For the first time ever, the award was made jointly to a brother and sister team, Rob Welch and Tracey Hemming. Out of the seven people nominated, both Rob and Tracey were each nominated in their own right and a third nomination was made for the pair. After some discussion about the merits of all the people nominated, it was decided to make the award jointly to Rob and Tracey, for all the work they have done at The Pub in the Club, in particular the start-up of the highly successful Freedom Disco for people with disabilities.
In the words for the people who nominated them: “Tracey started Freedom Disco last year. It is a disco for young people who have learning difficulties. It began in a small way, with a few donations, which enabled Tracey to purchase second-hand disco equipment. It has grown from strength to strength and is held every Tuesday night at “The Pub in a Club”. The young people, with their carers, can spend an enjoyable evening in a safe and secure environment. The main aim now is for Tracey and her volunteers to raise enough money to purchase a minibus so that those who live further away can attend the disco [as at February 2017, this target has now been met]. Fund-raising activities are well-supported and the minibus appeal is growing. Tracey and her husband, Paul, have a 28-year-old son who has Fragile X Syndrome (a genetic disorder). He will need care for the rest of his life, as do many others. Nigel Huddleston MP is a supporter of Freedom Disco. He attended the fete in the summer and has recently tweeted further support.”
The nomination for Robert said: “He has kept the club open under extreme circumstances. The Club is used by several elderly groups who would have to finish if the club closed. The Freedom Disco he support 100% and would not be able to function without him. He is a very unassuming man who never asks for thanks.”
And finally, the nomination for the pair: “The nomination cannot be for one only as both have put in great effort to enable the ex Royal British Legion Club building to be used as the new Pub in a Club which has enabled the various activities for social groups to continue which would not have a venue. Also, starting The Freedom Club for those who lack social skills but gives them a safe place to meet.”
Tracey and Rob were unable to attend the AGM when the presentation is normally made, so Barbara Jerram put on her dancing shoes and accompanied Maureen Spinks to the Valentine’s Day Freedom Disco at The Pub in a Club. We were overwhelmed and humbled by the sight of nearly a hundred young and not-so-young people having the time of their lives. It was obvious from the enthusiasm of all the people present that Tracey and Rob’s work is much appreciated. It is wonderful that the building, originally the Village School, more recently the home of the Royal British Legion, is once again being used as a vibrant community centre.