2018 is the year it changed

For many years, Hythe’s Annual Town Meeting followed a similar format. The town mayor would deliver a speech, followed by the chairmen of the principal committees, then a district councillor, then a county councillor, then the chairman of a local organisation.

Wasted effort

The people involved put a great deal of effort into preparing their contributions, but often there was almost no audience. The whole point of the annual town meeting – to bring people and organisations together – was lost.

You’re telling us, not us telling you

This year, we changed the focus. Instead of worthy councillors telling residents, it was residents talking to local organisations, residents and councillors. 18 prominent local organisations used table tops to present face-to-face.

Annual town report

We also extended the annual report to give more more detail about how the council spends residents’ money. Printed copies were distributed at the meeting or you can download a copy here.

Citizen of the Year Awards

The council launched its inaugural Citizen of the Year Awards at the same time, to celebrate and recognise the town’s wonderful volunteers. 

We put out a call for residents to nominate someone who helps out in the town. We were delighted to receive some very high quality nominations, for some simply amazing volunteers. 

The winner on the night was Gail East, but  the judging panel identified six finalists who would also have been worthy winners. They are listed in alphabetical order below.

Anne Shapter

Anne is a volunteer co-ordinator at AgeUK, and also volunteers with Hythe Brownies. Anne’s commitment to AgeUK clients has helped many elderly people stay independent. Anne’s activities have made a real difference to people’s lives.

Gail East

Gail is a remarkable example of all that is best about Hythe. She volunteers for the Guides where she is a long standing committee member. She raises funds for and supports the RNLI and is known as a backbone of the Women’s Institute. She has also helped out with youth football .Gail is known as a brilliant neighbour, looking out for her community.

John Wren

John’s commitment to local voluntary organisations is extraordinary. He provides volunteer help for the Scouts, St Leonard’s Church, Hythe Rotary, Shelterbox, the Venetian Fete and Hythe Festival. On top of that, he is also a driver for the Hythe Community minibus.

Kenza Bowman

Kenza founded the female running group ‘Hythe Blister Sisters’. She has won volunteer of the year at the 2015 Shepway Sports Trust Awards and is known for her infectious enthusiasm. Kenza gives confidence and encouragement to women of whatever age, size or ability to get back into physical activity, with some going from practically no exercise to running marathons.

Paul Fagg

Paul is a young man who shows an amazing community spirit. He helps elderly neighbours with gritting when there is snow on the ground, walks people’s dogs, collects and recycles old metal and has even done a parachute jump for charity. He volunteers every week at Elham Valley Vineyard.

Sally Chesters

Sally’s range of voluntary activities is legendary. She organises the beautiful flowers for Hythe in Bloom, the Hythe Town Walks, and helps with the Hythe Farmers’ market and the Civic Society. With both flair and a commercial eye, Sally is a real boon to the community.

Gail East was the winner in the Citizen of the Year Awards 2018. She was presented with a framed certificate by Hythe town mayor Cllr Paul Peacock at start of the Hythe annual town meeting. 

The annual town meeting was the busiest it’s been for years, with residents, councillors and representatives of prominent local organisations networking and exchanging information.

Finalists Gail East, Kenza Bowman, Anne Shapter and deputy town mayor Ann Mayne enjoy a joke