A BERWICK woman’s commitment to the young people of Berwick has earned her the community champion accolade at the Pride of Northumberland awards.
Debra Jerdan has spent the last 14 years supporting hundreds of young people in her role of team leader at Berwick Youth Project.
The 44-year-old is also a detachment commander of Berwick Detachment, Northumbria Army Cadet Force.
Although she parades with the cadets for four hours a week, she spends much of her time studying, preparing lessons and attending community events with the cadets.
Debra was nominated for the award by her husband Graeme.
He said: “She is very passionate about encouraging young people to volunteer in the community and uses herself as an example of how volunteering can change lives.
“She brings structure, purpose and learning to young people’s lives and enjoys seeing them succeed. Debra is a role model to young people and to others in our community. I am so proud of her achievements, her dedication and her commitment to working with the young people of the town.”
On receiving the award, Debra, said: “I am just so shocked. I did not expect to be nominated let alone win the award. I can not put it into words how much this means to me. I would like to say a massive thank you to my husband for his support.”
Also nominated were 72-year-old Clive Raper for his efforts in running activities at New Hartley Memorial Hall and his services during the 150th anniversary of the Hartley pit disaster. Doreen Morton, 64, of Cramlington, was shortlisted for organising a big clean-up in Parkside Glade, Cramlington, as part of the Love Northumberland campaign.
Making green choices and helping improve his community for the better earned Belford’s Brian Rogers the green champion crown.
The 57-year-old and a team of volunteers transformed an overgrown and neglected part of Belford and created a new woodland to mark the Queen’s diamond jubilee earlier this year.
Ivy had become so invasive, it was pulling down trees and strangling growth on others, which resulted in tees becoming weak and, with high winds, the trees were crashing down into the Belford Burn and blocking the flow, causing potential problems for the village flood defences.
Northumberland County Council, who own the land, did not have the money to undertake a programme of thinning so Belford environmental champion Brian suggested that there were chainsaw-qualified people in Belford, who would take down the thin trees and the dense blackthorn that were causing the problems.
He suggested that there could be a partnership between the county council and volunteers from Belford who wanted the area to look beautiful. In March, representatives from groups in the village planted a tree and many residents gathered to watch the creation of the new woodland. Everyone agreed it was a real community event.
The trees, once felled, were stripped of branches and the main timber was cut into metre-long lengths and taken away to be stored and dried out, ready to be given back in the form of small logs to the elderly people in Belford this coming autumn.
Brian, the Belford environmental champion, contacted all the clubs and societies in the village from Scouts to the Mothers’ Union to the Churches, the football team and schools to ask if they would like to buy a tree for the woodland – and all agreed.
Twenty-five trees were planted and future plans are to install gates on Croft Field and South Road and link them with a meandering woodland walk alongside the Belford Burn.
The woodland will then be planted with woodland bulbs and flowers. Brian said: “I am overwhelmed. I did not know anything about the award, it was a surprise. It means a lot to accept this on behalf of the other people in the village.”
Also nominated were Student Voice Team, a group of 13 to 18-year-olds at The King Edward VI School in Morpeth, for supporting Morpeth and Northumbria in Bloom. Target North Hirst were nominated for their work in improving the Hirst area of Ashington.