Recognition for Honiton women in New Year Honours List

A driving force of health and wellbeing initiatives in Honiton and a gymnastics coach have been recognised in the New Year Honours List.

Heather Penwarden is to receive the British Empire Medal (BEM) for her work as chair of The League of Friends of Honiton Hospital and for services to the community.

Helen Reddy is to receive an OBE for her services to educational gymnastics.

Heather, the figurehead of Honiton Dementia Action Alliance and the town’s acclaimed Memory Café, is a tireless advocate for those with dementia and their families. She is also a stalwart of the WI.

In her role with the League of Friends, she has been keen to emphasise the work carried out in the community as well as the local hospital.

Heather said: “I have to admit I am still feeling a bit stunned by it all. It is a real honour to be awarded a British Empire Medal and I am very proud to be flying a flag for Honiton and Devon WI.

“My community is my passion and all my work is about empowering individuals and groups to support each other and those around them through compassion, kindness and a sharing of skills.
Honiton Hospital and Community League of Friends, Honiton Memory Cafe, Honiton Dementia Action Alliance and Honiton Admiral Nurse are shinning examples of what great works can be achieved by many volunteers offering something of themselves for the good of others.
“With over 6,000 members, Devon WI is and amazing fellowship of women who are dedicated to having fun, learning new skills, campaigning on matters of huge importance to us all  and most importantly supporting each other and their communities through the ups and downs of life.
“I am extremely privileged to be closely involved with all these organisations and every day see examples of individuals giving quietly and selflessly of themselves for the benefit of others. It is really good that these unsung community heroes are recognised amongst the rich and famous in the New Year’s Honours list.
“I wish that more could be given awards and I feel very humbled to be one of the few who has been singled out to represent the many in receiving this BEM.”

Heather’s voluntary work was honoured in 2018 by Honiton and District Chamber of Commerce. Honiton Dementia Action Alliance recently received the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.

Also honoured is  Helen Louise Reddy, of Honiton Gymnastics Club. She is to receive an OBE. The honour is for services to Educational Gymnastics in Devon.

A former gymnast, she is a teacher at Ivybridge Community College where she is Head of Performing Arts, Head of the Gymnastics Academy and a former Director of Sport.

Helen said on Honiton Gymnastic Club’s website: “This is a huge privilege and something that I never dreamed of being awarded.

“Gymnastics has been a major part of my life for the past 37 years and something I love, so to be recognised in this way is an absolute honour.”

She is a Level 5 gymnastics coach, a tutor and internal verifier for British Gymnastics, and also a gymnastics lecturer on the Exeter University PGCE course.

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