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We are very pleased to announce that Helen Baker has received a top Somerset Award – the Somerset County Council’s Chairman’s Award for Service to the Community.

The Award was presented to Helen by the Chairman of Somerset County Council, Councillor Mrs Christine Lawrence at a reception, attended by some 250 people from throughout the county, at Taunton Rugby Club on 20th October 2016.

Helen is the first resident of Woolavington to receive this Award and the citation read at the reception is as follows:-

“Helen Baker first became involved with the village youth club as a helper when her daughter joined in 2011/12. When the leader left in the autumn of 2012 she was appointed to run the youth club with another parent, on a trial basis for four months. The Club rapidly increased in popularity and quickly attracted the maximum number of young people that could be accommodated. The young people were encouraged to choose a modern name for the Club and it became known as “Flare”.

Through this period Helen has studied for youth work qualifications in her own time and in 2015 achieved a Level 3 qualification and earlier this year successfully obtained Safe and Welcoming status for the Flare Youth Club. She has worked with the Somerset Rural Youth Project as an Outreach Worker engaging with difficult to reach young people on the large social housing estate in the village and has plans to open a second youth club in this area. She is now writing a Woolavington Parish Youth Plan to identify issues faced by young people in Woolavington and how they might be resolved.

Following a successful funding bid, Helen operated a Job Club in the Village Hall from 2013 to 2015, assisting people seeking employment with their applications, cv’s etc and in 2014 she was appointed as Community Worker for Woolavington in connection with the Big Local Lottery project for Puriton and Woolavington raising awareness of the scheme, seeking community participation and compiling information on the needs of the village. She went on to being appointed to serve on the Project Management Committee.

Helen serves on the Village Hall Management Committee and when the job of caretaker became vacant she filled the position for a period.

She also joined the Playing Fields Association and encouraged members of Flare to become involved in a project to refurbish the play area adjacent to the village hall. This input helped with the success of grant applications and a £69,000 modern play area was installed catering for the needs of a wide age range of young people. The play area received an award as best play area in Somerset by the Somerset Playing Fields’ Association in 2015. She is also involved in the early stages of a plan to redesign the Pavilion on the sports field so as to provide more facilities for young residents.

In 2015 Helen introduced an annual Young Citizen of the Year Award, announced at the Village Show, to recognize the positive work of our young people and one of her recent innovations has been the setting up of a Woolavington Youth Council.

She submits reports to each meeting of the Parish Council and Members are always impressed with the standard of her work, her energy and of her efforts on behalf of the youth of the village.

Helen is a very valuable member of the community and is always keen to assist with village projects in any way she can"