The amazing achievements of two exceptional Eastwood teenagers have been duly recognised at a landmark presentation in the town.
An award honouring the memory of the late Hazel Braithwaite, who found legendary status as an 18-time Eastwood Mayor, has been presented to Beth Lee and Rhianne Lounds at a ceremony held at Hilltop Catholic Church Community Centre.
The two 17-year-olds, who are pupils at Eastwood Comprehensive School, made their mark by spearheading a campaign known as “Skraise”, to get a new skatepark facility installed at Coronation Park.
By their endeavours the pair raised an astonishing sum of £115,000, which was matched with funding provided by Broxtowe Borough Council, WREN (Waste Recycling Environment), Notts.County Council, Eastwood Town Council and Community First, among others.
Broxtowe Borough Council leader Milan Radulovic paid a glowing tribute to Hazel Braithwaite during his welcoming speech in which he described her as “a community champion who was a ‘tour de force’ in Eastwood’s history”.
He added: “Hazel was a woman everyone looked up to, an unsung hero who led by example, working tirelessly to make a difference. She was always their for the people and I am privileged to have known her. She was my inspiration and this inaugural Hazel Braithwaite awards ceremony is a testimony to a truly exceptional and inspirational woman.”
Ruth Hyde, chief executive of Broxtowe Borough Council, was invited to present achievement award certificates and gifts to Beth and Rhianne.
“They are exceptional young ladies who have championed their cause with energy and determination. It is a privilege to meet them and to reward their efforts at this special ceremony.” she said.
Eastwood Town Councillor Keith Longdon, who championed the girls’ cause from the outset, said: “They are an inspiration to others and have gone the extra mile in a bid to achieve a target which seemed far out of reach when they first started. I am so proud of them and I wish them every success in the future.”
Beth and Rhianne are now looking forwards to the skatepark project coming to fruition as work is expected to begin on the site later this year.
“We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who had faith in our cause, especially Sarah Taylor (former teacher) and Cllr Longdon, who have been very supportive,” the duo said.
“We are also grateful to our family and friends and to our school and the staff who have been behind us every step of the way.”
Brian Fretwell, a local resident who was instrumental in recommending an award as a tribute to Hazel Braithwaite following her sad death in November 2013, said: “I am delighted that my recommendation has been taken on board. Hazel Braithwaite was an exceptional woman. A champion of the people and a shining light in the local community.”
Eastwood Councillor Sue Bagshaw, a former mayor of the town, said: ”As a younger woman I admired Hazel and all that she did to help people in the local community. It is fitting that she is being honoured with an award in her name. She was unique and a lovely person who inspired everyone around her.”
Another former town mayor and close friend Don Rowley said: “She never shirked her responsibilities and set the bar at its highest level. We worked together on numerous occasions and she was the guiding light who never failed in her efforts to help others. She will always have a special place in my heart.”
Hazel Braithwaite served as the Mayor of Eastwood 18 times. She held office as the Mayor of Broxtowe in 1992 and was honoured in 2002 by being made an Honorary Alderman of the Borough.