The award of Townsperson of the Year is unique to Wetherby and something which Wetherby does rather well.
There is a democratic selection process in which there is always a worthy winner but never a loser.
Every year the Wetherby Lions Club requests nominations for the award from members of the public and the winner is chosen by a small committee consisting of the President of Wetherby Lion; the Wetherby Town Mayor, and the winner of the award from the previous year.
The winner, selected from the nominations, is the person deemed to have done most for the community within the past year.
There is only one winner (except on the few occasions when joint nominations have been made) and the list of other nominations is a well-kept secret.
It’s a tried and tested system which has always worked well and produced worthy winners – some for their work within larger organisations and some who have worked on their own.
The idea was originally conceived by the Lions some 20 or 25 years ago. Without exception, all the recipients of the award have deemed it to be a great honour – and so it is. Politics doesn’t enter into the award and there are no official duties and no real prize other than a certificate.
Normally the presentation has been made at the Wetherby Pram Race, but this year is different. The Pram Race would have clashed with the Jubilee celebrations and was cancelled. This year the presentation had to be postponed to a later date and made before a much smaller audience and just before the start of the August meeting of Wetherby Town Council.
The Townsperson of the Year is Claire Stubbs.
It was a complete surprise to Claire when Mike Earle, President of Wetherby Lion, knocked on the door and told her that she had won the award.
Claire always has a smile on her face and has time for everyone.
She’s become expert at juggling a busy family life with a full-time job and her duties within Wetherby Sports Association of which she has been secretary since 2006 when she took over from her father, Robin Johnston.
She was Secretary/Treasurer of Wetherby Athletic Football Club Juniors long before that and is now Club Secretary of the seniors.
At the weekend she often arrives at the Sports Association at seven o’clock in the morning – there are less interruptions to her work then.
She has minutes to write, the once weekly football fines to sort out; child protection forms (she is the club CRB officer as well).
The Wetherby Sports Association is always a busy place. Based there are the six senior teams of Wetherby Athletic FC; the junior teams for boys and girls from four to 17; Wetherby Bulldogs Rugby League; Wetherby Runners; Petanque and Wetherby Wheelers. There are bar and café areas and often special social and charity events. Claire always seems to be at the heart of it all and to know everyone.
Over the last couple of years the Claire and the WSA have increasingly become involved in community events such as the town bonfire. When the early plans for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee were in danger of stalling because original ideas for venues were deemed unsuitable; it was Claire, as a member of the Jubilee organising committee who adopted a positive attitude and offered facilities at the WSA.
Not content with that, she also organised a band of volunteers to help – and then played a substantial role in obtaining sponsorship.
There were many other people who helped or took charge of specific tasks but it was Claire’s skills of co-ordinating them and making their contributions feel valuable and needed which were really of value.
Claire is now Townsperson of the Year in recognition of the work she has done for the community. It won’t make much difference to her. If there is a task to be done or problem to be solved, you’ll find Claire there lending a helping hand.
All this between ferrying sons Josh and Sam to football matches or golf; taking dog Max for a walk and the other tasks generated by a happy and busy family.
After talking about Claire and her busy life, I feel almost ashamed to mention a blindfold walk with a guide dog which I’ve been challenged to make tomorrow. Originally the intention was just to try to experience the problems of the blind and the wonderful dogs which lead them around and to write about the experience afterwards. But while I’m doing it, I thought it might as well be a sponsored walk in aid of Guide Dogs for the Blind. Donations to http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/WalkInMyShoes