Drop-in centre organiser delighted to be named Local Hero

JPCT-12-10-11 S11420249a west sussex county times, community awards 2011, horsham, local hero  -photo by steve cobb
JPCT-12-10-11 S11420249a west sussex county times, community awards 2011, horsham, local hero -photo by steve cobb
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A lady with learning difficulties was applauded for her ‘big heart’ when she won the Local Hero award last year.

Joanne Pratt, 38, was recognised for setting up a drop-in centre for people with learning difficulties in March 2011.

Alison Bacon, who nominated Joanne, said she was extremely gratified by making the nomination.

“I can’t describe how wonderful she thought the award was,” she said. “You never know how things go when you nominate. I wasn’t sure whether I should or not but now I have seen what they are about, it’s so worth it.

“I’ve never thought of putting someone into any award but there are lots of deserving people who need to be recognised.

“I sometimes think there’s not enough taking notice of people like her. That’s what I love about the award. It takes notice of people with a good heart.

“Those are the people who deserve awards.

“The evening was so well organised and you can tell all those nominated for awards were pleased to be there and humbled by it.”

The drop-in centre Joanne set up in Tythe Barn, Pondtail Road, is run by people with learning difficulties and their supporters, giving all the workers and visitors there a chance to meet friends in a relaxed


Anne-Marie Sweet, Joanne’s support worker, said Joanne has been more confident ever since getting the huge recognition she deserved during the award ceremony at the Capitol Theatre in October 2011.

“I think winning that award gave her a great sense of achievement and pride,” Anne-Marie said.

“It really did boost her confidence.

“Everyone needs a pat on tha back throughout their lives and that was the biggest pat she ever got.”

The award ceremony was an emotional affair for Joanne, her family, and Alison.

“I knew she was going to win but they didn’t tell her or her family,” Alison explained, “so what I really loved was how much she was applauding everyone else and saying how wonderful everyone was, so I was choking it back thinking ‘you are going to be one of them’.

“She knows she has a learning disability so she was aware she got extra award for something she was doing herself.

“She does so much, setting up this drop-in and giving up her time. She gets so much out of helping others and for her to get any award was brilliant.”

Who should you nominate?

To nominate an individual, group or organisation for a Community Award is both quick and easy, as well as rewarding.

Simply fill in the form below, and return with your reasons for nominating them on a separate piece of paper to the address provided. Nominations can be made under different categories and multiple nominations are encouraged. The judging panel, chaired by the paper’s Editor, will take both the quality and quantity of nominatioins into account when determining the 2012 shortlist later this year.

All those shortlisted for an award, as well as those who nominated them, will be offered complimentary tickets to the Community Awards, held in association with Horsham District Council, at The Capitol theatre on November 20.