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NALC Council of the Year Award Submission 2021

Farnham Town Council has a proven track record of creativity, innovation, partnership and collaboration. Achievements in 2020 show significant success despite uncertainties and challenges from the coronavirus pandemic.

Coronavirus Support

The Town Council formed the Farnham Coronavirus Coordinating Group (now continuing as Farnham Connects) with community-based cultural organisation Farnham Maltings and other community groups. It created a safeguarded framework and co-ordinated 500 volunteers who managed a helpline and community response supporting over 1800 people with shopping, prescription collections and friendly phone calls. The objective was to create sustainable long-term community-based support and it has become the Farnham Neighbours’ Network. Alongside this, the Farnham Coronavirus Support Fund was established raising £67,000 to support residents facing pandemic hardship. The Town Council’s staff built a temporary Covid-19 assessment centre at Farnham Hospital in April 2020 enabling those with Covid-19 symptoms to be separated from other patients and over 200 Town Council volunteers have underpinned the successful vaccine rollout. See the Farnham Coronavirus Support Fund video.

Business Support

The high street was supported through a new partnership with We Are Farnham, a digital marketplace for local shops, and regular updates were sent to all businesses with information on a range of support.

Farnham in Bloom

The Town Council, working alongside Surrey County Council, installed planters in the town centre to widen pavements for social distancing. This was part of the award-winning Farnham In Bloom, which planted 26,000 plants and 200 hanging baskets in the town and surrounding villages, and again won Gold in a number of categories and an invitation to Britain in Bloom 2021. Community participation underpins Farnham in Bloom and the Town Council organised lockdown activities, including creating a Lego garden, making scarecrows, an art project and a Secret Gardens competition, and Covid-compliant volunteer opportunities. See the Farnham in Bloom 2020 video and judging portfolio.


The Town Council reshaped its programme of events within Covid rules, including:

  • Farmers’ markets restarted in May 2020 with social-distancing measures in place (a model followed by other market organisers) and additional art and craft markets were held to support the re-opening of the high street.
  • Music in the Meadow restarted in August – the only free live music programme in the area setting a benchmark for socially-distanced outdoor music, with pre-booked socially-distanced bubbles painted on the grass.
  • Remembrance Sunday service was broadcast successfully online for residents, with veterans and serving personnel invited to a service at Farnham’s War Memorial. Poppies were painted on the grass for attendees’ social-distancing.  
  • The Town Council organised a ‘Beacons-of-Light’ show as an alternative to the Christmas lights switch-on. Eight beams of light swept across the sky above Farnham and surrounding villages to represent the coming together of the Farnham community during 2020 and hopes for a brighter 2021. The Civic Christmas Carol Service was pre-recorded and available for the public to watch on YouTube.

World Craft Town

Farnham was awarded World Craft City status in March 2020 – the first town in England and only the third area in Europe to receive this accolade. The Town Council played a leading role in the successful application after several years preparation, which will now underpin place-shaping and recovery. See the World Craft Town video and application for World Craft City Status.

Farnham Neighbourhood Plan

In April 2020, Farnham’s Neighbourhood Plan, led by the Town Council, was one of the first in the country to be readopted after a review and second referendum.

Farnham Infrastructure Programme

In addition, during 2020/21 the Town Council has been leading community engagement to influence a £250m infrastructure regeneration programme to transform travel and overcome congestion and air pollution in Farnham. Surrey County Council, Waverley Borough Council, Farnham Town Council and Jeremy Hunt MP have built on excellent relationships to develop a strategic vision and an infrastructure plan. The Town Council has brought its strong local knowledge and community links to consult and engage. 13 well-attended online consultation events with webinars, live streamed to YouTube and Facebook and targeted through a range of print and online communications, were held during the autumn and winter of 2020/21.

Working above and beyond expectations

Innovative thinking led to a partnership with a local taxi company whereby DBS checked drivers were employed by the Town Council to support the most vulnerable during lockdown. In addition, discussions were held with supermarkets to create a volunteer card for deliveries to vulnerable people. The Town Council underwrote a customer not present system where volunteers did the shopping, and paid for the goods and the self isolating person paid for the goods over the phone to Farnham Town Council who then refunded the volunteer.

These achievements demonstrate Farnham as an active, adaptable, high-achieving and forward-thinking star council.

Aerial photo of Farnham
A Covid-19 VaxOmeter showing vaccination of the farnham community by age
Covid-19 VaxOmeter showing vaccination of the Farnham community by age

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