By Emily Bell. Chair of Trustees.
We were so proud this week when two members of the Ark Community were recognised by Shrewsbury Mayor, Elisabeth Roberts, in the 2023 Mayor's Awards.
Ursula Howells is one of our support workers and was nominated in the "Community" category, by a client of the Ark, who said "Ursula deeply cares about the homeless and vulnerable and does everything she can to support them and encourage them on better pathways to recovery and rehoming. "
Michael John Randall, Randall to his many friends, is a long standing client of the Ark, visiting daily for breakfast and lunch and to feed his beloved pigeons. He was nominated, for the "Environment" category, by a member of the public, who said: "Randall is seen around many parts of the Town on his bicycle or with his trolley collecting litter and then conveying it to the Battlefield Recycling Centre. Here he is known by all the staff as he visits almost every day, sometimes two or three times. Staff tell of him arriving on his bicycle laden with bags of litter which he has sorted and then places in the collecting bays. He has been seen to deliver broken furniture and even a double mattress which have been fly-tipped - indeed literally anything he finds littering our streets. A local character who has spent many years of his life clearing the streets of rubbish to the point that it occupies every moment of his days."
I was honoured to be asked to accompany Ursula to the Theatre Severn on Tuesday to witness her collect her certificate. It was a truly uplifting evening celebrating the many unsung heroes of our town, who work tirelessly across many sectors to make Shrewsbury the wonderful place it is.
Unfortunately Randall couldn't make it to the official ceremony, so we asked the Mayor if she would pay a visit to present it to him in the Ark and the following day she came along to surprise him with his certificate.
It's hard to imagine two more deserving members of the Ark family than Ursula and Randall and a visit from the mayor to recognise these two fabulous human beings was a real buzz for the day centre, with everyone basking in their reflective glory!
We are big fans of the outgoing Mayor, Elisabeth Roberts, who as been a hugely positive influence in the town for the past 12 months. With her signature good humour and "can do" attitude, she also officially unveiled volunteer Keiran's new invention "The Water Boiler Plinth", which makes the essential task of preparing the hundreds of cups of tea and coffee we make each day so much quicker!
She also gave a coverted mayoral badge to the fabulous Adrian (Curly), in recognition of his long-term service as a volunteer to the Ark (over 10 years!).
We have been extremely lucky to have such an inspirational mayor over the past 12 months. Elisabeth (and her "mini mayor") have done much to shine a light on the struggles of families of children and young people with autism and other neurological conditions (diagnoses that many of our clients are familiar with.)
We hope she will continue to visit us at the Ark after she hands on her golden chain. It's clear that she will continue to be a positive force in our community and we wish her all the best and look forward to seeing what she does next.....