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John Jay Shield awarded to respected community volunteer

Mary Parsons – a volunteer for Hamworthy Neighbourhood Watch, Poole Harbour Watch and, until recently, the Association of Poole Watches – is this year’s winner of the John Jay Shield, thanks to her “unstinting commitment” to her community.

Mayor of Poole, Councillor Ann Stribley, presented Mary with the shield at an awards ceremony hosted by the Safer Poole Partnership at Upton House on Tuesday 26 January.

For two years Mary chaired the Association of Poole Watches and it is thanks to her hard work that Poole’s watch groups are better informed about local crimes and there are better links between watch groups. The association has also supported new watch groups since Mary took on the role as chair.

Mary resigned as chair in December 2015 but put in a lot of work to make sure that the association’s good work continued under her successor.

During the past year, Mary has also continued to be active with Harbour Watch, both as their treasurer and as an active member. A fellow committee member described Mary as “incredibly energetic” and as someone who “always follows things through”.

Mayor of Poole, Councillor Ann Stribley, said: “Over the years, Mary has dedicated an enormous amount of her own time to the people of Poole and I am delighted that we are able to recognise her achievements with the John Jay Shield.

“Crime and disorder comes up time and time again as one of the issues that has the biggest negative impact on people’s lives. The efforts of Mary and our other nominees to prevent crime should not be underestimated – they have made a real difference to people’s lives and continue to do so without seeking reward.

“This is the 19th year of the John Jay Shield and the standard of nominees remains extremely high. Long may it continue.”

Mary was nominated for the John Jay Shield by Chris Beale, Chief Executive of Poole Council for Voluntary Service, who said in his nomination: “Mary has been unstinting in her commitment to the Association of Poole Watches.I am aware from colleagues involved in the association and local Watch groups that there is considerable respect for Mary. She has never missed a meeting and has taken on a great deal of responsibility as chair of the association.”

Mary was selected from seven shortlisted nominees by a panel of judges from Safer Poole, Borough of Poole and Dorset Police.

George Skinner was awarded a runner-up certificate for his work as chair of the Canford Heath Neighbourhood Watch until December 2015. In this role he worked closely with the local Safer Neighbourhood Team and Limelights Youth Club (where he is a trustee) to help tackle anti-social behaviour in the area.

Sergeant Gemma Barber was named second runner-up for her work on the Canford Heath Safer Neighbourhood Team. Gemma formed good relationships with the residents of Canford Heath as well as other organisations. She was praised in particular for her work to reduce anti-social behaviour around the Canford Heath Neighbourhood Centre. 

Four certificates of recognition were awarded to the following:

  • Neil Lovejoy – a driving instructor with Dorset Police’s Driver Awareness Scheme who used his own time to develop road safety workshops which have been rolled out to schools across Dorset.
  • The Aspen Copse Team – a group of volunteers who spent their time clearing an overgrown area in Bourne Valley. Their regular presence in the area deterred anti-social behaviour and residents reported feeling safer.
  • Police Constable Paul Cleal – an officer on the Newtown and Branksome Safer Neighbourhood Team who picks up rubbish on the streets he patrols and is always kind and professional in every situation.
  • Vickie Campbell – treasurer of Canford Heath Neighbourhood Watch who goes out of her way to support and inspire local co-ordinators in addition to representing the neighbourhood watch at a local and county level.

Councillor Karen Rampton, Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Communities and Chair of the Safer Poole Partnership Board, Borough of Poole, said: “Mary’s achievements are extensive and she has earned the respect of her community. Her work has brought people together to support each other and given them a voice. Thanks to her, residents’ community safety concerns are listened to and watch groups in Poole are well supported.

“Every year we get to hear about exceptional work carried out by local people and groups to make Poole safer and this year is no exception. All seven shortlisted nominees deserved the award but sadly there can only be one overall winner.

“Poole is a better and safer place thanks to the hard work of these selfless individuals.”

The John Jay Shield is awarded every year by the Safer Poole Partnership to the individual or group judged to have contributed the most to making Poole safer over the previous year.