The Awards

The Pride of Bracknell Forest Awards were started in 2005 to celebrate the achievements of the community, in areas from charity through to sports and education. They continue to identify those exceptional individuals and groups which make significant contributions to the quality of life in the region.

The Awards have been running ever since to give the recognition that these individuals - and the community more widely - so richly deserve, and to encourage others to get involved in an enormously promising area.

Bracknell itself is at the heart of Europe's 'Tech Valley' and makes a major contribution to the South East economy, which is second only to London in terms of its financial output. But it is the people of the surrounding area that help make the quality of life in the region better for so many others.

The categories for the 2018 Awards were as follows:

  1. The John Nike Pride of Bracknell Forest - Young Person's Award
  2. The John Nike Pride of Bracknell Forest - Adult Award
  3. School of the Year
  4. Teacher of the Year
  5. Business of the Year
  6. Health and Sport - Young Person's Award
  7. Health and Sport - Adult Award
  8. Charity of the Year
  9. Volunteer of the Year
  10. Team of the Year
  11. Special Award

Plans for next year's awards are underway and will be announced in due course. Finalists and representatives from local schools, businesses and volunteer groups will be invited to help celebrate our heroes.

Madison Page Sandlowski 180486 Pride of Bracknell Awards 2018 at Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst - Pictures: Mike Swift
cropped pobfa image

The 2018 Awards

The Pride of Bracknell Forest Awards took place on Friday 27th April 2018 at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.

Attendees enjoyed a glittering black-tie evening of dining and entertainment to suit all generations. Former Welsh international footballer and BBC Radio Berkshire presenter, Ady Williams, and co-presenter Andrew Peach were the evening’s hosts, with entertainment from local school choirs and the Sandhurst & District Corp of Drums.

In 2018, there were 13 Awards given, with sponsors including Boehringer Ingelheim, Content Guru, Honda, Jemca Group, Nike Group, Panasonic, Redwood Technologies Group, Shorts Group, Technogym and Waitrose.

The winners and runners up are as follows:

The John Nike Pride of Bracknell Forest – Young Person’s Award

This Award recognises the achievements of those who are under 18 from the Bracknell Forest area who have been involved in any inspirational action.

Winner – Madison Page Sadlowski

Since being diagnosed with alopecia totalis AU, Madison has been an inspiration to her peers, setting up an awareness page on Facebook to connect with and support other people suffering with any form of hair loss. Despite having time off school to deal with her illness, Madison is achieving high academic success and has returned to cheerleading, having recently been cover girl of the month.

Runner-up – Josh Zeller

Josh is an active member of the Bracknell community, and is currently on the England Schools International Rugby team. He competes in both Indoor and Outdoor athletics, and plays rugby for Bracknell RFC, actively challenging himself by being a young coach.

The John Nike Pride of Bracknell Forest – Adult Award

This Award recognises the achievements and selflessness of everyone over 18 from across the region.

Winner – Lindsay Balaam

Lindsay’s son, Harry was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in 2016. She has shown great strength and optimism in the face of this adversity, and has raised over £36,700 to fund specialist monitoring equipment for the hospital in which Harry received treatment.

Runner-up – Carol Ellis

Carol, also known as Koala Bear, is the leader of 1st Warfield Rainbows and despite having been ill with cancer continues to lead the group every week, and even gives up her evenings, weekends and school holidays to take part in activities within the community with her Rainbows. She is full of enthusiasm and the girls and parents alike think she is wonderful.

School of the Year Award

This Award looks for schools that have performed exceptionally well in providing an effective and engaging learning environment for their children.

Winner – Uplands Primary School

Uplands has been recognised as an exceptional school where children are taught to high standards by caring and dedicated teachers. Support is given where needed to encourage children to achieve their highest capabilities, enabling the next generation of the community to thrive.

Runner-up – St Michaels CofE School in Sandhurst

St Michael’s won the School of the Year Award in 2017 and their nomination recognises how members of staff go above and beyond the call of duty to ensure that each and every one of its pupils is made to feel welcome, ensuring that they are in a passionate learning environment.

Teacher of the Year Award

This Award recognises teachers who go the extra mile to make the classroom an engaging environment and inspire children, from encouraging shy classmates to participate more in lessons to changing children’s outlooks on the world for the better.

Winner – James Rawson

James is the Key Stage 1 Phase Leader at Sandy Lane Primary School, being recognised for his child-focused approach to learning and commitment to the school. James inspires every pupil to achieve their potential by creating a friendly and inclusive atmosphere in his class. For instance, James taught the whole year how to sign Christmas Carols so that a pupil with Down’s syndrome who communicates via signing was included.

Runner-up – James Lacey

James is the Headteacher of Holly Spring Infant School and has had a broad influence on the school. A hands-on headteacher, James always finds time to talk to parents and has a personal relationship with every pupil including joining the ‘walking bus’ and eating his dinner in the school hall. James ensures the school is a place where every child achieves their full potential, has fun and develops a love of learning.

Business of the Year Award

This Award recognises those businesses which make outstanding contributions to the Bracknell Forest region, specifically to its people on a day-to-day basis.

Winner – Syngenta

Syngenta works to improve global food security by enabling farmers to make better use of resources. Its site in Bracknell Forest employs over 800 people and is active in partnering with local charities, including THRIVE and Thames Valley Hospice. Its outreach programme helps local pupils understand plant science and food production technology.

Runner-up – Empire Security Solutions

Empire Security Solutions Ltd has kept Bracknell residents safe for the past 15 years, providing security, management, and drug detection services to the John Nike Leisure Complex, the Après Club, and a number of community and charity events across Bracknell Forest.

Health and Sport – Young Person’s Award

This Award recognises those from the region who are under 18 and have made outstanding commitments to the fields of health and sport.

Winners – Adam Bouaziz and Ava-Mae Martell

Adam and Ava-Mae have both sustained injuries in their careers as an ice dance couple, yet they continue to show strength and optimism. Despite having a broken jaw and a fractured skull, they went on to win their category while competing in Italy.

Runner-up –Molly Kingsbury

Molly is an inspirational member of the community and is a member of the England International sports team. She represented England as a para-athlete in the Long Jump at this year’s Commonwealth Games, being the youngest athlete on the team representing England.

Health and Sport – Adult Award

This Award recognises those from the region who have made outstanding commitments to the fields of health and sport, across any relevant field.

Winner – Darren Taylor

Darren runs the Ring Amateur Boxing Club investing his own time and money to establish what is now a vital service for many children and young people in the area. He encourages positive behaviour amongst Bracknell’s youth, including self-discipline and perseverance.

Runner-up – Yasmin Taite

Yasmin is an elite tumbler who has competed in the Trampoline & Tumbling world championships and the British Championships. She is currently recovering from a fractured skull and although this has impacted her ability to compete, she hopes to channel her energy into coaching the next generation of tumblers when she is able.

Charity of the Year Award

This Award recognises the enormous contributions made to the local community by its many charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups.

Winner – Citizens Advice Bracknell & District

Citizens Advice helps local residents to resolve legal, money, housing and employment problems by providing free and confidential advice. It undertakes research and campaigns for improvements in the region, across areas like Universal Credit and the housing deposit scheme.

Runner-ups – Pilgrim Hearts

Pilgrim Hearts is a charity that helps vulnerable adults build self-esteem and confidence. It runs the Bracknell Night Shelter, which offers food and accommodation to the homeless during the winter, as well as bringing in other services such as dentists, doctors and hairdressers.

Volunteer of the Year Award

This Award recognises those who give up their time voluntarily to make enormous contributions to the betterment of the community in Bracknell Forest.

Winner – Peter Hulbert

Peter has been an outstanding member of the community, spending an average of two days per week volunteering. Not only has he been a trustee and treasurer of Sandhurst Counselling Services for 7 years, Peter is also a co-ordinator of St Michael’s churchyard and the driver for Sandhurst & Owlsmoor Voluntary Care.

Runner-up – Karen Watkins

Karen spends much of her free time volunteering in the local community, making her a worthy finalist for the Awards. As well as her position as Governor of The Pines School, Bracknell, Karen also helps out in Hanworth Community Association as the Treasurer and is crucial to the success of the charity.

Team of the Year Award

This Award identifies groups from the region who have made outstanding commitments to the community or deserve recognition for their achievements.

Winner – Bracknell Forest Lions Club

Bracknell Forest Lions Club is a local group of volunteers working hard to raise money and support those in need locally, nationally and globally. They have been actively transforming the community through charity fund-raising events.

Runner-up – Small Time Play Group

Small Time Play Group is a free-to-attend club that enables children to make friends and discover new interests. The staff have been highly praised for their caring support and entertainment of the children through music, arts and crafts, while the adults are occupied each week with coffee and cake.

Special Awards

Winner - Julie Pratt

julie has run the Priestwood under 5s group voluntarily for over 20 years alongside her husband. She gives up her time outside of her full time job as a child minder and was a school governor for many years. She was nominated 27 times by members of the public and has been described as one in a million, a truly great spirit in our community, a shoulder to cry on when needed and a credit to the community.

Winner - David Horkan

David has played a big part in the health and wellbeing of the local community through his role as a pharmacist at Bullbrook Pharmacy. He has been praised by locals for his extraordinary kindness and helpfulness, going above and beyond the call of duty, and his amazing knowledge, being nominated over 20 times by members of the public. He has been described as full of cheer, bursting with positive energy and generous of spirit.

Winner - Tina Varns

Tina is a veteran of the Awards and a true asset to our local community. She moved into Waitrose in 2003 part-time leading the Community Investment strategy where she developed and launched the flagship Community Matters scheme that celebrates its 10th birthday this year. She moved to the newly created CSR team responsible for leading the ‘Treating People Fairly’ pillar of the Waitrose Way and has developed a wide range of successful programmes to tackle key social issues from food poverty, to the Grow & Sell classroom kits reaching 430,000 children over 5 years. She took the lead to help tackle loneliness with the launch of the Isolation Campaign during Christmas 2013 by providing money and resource for lunches for vulnerable people in our communities. Tina's 32 years’ service have had a strong focus on helping people in the community and she will leave a tremendous legacy behind her.

The 2017 Awards

The Pride of Bracknell Forest Awards took place on Friday 21st April 2017 at Bracknell & Wokingham College.

Attendees enjoyed a glittering black-tie evening of dining and entertainment to suit all generations. Former Welsh international footballer and BBC Radio Berkshire presenter, Ady Williams, and co-presenter Andrew Peach were the evening’s hosts, with guests including David and Frankie Seaman.

In 2017, ten Awards were up for grabs, with sponsors including Redwood Technologies, Waitrose, Panasonic, Honda, Boehringer, Shorts Group, Content Guru, Appledore, SAR Transport, Laithwaites, and Bracknell and Wokingham College.

The winners and runners up are as follows:

The John Nike Pride of Bracknell Forest – Young Person’s Award

This Award recognises the achievements of those who are under 18 from the Bracknell Forest area who have been involved in any inspirational action.

Winner – Aysha Riley-Marsh

Aysha has faced various medical difficulties since birth, including reduced lung function, meningitis and scoliosis, for which she was one of the first recipients in the UK to undergo a spinal tethering operation. Aysha won the Award for her unflagging optimism in the face of such adversity. In school, she is always smiling and chatty.

Runner-up – Oliver Knight

4-year-old Oliver was born with a heart condition called hypoplastic left heart syndrome, which has left him with only half a heart and resulted in three open-heart surgeries. He gained the Runner Up title because he is such a strong little boy and has put up a fight to whatever is thrown his way.

The John Nike Pride of Bracknell Forest – Adult Award

This Award recognises the achievements and selflessness of everyone over 18 from across the region.

Winner – Julian Starkey

Julian Starkey has been the Chairman and Inspirational figure at Bracknell Athletics club for the past 6 years. Although he works full time, Julian puts in many hours every day before and after work planning training sessions and mentoring parents to help them gain their coaching qualifications. More athletes than ever are now competing at National level meetings and picking up medals, and club membership and retention rate is at its highest in the club’s history.

Runner-ups – Lyn Mitchell and Margaret Atkins

Lyn and Margaret both work in the Tesco in Martins Heron, taking their role to the next level by getting local residents of all ages involved in community activities. They have embraced community spirit by working with young people and schools, teaching them the importance of positive thinking about themselves and others, as well as setting up an afternoon tea club initiative that brings older residents together at the Tesco canteen.

School of the Year Award

This Award looks for schools that have performed exceptionally well in providing an effective and engaging learning environment for their children.

Winner – St Michaels CofE School in Sandhurst

Parents of pupils at St Michaels in Sandhurst have nominated the school because of its open minded and forward thinking environment. The school accommodates for children of all abilities and temperament, and recognises the different learning styles that are needed for individual pupils.

Runner-up – Meadow Vale Primary School

Meadow Vale Primary School has been nominated by parents for its nurturing environment where children are encouraged to become confident local citizens. With friendly and helpful teachers, pupils are challenged to ensure they reach their potential and the school’s enrichment activities cater for a wide range of tastes.

Teacher of the Year Award

This Award recognises teachers who go the extra mile to make the classroom an engaging environment and inspire children, from encouraging shy classmates to participate more in lessons to changing children’s outlooks on the world for the better.

Winner – Claire Mockridge

Claire is a Year 2 teacher at Uplands Primary School in Sandhurst, looking after pupils with a range of abilities. She has made a world of a difference to many children, improving behaviour and creating enthusiasm. She brings out the best in every pupil and has gone above and beyond, particularly for individual children with special educational needs to provide the best possible experience for them.

Runner-up – Liz Combes

Liz once said, “I’m not a mum but I have several hundred children”, summing up her attitude to her students who she has seen grow and develop over the years whilst she has been a teacher and also head of 6th form at Ranelagh school. Liz has been nominated for her genuine warmth, care and concern for her pupils.

Business of the Year Award

This Award recognises those businesses which make outstanding contributions to the Bracknell Forest region, specifically to its people on a day-to-day basis.

Winner – DSC Security

DSC Security was established in 1988, starting as a small office in Bracknell and now employs a large number of local people. At first, directors Ian Jolley and Les Rayment focused mainly on supplying and installing locks, safes, and access control equipment but over the years, have expanded and built relationships with property developers. Outside of work Les has provided foster parenting to a huge number of children and coached at Bracknell Athletics Club for many years, so DSC and its team is a company that benefits the area in many ways.

Runner-up – Canine Assisted Learning

With the help of some canine companions, Canine Assisted Learning works to improve academic achievements, along with social and emotional wellbeing of young people. The company was founded five years ago by Victoria Plumer, an animal assisted therapist, and works with a team of like-minded, experienced consultants all with a passion to improve the lives of young people with the help of highly trained school support dogs.

Health and Sport – Young Person’s Award

This Award recognises those from the region who are under 18 and have made outstanding commitments to the fields of health and sport.

Winner – Amelia Quirk

Amelia has been competing for Bracknell Athletics Club since 2014. In Summer 2016 she broke two of the oldest women's Bracknell AC track records over 1500m and 3000m replacing a former national record holder, gained gold medals at regional and national levels at 1500m and 3000m.  In November 2016 she was selected for the GB Team at the European Cross-Country Championship, finishing 10th and winning a team Gold Medal.

Runner-up – Charles Frankham

Boxer Charles ‘Boom-Boom’ Frankham is a rising 17-year-old star who won a place on the England boxing team.  Charles, who boxes in the 56kg category, has been following an intense training and sparring programme in a bid to put his name on the international map.

Health and Sport – Adult Award

This Award recognises those from the region who have made outstanding commitments to the fields of health and sport, across any relevant field.

Winner – Jim Dobinson

Jim is coach of the Bracknell and Wokingham swimming club masters team. Jim started coaching 50 years ago and dedicates a huge amount of his time to the swimmers, spending endless hours on poolside supporting the team. For many years Jim has coached the team through numerous National, European and World Championships, with medals being won by his swimmers in these major meets.

Runner-up – Jeff Retallic

Jeff is a member of Easthampstead Golf Club, part of the Downshire Golf Complex. He has spent a huge amount of his time volunteering at the club over the last 20 years, in particular working with Junior Golfers. Every Wednesday and Thursday he organises and assists with the coaching of youngsters at Downshire, and is also involved in organising matches and competitions for the children in the weekends.

Charity of the Year Award

This Award recognises the enormous contributions made to the local community by its many charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups.

Winner – Jealott’s Hill Community Landshare

The project manages a large area of land that is divided into allotments. Apart from the obvious benefit of allowing people to share allotments where they get to fulfill their love of gardening and reap the rewards of their work, the project also provides support for disabled and disadvantaged individuals to do whatever gardening they are capable of, and to enjoy the sensory and tactile experiences of a garden environment, as well as opportunities for offenders to rehabilitate through community service.

Runner-ups – Citizens Advice Bureau Bracknell

Citizens Advice Bureau Bracknell works to prevent homelessness, poverty and isolation. They help people to claim the correct benefits, stay in work, manage their money and deal with ill health and disability, which reduces their stress and improves wellbeing.  Their service is unique and makes a real difference to the lives of over 2500 local people every year.

Volunteer of the Year Award

This Award recognises those who give up their time voluntarily to make enormous contributions to the betterment of the community in Bracknell Forest.

Winner – Peter Christmas

Peter Christmas has been a volunteer in the scouting community for many years. He runs the Explorer unit for Bracknell, training youngsters to complete their Duke of Edinburgh bronze, silver and gold awards, runs the first Binfield Explorer unit and supports 1st Binfield Scout leaders to keep the group viable. In addition to this he also works relentlessly to support the South East Berkshire Gang Show each year, building the sets for the scouts and guides to perform with.

Runner-up – Rachel Eldridge

As a former gymnast, Rachel is a Bracknell & Wokingham College student, as well as a former TeamGym Gymnast and Cheerleader. She now volunteers for all of the Bracknell Gymnastics Club events and is one of the few people to regularly help with the long and arduous equipment set downs and set ups which involve 4 hours of heavy equipment lifting.

Team of the Year Award

This Award identifies groups from the region who have made outstanding commitments to the community or deserve recognition for their achievements.

Winner – Bracknell Forest Foster Carers

The 51 fostering households offer an invaluable service to children in Bracknell Forest. They offer a safe and secure home to young people in need and without them the children they care for would have to move out of the area. Fostering is a demanding job; many fostered children have challenging needs and behaviours and, of course unlike most vocations, it can be 24/7. Despite this, the carers find the time to support one another, attend training and even help talk to prospective carers at information events.

Runner-up – Silwood Park Karate

Silwood Park Karate is a local karate club based in Great Hollands Primary School. Now in their 17th year, the karate club, including the members, their families and volunteers, have raised £30,000 for local charities. These include a 24 hour training session, 10,000 katas, a half marathon and an Everest Stairclimb.

2016 Awards