Southborough volunteer wins award for community work

Leonie Barker and Cllr Reeves Picture: Jason Reeves

A celebrated resident of Tunbridge Wells received one of the highest awards in the area last month for her “outstanding contribution” to the community.

Leonie Barker, who leads Southborough SOS, was awarded Southborough Town Council’s Civic Award on July 27 for her work and commitment to looking after the town.

Southborough SOS is a community group of volunteers that meets regularly to keep the streets and green spaces of Southborough and High Brooms litter-free.

Ms Barker, who is also a Litter Hero Ambassador for Keep Britain Tidy, was presented with the Southborough Civic Award at Full Council at the Civic Centre by Deputy Mayor Cllr Jason Reeves on July 27.

Cllr Reeves told the Times why Leonie was the deserving winner.

He said: “Leonie has tidied up our streets, pulling together volunteers from across the community.

“Southborough SOS is very much a team effort, and Leonie is the organising powerhouse behind the group.”

SOS has been active in the community for six years and in this time has collected over 12,000 sacks of rubbish and several skips full of larger items. It meets monthly to carry out street cleaning operations and has also transformed community flower beds and local traders’ shop frontages.

Nell Price, one of SOS’s many volunteers described Leonie as a “true leader” who has “grown a community reaching far further than this small town” and who has generously given her “time and passion to make the world a better place.”

The Facebook group has over 1,000 members, and Leonie is keen to keep this number growing, alongside hands-on volunteers, to ensure the future of the group.

“My wish is for people to realise we need a constant stream of volunteers to ensure that Southborough SOS can continue in its mission,” Leonie said.

“I am very grateful for the award in recognition of six years of very hard work, but I am keenly aware that none of this could have been achieved without the support of so many wonderful volunteers.”

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