08 Mar St Neots Initiative makes history at launch event
On Friday 3rd March, local business and community leaders joined a historic and memorable event to celebrate the relaunch of St Neots Initiative – the independent, community led organisation committed to making St Neots a better place to live, work and play.
212 individuals attended the formal evening event at Wyboston Lakes, including representatives from a diverse range of local businesses and charity organisations, as well the new town Sports Assembly and a multitude of young entrepreneurs. Local MP Jonathan Djanogly, the Chair of Cambridgeshire County Council Stephen Ferguson, and the Mayor of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority Dr Nik Johnson also attended the event. The Mayor of St Neots Ben Pitt, who also attended the event, stated that St Neots Town Council were proud to support the St Neots Initiative and looked forward to working together.
The flagship event marked the first time in recent history that so many locally engaged individuals came together to showcase their commitment to the town, and the evening was deemed to be an incredible success.
Raising the profile of SNI
The unique launch event was designed to raise awareness of St Neots Initiative and showcase its purpose, whilst also sharing its alignment to Anthropy, the national, independent group of like-minded change-makers. Having aligned its strategic plan to Anthropy’s four pillars of focus; people, place, prosperity and principles, the volunteer team behind St Neots Initiative are driven to ensuring the St Neots community grows and works together to make meaningful change.
The launch event was a testament to the power of community and the commitment of its members to create a brighter future.
Chair of St Neots Initiative, Alex Hughes, said;
St Neots Initiative is all about uniting people and asking the right people the right questions to create a force for good. Friday’s event was a game-changer! It brought together a group of individuals who are now activated and fully aware of our vision. The next step is to combine everyone’s expertise and efforts towards our strategic goals. We firmly believe that our local citizens are the driving force behind change, with organisations and government playing a vital role in enabling and supporting them.
Unsung Hero Awards
As an independent organisation, St Neots Initiative is set to work alongside everyone in St Neots – individual residents, businesses, and charitable organisations – towards these shared goals. Unsung heroes within the St Neots community were also celebrated at the event, with three awards presented on the night.
- The Sue Jarrett Award for Services to the Community was won by Chris Charlton for his dedication to the St Neots community, including his Trusteeship at St Neots & District Voluntary Welfare Association, Rotary Club membership and Easton United Charities. Commendations were awarded to Liz Owen of Access in St Neots who dedicates herself to being a Champion of Inclusion in St Neots, and local father Alexis Ellison who provides support to a man with Autism and also carries out voluntary work in other areas within St Neots. Sue Jarrett was well known to many in St Neots for her commitment to Eaton Socon Community Association, and SNI developed this award in her memory in 2022.
- The John McDonnell Award recognises those who give their time freely in the world of sport by supporting their respective clubs. The winner of this award was Geoff Watts for his life-long voluntary work for St Neots Hockey Club, encouraging and nurturing young people to take up sport through is role as a teacher at a local secondary school. A commendation was also awarded to Barry Cavilla who is a very familiar face in the local sporting world. Having been involved in football and cricket from playing to boardroom he is undoubtedly one of the most dedicated people to the clubs he works with. Barry is a cornerstone of our community and is recognised as such. This award was named in honour of local resident John McDonnell who passionately supported local sport and encouraged others to do the same.
- The John Davies Award recognises service to the community by an individual outside of their usual role. The winner of this award was Liz Davies, the passionate and dedicated Curator of St Neots Museum and local advocate for volunteering and events. Two commendations were also given to Steve Whitney, co-founder of Walk and Talk 4 Men the largest mental health walking group for men, for his unswerving work to help improve mental health for men, and Ste Greenall the legendary morning DJ on Black Cat radio, for giving a voice to hundreds of local people over his years on the air. Both shortlisted candidates also provide support to various groups within St Neots. This award was named in honour of previous SNI Chairman John Davies who held the role for 16 years from 2000 to 2016.
These awards signify the beginning of SNI’s plans for an Annual Awards programme for the town.
Impact of the launch event
The event was organised by a team of dedicated volunteers, who expertly connected the diverse room full of people, resulting in a powerful and impactful event.
Speaking to others involved in this key event:
Commercial Director of St Neots Town Football Club, Dan Dodson said; “Friday was one of the best events I’ve ever been to. It was incredibly special to have 200 local people together to share in the common goal to make St Neots a better place to live, work and play. Everyone left their silos at the door to come together to make sure St Neots was at the heart of the conversation. I was proud to share my vision for sport to the entire room, and for people to be so engaged was an utter privilege. I can’t wait to see where SNI goes from here.”
“I was thrilled with the turnout and the enthusiasm shown by everyone who attended,” said Debbie Phillips, Secretary of St Neots Initiative “Having attended the inspiring Anthropy in November and following nearly four years in my role at SNI, it has long been my passion to hold an inclusive, community-led event like this. The event exceeded my expectations and I feel proud to have been part of the team to bring our town together.”
Curator of St Neots Museum and winner of the John Davies award, Liz Davies said: “What a fantastic event the St Neots Initiative relaunch dinner was, it was a real pleasure to meet up with so many colleagues and friends at a social event and to have the opportunity to meet so many new contacts. The evening was a real tribute to the networking skills of Alex Hughes and the organisational skills of his St Neots Initiative and Shift Momentum teams. Let’s do it all again next year!”
Membership for St Neots Initiative is now open to all St Neots citizens and organisations. Individual membership is free, with a small fee attached to corporate membership (based on the number of employees within the business).
The SNI team encourages all those based in the town to join, to have their voice heard and to be part of future development opportunities in the town. Find out more on the SNI website (www.stneotsinitiative.org.uk) or access the latest news on Facebook and Instagram.