BBC South Today commends Jo Fisher at Award Ceremony
By Stella Bernardi
When I saw on South Today a few weeks ago that nominations were being sought for Community Champions I thought immediately of Jo. She has made such a great difference to the lives of Fibromyalgia sufferers and generated considerable public awareness of the condition since she started the Fibromyalgia Support Group for Surrey and Sussex, not even two years ago! I have only been a member of the group for about six months but I have some idea of the amount of work and effort she has put into the formation and maintaining of the group despite her own problems.
I was delighted when I was notified that Jo had been shortlisted. I was even more delighted when Jo invited me to attend the awards ceremony with her, as her guest. We travelled to Southampton by train and taxi, by courtesy of the BBC. That was probably a mistake because we both found the train journeys very tiring and trying!
Despite that, it was a wonderful occasion. Glasses of fruit punch and orange awaited our arrival at the 5 star De Vere Harbour Hotel and we were able to chat to some of the other nominees. An accident on the M3 delayed some people so lunch was served a little later than planned. But it was worth waiting for - Silver Service, three courses, wine, coffee and mint chocolates!
After lunch came the award ceremony, hosted by Sally Taylor (from South Today). Presentations were made by Esther Rantzen. There were over 30 finalists who had been entered into the various categories of community service. The winner of each category received an engraved glass trophy whilst the rest received a certificate of commendation. Jo didn’t make it to ‘winner’ but I was really pleased for her that she was commended. There had apparently been a record number of contestants this year and the judges had a difficult task in making their selections.
It was all an uplifting experience, a privilege to see so many people who had contributed so much for the benefit of their communities. To select any by name would be unfair but to mention a few of the causes that have benefited from their generosity of time and effort might be in order:
Sussex & Kent ME/CFS Society
People with learning difficulties
Community centre near Brighton
Meals for pensioners
Well done Jo! I’m proud to know you. Thank you from all of us within the FSGSAS for all you do. May your efforts continue to be acknowledged by society at large and our condition be accepted in the medical world. We all appreciate you and all you do for us.
At Horsham’s recent AGM, Sheila Van Den Bergh, who was the Chairman of Horsham District Council, thanked nominated local volunteers from Horsham Area Community voluntary service, for making a difference to the lives of others in the local community. One of those volunteers was our very own committee member, Andy West, who is responsible for our fundraising. He was presented with a very nice framed certificate. Andy has worked tirelessly to raise the profile of the group and has achieved excellent results. We are very lucky to have him on board as one of our committee members and also as an inspiration to our members. Andy has many health problems but he never allows this to get in his way. He is always positive & cheerful and has a great sense of humour. Thank you Andy for all your hard work.
After Andy was presented with his award he was asked to give a short talk about our group. He did very well in putting our case across. Andy’s wife Lesley came along to see him presented with the award so that made it all the more special for Andy, I am sure.
The contributions of Jo Fisher, Norman Lawrence, Sandy Shepherd and Andy West were recognised at a recent Awards ceremony in Worthing. Organised by Worthing Council for Voluntary Service, volunteers from the Fibromyalgia Support Group for Surrey and Sussex were thanked for the contribution they make to the Worthing community.
Jo collected a certificate on behalf of the team of volunteers supporting the Group’s activities, and Norman, Sandy and Jo individually received a certificate in the category ‘The Extra Mile Volunteers’. Andy was awarded a certificate for the newest volunteer.
The evening was attended by over 100 volunteers nominated to receive an Award, representatives from voluntary organisations in and around the town and local dignitaries.
Sally Hiscock, Development Worker at Worthing CVS, paid special tribute to the volunteers from the Fibro Group: “I have been working with the Fibro Group for 18 months now. The commitment of the team to providing support and running such a professional organisation is staggering. Their achievements over the past two years have been entirely based on the immense efforts of a handful of volunteers. Without this kind of input to our community, many people would be isolated and struggling to cope.”
The Mayor of Worthing, Nick John, presented the certificates to volunteers and thanked them for their ongoing hard work. A drinks and buffet reception was provided by Worthing Borough Council.
Photo: Sandy Shepherd (left), Mayor Nick John, Jo Fisher and Norman Lawrence.
This celebration, on 6 October 2005, encompassed the ceremony of awards to people who make a difference in the Year of the Volunteer. Jo was nominated for the category of inspiring others to overcome personal obstacles, becoming a community role model.
On that day, Jo, Sue Hale and I manned the Fibromyalgia information table at the “Life is for Living” event, Chanctonbury Leisure Centre, Storrington from 10.30am to 4.00pm;
then Jo and I negotiated the route to Chichester. We were greeted with a glass of wine but, as we were both driving, Jo stuck with her water and I had to make do with the apple juice (not like me at all).
There were 29 recipients in attendance out of the 36 nominations and we sat in the Council Chambers on fairly comfortable leather chairs, facing forward. In front of us was a row of dignitaries, led by the Lord-Lieutenant of West Sussex (in full uniform including sword) and the lady Chairman, together with the gentleman who looks after the High Sheriff, whose duty it was to seat us and read the citations prior to each recipient being handed their award.
Some amazing achievements were honoured throughout the evening, quite humbling to see an array of people who, despite their own problems, make life much more bearable for so many others.
After the presentations we were ushered to the back of the Chambers where a buffet had been laid for our participation. Of course I had to have my fair share (as you do) but Jo stuck with her water for fear of ridicule at her next weigh in bless her.
It’s onward and upward for Jo as I believe there are more awards to come yet, and quite rightly so … … … … well done Jo, what would we have done without you and the rest of your committee!!!!
On 7 November, Jo Fisher was presented with the Jeanne Braybon Award at the West Sussex Disabilities Network A.G.M. in Billingshurst. Sue Hale attended with Jo and took some photographs.
This award is given to a person who is living with a disability and who has achieved outstanding service on behalf of others also living with disability. The award was created in memory of the WSDN former chairman, Jeanne Braybon MBE SRN, who had worked tirelessly on behalf of people with disabilities for most of her life despite being disabled herself. The award was a beautiful engraved glass flame, and a framed certificate. This award is presented annually and is kept by the person who has been nominated.