Celebrations across South Staffordshire for civic figures

It was a day of landmark celebrations for South Staffordshire, as hundreds of people united to mark a total of four events.

South Staffordshire Council Chairman Cllr Matt Ewart, Lord Lieutenant of Staffordshire Ian Dudson, South Staffordshire Council Leader Cllr Roger Lees, Gavin Williamson MP, and Chief Executive of South Staffordshire Council Dave Heywood  with the official Codsall Community Hub opening plaque. Photo: Jon Thorne Photography
South Staffordshire Council Chairman Cllr Matt Ewart, Lord Lieutenant of Staffordshire Ian Dudson, South Staffordshire Council Leader Cllr Roger Lees, Gavin Williamson MP, and Chief Executive of South Staffordshire Council Dave Heywood with the official Codsall Community Hub opening plaque. Photo: Jon Thorne Photography

Dignitaries, local politicians, community groups and more gathered in Codsall on Saturday for the unveiling of a chainsaw-carved memorial sculpture honouring late council leader Councillor Brian Edwards MBE.

Additionally, the Queen’s Baton Relay passing through the village, there was the official opening of South Staffordshire Council’s new award-winning headquarters; and an awards ceremony celebrating the district’s residents and businesses.

First up on the day was the unveiling of a specially-commissioned sculpture in memory of Councillor Edwards, bearing key landmarks from across the district in the form of a map of South Staffordshire.

Crowds at the Brian Edwards MBE Memorial Sculpture. Photo: Jon Thorne Photography

The memorial, which was officially presented to the public by Brian’s son Chris Edwards, was sculpted by acclaimed South Staffordshire artist ‘Robot’, who is renowned for his craft across the region, including the creation of the Wolves statues in Wolverhampton.

Chris, who was joined at the event by Councillor Edwards’ wife Barbara and other family members, said he was ‘touched and heartened’ by the creation of the memorial in his late father’s honour.

He said: “My father spent many years of his life working hard to achieve great results for the residents of South Staffordshire and he truly loved the district and its council,”

“He was also hugely devoted to the new Codsall Community Hub, so to have this artwork installed in his name outside the building is wonderful.”

Shortly after the Queen’s Baton Relay departed the building, Codsall Community Hub was officially opened by Lord Lieutenant of Staffordshire Ian Dudson.

The Gold Award-winning Wolverhampton Road building is not only occupied by South Staffordshire Council, but also Staffordshire Police, Staffordshire County Council, Citizen’s Advice, and a total of 28 tenants.

Leader of the council, Councillor Roger Lees, said: “We made the bold decision to continue with this project against the backdrop of uncertainty that came with the pandemic two years ago – and thank goodness we did.

“We are immensely proud of the building. Not only is the Community Hub a wonderful asset for our residents, but it brings resources closer to our communities.”

The day culminated with an awards ceremony in memory of Councillor Brian Edwards, which saw seven residents and businesses hailed for a series of different achievements.

South Staffordshire Council Chairman Cllr Matt Ewart with Julia Jones of Altezza People UK Ltd, winner of the South Staffordshire Business Award. Photo: Jon Thorne Photography

Among the winners were 11-year-old Nathan Griffin, who won the Young Volunteer Award for his fundraising efforts to aid those affected by the Ukraine crisis, and Marlene Longman who won the Brian Edwards MBE Lifetime Achievement Award.

Chairman of the council, Councillor Matt Ewart, presented six out of seven of the awards, with the final accolade being given by leader of the council, Councillor Roger Lees.

Chairman Cllr Ewart said it was a privilege to assist in presenting the awards – adding that it was especially wonderful to hail ‘exceptional members of our society of such a wide range of ages’.

“We already know that our district is full of hard-working, caring, and innovative people – so it was great to be able to recognise some of the shining stars among them,” said Cllr Ewart.

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