Community champions celebrated at annual Rushden awards event

Eric Fowell (nominee) with Sarah Peacock (Susan's daughter) and Mike Neville (winner)
Eric Fowell (nominee) with Sarah Peacock (Susan's daughter) and Mike Neville (winner)

A man involved in numerous groups in Rushden and often seen on stage as compere for the evening has been recognised for his efforts.

Mike Neville is the winner of this year’s Susan Hollowell Award and he was left speechless when his name was read out at the annual Sing for Serve concert on Tuesday.

The annual award is organised by Serve in memory of Susan Hollowell, who died in 2002 aged 63.

She was a committed volunteer in the town and chairman of Northamptonshire and Rushden Age Concern.

She also helped to set up Serve.

Mike was one of four nominations for this year’s award.

His citation said: “Mike has made a sustained and outstanding contribution to Serve as a volunteer over many years.

“Examples of his dedicated work include long-standing and enthusiastic service as a trustee until his recent retirement, raising funds for Serve through his Rotary contacts, hosting the annual Sing for Serve carol service and playing a leading role in organising and supporting fundraising and social events.”

But as well as his work with Serve, Mike is known in the town from his days as an estate agent, he has been a member of Rushden Rotary for 31 years, involved with the operatic society and RATS group and he has given talks for numerous WI and Women’s Guild groups in the area.

He is the MC for the Higham Sparkle event and has even been an Elvis impersonator, with his favourite number being Can’t Help Falling In Love.

Speaking afterwards, Mike said: “I am speechless.

“Being a retired estate agent, I can usually waffle my way through anything, but this took me by surprise.

“I would have put a suit on if I’d known.”

Mike, who is in his 70s, said he thought there were other people in the town who do far more than him, although he admitted that his role as compere at numerous events means he is well-known for what he does.

But Mike added: “I feel very humbled.

“I have always lived in either Rushden or Higham Ferrers and enjoyed what I do and hopefully I can continue to do that.”

The other nominations were Eric Fowell, Amy Vaughan and Dorothy Maxwell.

Eric’s citation said: “For more years than he can remember, Eric has been involved in many organisations in Rushden - secretary, chairman, organiser etc.

“He is the local historian with an archive of thousands of pictures and documents.

“He is now 88-years-old but still active.”

Teenager Amy Vaughan was nominated for her marathon fundraising efforts.

Her citation said: “Amy’s mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2014.

“Amy’s family were supported locally by the Alzheimer’s Society.

“She has raised over £10,000 since January 2015, by running marathons and through local collections.

“Her latest challenge will see her trek Mt Kilimanjaro next month.

“She is a wonderful champion for the Alzheimer’s Society.”

Dorothy’s citation said she works with children and young people on projects such as free tennis, she works with young offenders when they leave prison, helps with three youth football teams and she is also a volunteer teacher at South End School.

The citation added: “She is tireless in helping local people in any way she can and would be a most deserving winner of the award.”

The nominations and overall winner were announced at the annual Sing for Serve carol concert at Park Road Baptist Church, Rushden, on Tuesday.