Four people living, working or volunteering in Sandwell have been named as Coronation Community Champions in recognition of their volunteering work.
All four were nominated for their work supporting different parts of the community: Melanie Griffin (Crisis and Welfare), Winston Walker (Supporting Older People), Suzanne Richards (Supporting Young People and Children) and Steven Drury (Health and Care).
Part of the official Coronation project, the initiative was launched by Her Majesty The Queen and the Royal Voluntary Service to celebrate extraordinary volunteers across the country who have been contributing to their communities.
The Champions each received a specially designed official pin and signed certificate from His Majesty The King and Her Majesty The Queen and were invited to attend one of the official Coronation celebrations including the Windsor Castle Coronation Concert and Coronation Garden Party.
Suzanne (Suzy) Richards was recognized for her work with Smile For Joel. In 2015, Suzy’s brother, father and two sons went to Tunisia on holiday. A terrorist attacked their hotel killing three of them, only Owen, 16 at the time, survived. Suzy created Smile for Joel, in memory of them and particularly her son Joel who was only 19 when he was killed. Suzy also received an MBE in the King’s Birthday Honours in June 2023.
Winston Walker is a familiar face to many as he is a walk leader at Sandwell Stride – Ramblers Wellbeing Walks. Winston is a walk leader in his community including his doctor’s surgery where he singlehandedly started a walking group and is a catalyst for community activities such as coffee mornings, cooking groups, meals and social events. His passion and dedication to involve every member of his community is infectious and inspirational.
Steven Drury is a volunteer Emergency Ambulance Crew in Rowley Regis St John Ambulance, where he has provided thousands of hours of voluntary ambulance cover, predominantly in the West Midlands. Steve is also a senior logistics advisor in SJA and has been key to the delivery of deployments such as the Queen’s Funeral.
Melanie Griffin volunteered at a Suicide Bereavement group and a Crisis drop in centre in Sandwell. She now voluntarily runs a Charity – the Violet Project to work in the field of self harm and suicide, offering support via phone, messaging, leaflets and meetings, to those affected.
The Leader of Sandwell Council, Councillor Kerrie Carmichael, said:
“I would like to congratulate all of Sandwell’s Coronation Champions and thank them for all their hard work to make Sandwell a healthier, more understanding and better place to live and work.
“I know that the Champions also represent a huge number of other unsung heroes who are working quietly, often behind the scenes, to help others. They make me proud to be from Sandwell.”