• Cllr Paul Hopfensperger

Paul presents Newbury Community Centre Chair, Barbara Bannister with an Award

Updated: Oct 3, 2018


Cllr Paul Hopfensperger presents Barbara Bannister with her award

Monday September 17, 2018 was a pivotal milestone in my commitment to deliver a new community centre for the people of St Olaves Ward. Following the meeting, we are now on target to deliver a new centre, with construction expected to start in 2019 as promised.


During the "Any Other Business" section of the meeting, I had a surprise for community stalwart, Barbara Bannister, as I delivered a speech to the assembled project board as follows:-


"Thank you for just letting me have a few more moments of your time on this momentous day in the delivery of a new Community Centre and associated housing for the residents of St Olaves Ward and beyond.


Back in about 2011, a staggering 7 years ago now, the Newbury Community Centre Committee rejected the chance to take ownership of the existing community centre from St Edmundsbury Borough Council, due to a number of reasons, but mainly that it was considered “not-fit-for-purpose” to suit the needs and requirements of a changing 21stcentury community. Indeed the centre needed getting on towards £200,000 to be spent on it before it could even be considered remotely suitable. At that time, the late Ivy Goodman was the Chair, and as her health gradually declined, her vice Chair, Barbara Bannister assumed the role of the day to day running of the centre. When Ivy passed away, Barbara took over as Chair, and I think it’s fair to say It was, and I think still is, a tough task, but she has guided the centre through thick and thin to get us to exciting position we find ourselves in today.


Barbara has recently organized a simply fabulous fete and disco which was to celebrate 50 years since the centre was first built in September 1968. These events raised over £1,000 for the centre, and if you missed either event, I can assure you, both were just amazing. The fete in particular, really showed the strength of community spirit which prevails on the Howard Estate. On a day-to-day basis, Barbara spends much of her time at the centre, taking bookings, dealing with the finances and dealing with problems etc. She has been part of this particular project board since day one, and I don’t remember her missing a single meeting. Her commitment to the existing community centre and helping deliver a new centre is un-wavering, and so therefore, I would like to give her a small token of my appreciation to show how grateful the community is for her loyal service.


In December 2016, St Edmundsbury Borough Council agreed to set up a scheme which would give ward councillors the opportunity to reward up to two people within their wards during their four-year term of office by giving them a scroll of honour.


The award is known as:- “The St Edmundsbury Councillor Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Community”.


So, Barbara, to say a big thank you from me, and an even bigger one from your community, I would like to present you with the St Edmundsbury Councillor Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Community.

It has been signed by me as not only one of your councillors, but as a dear friend, and the Mayor of St Edmundsbury, Cllr Margaret Marks has also signed it. Many congratulations."

Paul and Barbara outside West Suffolk House after the meeting

After the speech, which saw Barbara and myself nearly in tears, I presented here with a framed certificate and a bunch of flowers. Once again from all of us Barbara, congratulations and keep up the good work.

External links to this story


(1) 20/09/2018 - East Anglia Daily Times by Michael Steward.

(2) 20/09/2018 - Bury Mercury by Michael Steward.

(3) 28/09/2018 - Bury Free Press by Laura Nolan.

#StOlavesWard #CllrHoffy #StOlaves #BarbaraBannister #StEdmundsburyBoroughCouncil #HowardEstate #OutstandingContributionToTheCommunity #TowerDivision


Cllr Paul Hopfensperger. Independent Bury St Edmunds Town Councillor and

West Suffolk Councillor for St Olaves Ward, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk.

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