ANDOVER residents came together in a show of community spirit to recognise the town’s unsung heroes at the highly-anticipated Pride of Andover Awards 2023.

The prestigious event took place at The Lights on Tuesday, October 24, to celebrate the people who make a big difference to the lives of so many, but who are so often just getting on with it.

Once again, the event was hosted by Channel Four’s Hunted star and fundraiser Jordan Wylie and compared by previous Pride of Andover Award winner Dmitrijs Meiksans.

The winners of this year’s awards are: 

Fundraiser award - sponsored by Purple Oak Support

Winner: Diane White

Diane has been fundraising for various groups and is always helping people whenever she can. During July and August this year, Diane raised over £2,000 for the Teenage Cancer Trust, organising donations, a raffle, and an auction. With a daughter currently battling Hodgkin’s Lymphoma for the second time, Diane still finds time to help other young people in the same situation, stepping up, and taking control, and is the strength her family need at such a difficult time.

Diane said: “It gives you something to focus on rather than seeing what your daughter is going through, and when you are thrown back into seeing children and young adults fighting cancer, the Government don’t do anything to help so you just go out in the community and ask businesses, shops for donations and then the community raises the money.”

Highly Commended: Neil and Caroline Dyke from Stitch Logo


Community Champion - sponsored by Ocado

Winner: Pauline Hoare

Pauline, 93, was described by the judges as “bursting with life and happiness”. Pauline knits hats and jumpers for premature babies in hospital wards, and recently took part in a family fundraiser for Ocean Ward at Southampton hospital, which took care of her great-grandson. She also walked the equivalent of two marathons for the ward that cared for her.

She represents the Salvation Army and raises money by selling magazines in the town centre.

Upon receiving her award, Pauline said: “I just done what needs to be done. When people need help, I give it if I can. I’m also a Salvationist so if I can’t help physically, I help by prayer.”

Highly Commended: YMCA Andover Community Team


Young Person of the Year - sponsored by Bear Behind Ltd

Winner: Ollee Lucker 

Ollee saved his friend’s life when a branch went through his friend’s leg, acting quickly and bravely he called the emergency services and the boy’s parents, flagged down help and applied pressure to the wound. Paramedics said that if Ollee had not acted so quickly “the friends would have lost a friend”.

He said: “It was just instinct, I did what I had to in the situation and that’s about it.”

Highly Commended: Alegra Heyel


Sports Award - sponsored by Acroud

Winner: Michael McGarry

Michael has been doing jujitsu for over 45 years and mentored thousands of students, having Kyouken BJJ in Andover for over 20 years. He has also trained three professional fighters, as well as four students who have gone on to represent the GB squad in competitions across the world. He has also competed in Mongolia for the GB squad.

Michael’s club has 86 full-time members ranging from five to 60 in a series of disciplines.

He said: “It’s all about giving on to the next generation, I’m not going to be here forever, what I’m going to do is pass that onto other people to pass that onto other people. You can only do that by keeping going yourself.”

Highly Commended: Lily Ross


Inspiring Others Award - sponsored by Andover Aesthetic 

Winner: Siobhan Down

Siobhan set up the Yellow Brick Roads Projects, with a vision to see an end to homelessness and give people the skills and confidence they need to sustain a tenancy. The charity is in its 10th year, and Siobhan has continued to lead from strength to strength and has supported those at risk of homelessness.

Siobhan was described as a “restorative leader, readily welcoming, acknowledging and appreciating the wisdom and energy of those around her in developing the organisation”.

After receiving her award, Siobhan said: “I believe that everyone has a seam of gold and often our young people and ourselves we haven’t been able to find that because it’s got loads of other stuff on top, I wanted to create an organisation that has got people in it that help other people find their value and their worth." 

Siobhan thanked her team and the community.

Highly Commended: Lighthouse Bus Team


Services Award - sponsored by The DeeDee Trust

Winner: Chris Williams

Chris, the booking clerk at Andover train station, has used his previous experience in social work to deal with many circumstances, from dealing with the elderly, the confused and people with disabilities. Chris has also helped injured people, and suicidal people and helped passengers escaping abuse flee the station when they have been pursued.

He was described as “the calming voice, the helping hand, the friendly face” at the station.

When asked how he stays so calm when people are stressed at the station, Chris said: “It’s just working with life, getting round people, listening to what they want, talking to them and trying to calm them down where possible.

“It’s not always easy, but a smile, a laugh, a joke with some people. It’s very difficult sometimes, but always try your hardest to get the best out of them.”

Highly Commended: Tommy, Macsen, James, Evan, Grace, Niamh and Nathan


Arts Award - sponsored by The Rockhouse

Winner: Kim Garner

Kim runs the Memory Choir based at Andover Mind and each week dementia sufferers and their carers come together to sing songs from their youth. Kim also organises outings to raise awareness and enrich the experiences of members.

She was described as bringing “companionship, fun and excitement” to member's lives.

She said: “Dementia probably touches every single person, in some form or another, in this room and membership to the choir is someone whose life has been impacted and that can be the person with dementia, family, friends and volunteers, so when they gig all these people come together. I don’t want the Memory Choir to just be ‘that’s something for a load of people with dementia’, everybody is included.”

Highly Commended: Caroline Perkins


Heart of Gold Award - sponsored by the Carpet Cleaning Lady 

Winner: Susan Collins

For over three decades Susan has dedicated her time to volunteer, clean and maintain two cemeteries, transforming the sacred places into places of solace and comfort for countless families. Throughout her time, Susan has cut grass, weeded and cleaned gravestones, and helped families reconnect with their heritage.

The judges said that Susan’s presence at the cemeteries has provided “comfort and support” to families, adding that her “dedication goes far beyond what can be expected of a volunteer”.

Upon receiving her award, Susan said: “It started very young when my father died when I was four, I was brought up by grandparents, and my grandmother was always into the church and my grandfather would cut the grass on the opposite side so I would be with him. He gave me a pair of shears for my dad’s grave, so I would cut his grave and a few others, it continued all my life from there.”

Highly Commended: Katy Ross


The Sue Sheppard Award - sponsored by The Commercial Centre

Winner: Rebecca Watkins

Rebecca was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2018 and went through months of treatment and eventually went through surgery to remove her bowel and some of her lower intestine. Having to give up full-time work, Rebecca continued to volunteer and is now a manager at Andover Foodbank, welcomes Ukrainian refugees and provides necessities, and is a member of the Saxon Field Community Association. She also time keeps and acts as a marshal at Andover Parkrun.

Rebecca was described as an “incredibly strong person” and has inspired someone to become an oncology nurse.

She said: “I like being involved in the community and helping out with things. Work can sometimes be a dull mundane thing to do, so finding something in your spare time that you can really get involved in and help other people is just more rewarding.”

Highly Commended: Jack Harris


Mayor of Test Valley Award - sponsored by Bulpitt Print Ltd

Winner: Mary Bayfield

Mary Bayfield has been volunteering at the Countess of Brecknock Hospice for over 22 years, notably as a bereavement volunteer providing one-to-one support. Mary steps in to support those left behind, offering guidance and assistance, helping them to adapt and provide a safe space to talk, being hailed “a lifesaver”. She was described as a “true diamond and unsung hero”.

Mary said: “The main thing I do is supporting people through the most painful time of their life when they’ve lost somebody and encouraging and enabling them to pick up their lives again and go forwards as best they can.

“It is very rewarding because you see people who are literally on their knees and see them gradually picking themselves up again and getting on with their lives.”

Spirit of Andover - sponsored by New Street Dental Care 

Winner: Siobhan Down

Siobhan said: “My parents taught English for 35 years in Andover and I followed on by being part of that, helping to grow young people in Andover, it’s just amazing.

“I have a lot of the experiences that the young people have that we work with and that’s why I really believe in everybody trying to find themselves in something.”