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Recognition for hundreds of pandemic volunteers at ‘thank you’ reception

Four people. Three holding gifts

On behalf of the town, around 200 invited guests have been thanked by the Mayor of Farnham, former Mayor and partner organisations for their contribution to the local response to the pandemic and their generosity in helping people in need.

The reception was held at Waverley Abbey House on 18 August. The Mayor, Councillor Alan Earwaker was joined by Councillor Pat Evans, who was Town Mayor through most of the duration of the pandemic, to meet volunteers who had provided help at various stages of the outbreak, from providing food and medicine to vulnerable people, helping those with financial or business worries, right through to rolling out the local vaccine programme and helping the town adjust to living with COVID.   

Councillor Alan Earwaker reflected on Farnham’s COVID journey since March 2020: “It was unthinkable, even a year ago, that so many of us would be meeting together like this. It is great that after so long we can finally hold this reception to thank some of the special people who supported the community during the pandemic and the roll out of the vaccination programme. While not everyone could make it here this evening, it is wonderful to be able to thank so many people in person.”  

Councillor Pat Evans who was the incumbent Mayor in March 2020 and stayed in her role for a further year when the annual town meeting was postponed added her thanks: “I saw at first hand the great work carried out by so many of you here this evening. From the outset, the community stepped up to help others who were isolating, vulnerable or in need.”

Councillor Evans went on to highlight some of the initiatives set up, adapted or expanded across Farnham during the crisis: Farnham Connects, Farnham Neighbours’ Network, the share shop and Wrecclesham Community Fridge, befriending schemes and food and hygiene banks, to name just a few. The former Mayor also celebrated the achievements of collaborations between organisations such as the Town Council and Farnham Maltings and the many partnerships formed to ensure efficient and effective outcomes for the Farnham community. 

Also speaking at the reception was Mark Markiewicz, Chief Executive at Waverley Abbey House, Dr Ed Wernick, the lead GP in Farnham’s vaccination service and Gavin Stride, director of the Farnham Maltings who said: “It may have surprised many people to see Farnham Maltings being a key partner in coordinating the response to COVID but given our mission is to improve the quality of life for the people of Farnham it would have been absurd to shut our doors and do nothing at the very point our community needed us most. We worked with Farnham Town Council and a huge range of voluntary organisations to find shared solutions to local challenges. If I have learnt anything from the past 18 months it is the truth that, now more than ever, we need to stay connected to each other if we are to flourish.”

Dr Wernick spoke about the successful Farnham vaccination service and gave special thanks to the rota of volunteers and vaccinators. He explained how it is thanks to the volunteers that the programme will continue in September with booster vaccinations. Speaking after the reception, he later said: “Farnham at its best! It was great to see and thank so many of the amazing volunteers who have helped and supported the community during the pandemic. It was also a further example of the coming together of the NHS, Town Council and charitable organisations. This has been a standout success from my perspective and hopefully one of the legacies we can continue to nurture going forward.”

As well as the heartfelt thanks of the Mayor and former Mayor on behalf of Farnham’s whole community, the volunteers – including those who were unable to attend – have been awarded a certificate and commemorative badge as a token of appreciation. Representing the wider Farnham volunteer community, Keith Roberts, Sue Keogh and Erin Beasley, who were all instrumental in Farnham’s volunteer welfare response to the pandemic received a specially commissioned vase, created by local ceramicist Lucy Burley. Jo Michaelides, who was unable to be present, was also commended and will be presented with a vase.

The evening was supported by Farnham Town Council, Farnham Maltings, the Farnham Vaccination Service, Waitrose and the NHS primary care trust.   

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