestingly Janet has qualified to live at Abbeyfield for the last 30 years but chooses to live in her own home and continues help many people in Burnham and Highbridge.”

“How has Janet found the time to do so much? Janet is a very worthy recipient of a Civic Award.”

Citation for Bernard Spilsbury – Civic award winner

“Bernie has been a member of the committee of the Friends of Burnham War Memorial Hospital for approximately 10 years, serving as Vice Chairman for three years and now as Chairman for the past three years.”

“Under his tenure the Friends of Burnham Hospital have gone from strength to strength with several new initiatives.”

“Bernie has also been a leading light in the King Alfred Concert Band for more than 10 years and is a past Chairman. He has also been involved with various charities over the years including The SURE Scanner Appeal and Prostate Cancer UK.”

“Nothing is too much trouble for Bernie; he regularly cuts the lawn for his 92-year-old neighbour. Bernie is a very worthy recipient of a Civic Award.”

Citation for Dave Parsons – Civic award winner

“Dave has been involved with the RNLI for the last 16 years, since its re-establishment in Burnham-On-Sea in 2003.”

“Although now (slightly) over the age to be a member of the Lifeboat Crew, Dave is now Tractor Driver for one of the tracked vehicles used to transport and launch the Lifeboats. Dave also helps with in-house accounts at the local RNLI.”

“Since 1991 Dave has been the Chairman and Treasurer of the Burnham-on-Sea Allotment Gardens Association. He is also one of a small group of tenants who give up their time to do remedial work and renovations on the Allotment site helping others who are less able.”

“Dave is a valued and popular member of both groups and is most worthy of a Civic Award from his home town of Burnham-On-Sea.”

Citation for Dom Gregory – Civic award winner

“Dom is the Commanding Officer at TS Dulverton, the Burnham-On-Sea and Highbridge Sea Cadet Unit. Dom has been involved with Sea Cadets for a number of years taking over as Commanding Officer three years ago. He is highly respected within the unit as well as by other units in the area.”

“He has built up a great team of staff and parent volunteers performing various roles, consistently aiming to work to ‘best practice’ and in doing so motivates the cadets and the whole team to achieve high standards.”

“Dom devotes a large amount of his time for two parade nights a week, as well as behind the scenes administration of cadet courses and weekend activities, and his partner should also share some credit in this respect.”

“Dom is keen for the all of the cadets to recognise their part in the local community ensuring that discipline and respect are equal to having an awful lot of fun. Working with the committee, Dom has ensured the availability of boats, kayaks and a designated minibus so that the cadets have every opportunity to participate in water based activities and competitions throughout the summer months.”

“Activities have included: canoe and kayaking at Apex Park, Huntspill River, Cheddar Reservoir, River Tamar, Weymouth and Sidmouth, as well as sea kayaking with seals and week-long voyages on one of the two Sea Cadet dedicated vessels with the Naval Unit at HMS Raleigh near Plymouth.”

“In 2018, Dom supported the cadets along with Chief Jo Sidwell, in making their way to the National Finals at the Excel Centre in London where I am proud to say through dedicated additional training; TS Dulverton came back to Somerset with numerous awards. For those who know Dom it is no surprise that the unit has really flourished with his lead. Dom is therefore well worthy of a Civic Award.”

Mayor’s praise for the four winners

Burnham and Highbridge Mayor Cllr Andy Brewer said: “Each year the Town Council seeks to recognise individuals who have demonstrated outstanding service to the community, made a significant contribution to public life in Burnham and Highbridge, and have shown real dedication in helping local residents.”

“A large number of nominations were received again this year and were carefully considered by Town Councillors.  From these four have been selected to receive Civic Awards.”

“The theme of this Service is Working Together and Teamwork. Whilst the awards are to individuals each of the recipients this year work as part of a team, and whether they are leading the team or in a supporting role, they all play a key part enabling the team to function effectively.”