Honoured Citizen Award Scheme

Congratulations to the 2021 and 2022 recipients of the Honoured Citizen Award. They received their awards at this year’s Annual Town Meeting. Please see below for the recipients and why they won:

Leah Fowler:

Honoured Citizen Leah Fowler

Leah Fowler

With an active life dedicated to helping others, Leah has been at the heart of Charlbury life for many decades alongside her beloved husband Derek who sadly died in March 2021 after 61 years of marriage.

Leah’s charitable activities and achievements in Charlbury are too numerous to mention them all here so we must just focus on three main areas which have been at the centre of her work.

Firstly, the Guides.  Leah started helping out with the Brownies in Chadlington in 1955 taking girls along from Charlbury on the bus.  A few years later, Leah started a Brownie Pack in Charlbury which flourished and a second pack was opened in 1970.  Leah arranged numerous expeditions and great fun was had by all.  This was a very active period for the Guide and Scout movements in Charlbury and Leah, along with Joyce Harrison formed a Ranger Guide Unit which enabled older girls to work for Duke of Edinburgh Awards.  The Rangers were later joined by the Venture Scouts in a joint unit.  With guidance from Leah and her colleagues many young people achieved D of E awards including 9 golds and 18 silvers.  Leah went on the become District Commissioner, Division Commissioner for the Wychwood Division and ultimately Division President.  Leah also took over the Rainbows (for 5- to 7-year-olds) and after her retirement she has retained here involvement with the movement through the Trefoil Guild.

A second focus for both Leah and Derek has been St Mary’s Church where Derek was verger and Leah is sacristan.  As well as her formal sacristan duties of preparing sacraments for services, Leah is a constant presence within the church helping with practical arrangements.  Leah gets actively involved with weddings, funerals and other special services and events in the church and can often be seen on these occasions directing people to their seats.  Always keen to be useful and to utilise her many skills, Leah has also turned her hand to making candles to keep the church supplied.

The final area to mention is Leah’s work with SeeSaw, an Oxford-based charity working with families in crisis following an unexpected bereavement or news of the impending death of a parent or sibling.  Following the death of their own son at the young age of 29, Leah and Derek were supported by St Mary’s Church and, realising the importance of such counselling, Leah undertook training and started volunteering with SeeSaw to support families.  In recognition of this work, Leah received the Oxfordshire County Volunteers’ Award in 2011 and went on to be an Ambassador for the charity giving talks and fund-raising.

In all of her endeavours, Leah has strived and succeeded in making a positive difference for people, young and old alike.

Leah can be forthright in speaking her mind but is always ready to give help, support and encouragement to others.  Leah has a wealth of stories to tell and time spent with her is always enlightening and entertaining.

Thank you, Leah, for all of your efforts and for being there! – Charlbury wouldn’t be Charlbury without you!

Alan Fraser:

Honoured Citizen Alan Fraser

Alan Fraser 

Few can fail to notice the rich, varied and thriving cultural life here in Charlbury which belies the modest size of the community.  However, many may not appreciate the extent to which this has been enriched over the past 40 years by initiatives which have their origins with Alan Fraser and his wife Trish.  From the moment they arrived in Charlbury, they set in motion a small transformation for the enjoyment of all in the town on a voluntary basis and not for any personal profit.

Having organised a series of soirees featuring his talents as a jazz musician and comedian, Alan secured the use of a spare classroom when the Primary School relocated away from the Playing Close.  In this space, Alan created a small intimate performance venue and the Hothouse was born, attracting an eclectic range of established musicians as well as nurturing new local talent.  By the time the Hothouse closed, when the building was demolished, a vibrant culture of musical performance was well established in the town and the spirit of the Hothouse now lives again in the excellent Speakeasy at the Shed.

As another initiative, Alan arranged a summer Jazz Picnic on the Mill Field island and free for all to attend.  This proved very popular and, thanks to the hard work of Charlbury Honoured Citizen Andy Pickard and many others, the free music festival concept lives on at this venue in the well-established Riverside Festival.

We must also mention the inspirational work of Alan’s wife Trish in establishing a thriving youth drama group during the 80’s and 90’s.

Alan and friends continue to delight us all with impromptu free concerts.

So, with this award we recognise Alan’s cultural innovations that have helped to make Charlbury the thriving community that we see today.

Joan Belshaw:

Honoured Citizen Joan Belshaw

Joan Belshaw 

Joan has quietly contributed to many good things happening in Charlbury on her own initiative.

Joan organised the annual Christmas shoebox appeal to send gifts to children overseas.  Joan also organised regular craft workshops at the Baptist Church and used her skills to make applique banners for local organisations such as Charlbury Green Hub.

Joan helped the Green Hub to provide cookery demonstrations for home cooked favourites and regularly made Christmas Puddings and other delights for people in the town.

For many years Joan also helped to keep Charlbury neat and tidy by regularly collecting rubbish all around the town.

All in all, Joan gives freely of her time in a quiet way for the benefit of others and epitomises the community spirit that makes Charlbury the friendly and welcoming place that it is.

Hugh Belshaw:

Honoured Citizen Hugh Belshaw

Hugh Belshaw 

Hugh has been running the Canoe Club in Charlbury for many years giving local people an opportunity to get out on our river and enjoy a unique perspective on the natural environment in and around the Evenlode.

Hugh is also a keen gardener and regularly grows plants for sale to raise money for local charities and societies including the Charlbury Garden Society and local churches.  Recently, Hugh led a group from the Garden Society who have transformed the Corner House garden into a beautiful and peaceful public space available to the whole community.

As a qualified accountant, Hugh has for a long time been the “go to” person for very many of Charlbury’s voluntary organisations to examine and certify their accounts.  Hugh has always carried out this necessary and important task willingly and diligently, ready to offer sound and helpful advice to volunteer treasurers where necessary.

Hugh is a well-liked and respected member of the community whose friendly manner and quiet efforts help to improve life for all of us.

Honoured Citizen Award Rules

Please see the rules below for the Honoured Citizen Award Scheme. Nominations are now closed until January 2023.

Charlbury Town Council