One of the pleasures of doing a job like mine is that you get to meet people from all walks of life who have dedicated themselves to working to bring improvements to their local community.
Some work in our community centres, or help provide better facilities for young people. Others might set up lunch clubs for the elderly or establish local residents’ associations. Sometimes they fulfil more strategic roles such as encouraging, organising and training other people to volunteer or working on local partnerships with residents, businesses, the council, the police, community groups and faith communities to help improve local services.
The most remarkable thing about Judy, who tonight was awarded the Freedom of the Borough is that she performs all of these roles and many others for our local community.
Many thousands of people will have been helped by people like this but most often those helped know nothing about the identity and roles of those who have worked so hard to provide the services they need.
Which is why tonight’s celebrations gave me so much pleasure as it presented me with the chance to recognise and pay tribute to the remarkable achievements of Judy Smith MBE.