More than sixty local organisations and charities were invited by Tooting MP Sadiq Khan to the historic State Rooms of the Speaker’s House, in the Houses of Parliament, for a community celebration. The occasion was one of the first in its kind for Wandsworth organisations and residents, many of whom had never been to Parliament before.
Organisations present included Wandsworth Radio, South London Swimming Club, Wandsworth Foodbank, representatives from local mosques, temples and churches, Balham and Tooting Community Association (BATCA), Wandsworth Older People’s Forum and Furzedown Community Network.
As well as thanking everyone present for their dedication to making Wandsworth such a fantastic place to live, Sadiq Khan MP presented six residents with ‘Community Heroes’ awards for going above and beyond for their communities. The awards were presented by the Mayor of Wandsworth and Mr Speaker John Bercow, and were awarded to:
Tom Arms – Akela for Wandsworth 1st Scouts, and instrumental in the campaign to save the Romany Scout Hut, in Wandsworth Common.
Suzanne Ellis – Chair of Furzedown Community Network, and community leader in the Furzedown area
Steve Pinto – Chair of Wandsworth Chamber of Commerce and champion of small businesses across the borough
Fred Ahmed – Metropolitan Police Special in the Wandsworth and Tooting areas for over 30 years, and founding member of BATCA
Rev Sue Clarke – Reverend at St Paul’s Church, Furzedown, who also helped establish the Wandsworth Foodbank based at the church
Geoff Simmons – founder of the Summerstown 182 project, who has played a leading role in Wandsworth’s World War One centenary remembrance events
Organisations were also encouraged to network and to build connections with groups they can work with in the future.
Sadiq Khan MP said:
“I was delighted when the Speaker agreed to grant me permission to use his State Rooms to host this unique event. These historic rooms provided beautiful surroundings for celebrating the best of community in Tooting and across Wandsworth.
“This is the first time we have ever been able to get so many locally-based community organisations, and their volunteers, together in one room, and what a success it has been!
“We are really fortunate to have so many Community Heroes here in Wandsworth, and it was great to be able to thank them for all their hard work and recognise those who really do go above and beyond for our community.”
Geoff Simmons, award winner said:
“I feel so proud to have been chosen as one of the Community Heroes at the Houses of Parliament last night. It was enough to just be in that gathering and meet all the people doing such great things in our area, but to be picked out for an award in such company was incredible. Many congratulations to Sadiq Khan for putting together an occasion which everyone who was there will remember for a very long time.”
Steve Pinto, award winner, said:
"I was delighted to accept the Hero in the Community award from Mr John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons, The Worshipful Mayor of Wandsworth, Cllr. Mr Stuart Thom and the RT Hon Mr Sadiq Khan. The success of Wandsworth Chamber of Commerce is the result of a team effort and I am sure the board and our members will support me in sharing this recognition and offering our thanks and appreciation to Sadiq for thinking of us in this light.”
Deborah Ballinger-Mills, Friends of Tooting Common, who attended the event, said:
“The best thing for me was being in the company of so many people in our community who are dedicated to and passionate about making life better for others. I met some really interesting people and learned about terrific projects that I had no idea existed. Hearing from the Speaker - who speaks well! - was icing on the cake."