The Society from time to time makes awards for three categories of achievement in the town. They are made by the Committee after considering nominations from members. They are usually presented at the AGM.
The first is for one or more recently completed new building or restoration projects, which display an overall excellence of design and enhance the visual quality of the neighbourhood. It includes a plaque for permanent display on the building.
Secondly there is an amenity award, which may be given to an organisation or a facility that provides a new or significantly improved amenity for the community of Hythe.
Finally a framed certificate may be awarded to any individual, who need not be a member of the Society, who has rendered outstanding service to the community of Hythe. Such service will normally be unpaid and outside the individual’s normal profession, occupation or elected office.
At this year’s 70th AGM the Chairman had the pleasure of presenting two of the Society’s Civic Awards to Dr John Barham, who was represented by Clifford Woodward and Mrs Sally Chesters.
Following service as a Royal Navy doctor, John Barham came to Hythe in 1952 and joined Dr Comyn's practice at 7A High Street, premises that were quite inadequate by modern standards. Their search for a new surgery moved forward in 1955 when John, visiting a patient in Sun Lane, noticed a plot of land for sale. This led to the creation of the purpose-built Sun Lane Surgery where he worked from 1956 until his retirement in 1982. He is still widely remembered for his devotion to his patients throughout his 30 years in practice in Hythe.
In 1954 he joined the Hythe Division of the St. John Ambulance Foundation as surgeon of Hythe & Seabrook, where he was responsible for finding new and greatly improved premises, in use to this day. In 1968 he was admitted to the Venerable Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem and made an Officer of the order in 2005.
He founded The Hythe Umbrella Club, a social centre for lonely, disabled or isolated people of all ages which meets regularly at the Methodist Church Hall.
Outside his professional interests in 1967 he became a founder member of the Hythe and Saltwood Sailing Club – perhaps inspired by his time in the Royal Navy.
‘It is rare indeed to be able to honour a fellow citizen who has been so closely involved with four of the pillars of our community which are still thriving up to sixty years after their formation’
Clifford Woodward accepting the award on behalf of Dr Barham
The second award was presented to our longest serving committee member, Sally Chesters.
We have been too inclined, perhaps, to take for granted the way in which, week in, week out, Sally quietly and unobtrusively runs projects which add so much pleasure to our experience of living in Hythe and to our visitors. Sally has the knack of identifying areas that need attention, then gathering a team, tackling officialdom, obtaining grants, cajoling funds and cooperation from people and then seeing the project through to conclusion. One of Sally's first tasks was the running of the Town Walks which, as you know, she has continued to do while concerning herself with the appearance of the town and its amenities
Our old Town Square used to be drab and uninviting but now, thanks to Sally, it is attractive and well-maintained; just the place to tarry and to meet friends. Currently, as you know, she is working on improvements to Mackeson Square and there are other smaller, less conspicuous parts of Hythe which have benefitted from her touch. It is by Sally's initiative that we have the new tourist maps, a regular Farmer's Market and the magnificent displays of Hythe In Bloom. She was one of the initiators of the quite spectacular improvements that have been made, and continue to be made to the once neglected St. Leonard's churchyard
As the beautiful certificate, designed by again by Francis Lydiard, illustrates, Sally contribution to Hythe is truly award worthy.
Sally Chesters receiving her Award Certificate – President Doug Amans looks on
In 2014 at our 69th Annual General Meeting John and Kay Keesing were presented with the Capon Shield and Plaque in recognition of their work in saving and re-furbishing the former St. Michael’s Church, more commonly known as the Tin Tabernacle and a landmark building in Hythe for over 125 years.
The original intention had been for John to have an office in the Tin Tabernacle for his business as a Financial Advisor but due to delays in getting the necessary permissions and problems with the Utility companies that reads like a script for an Ealing Comedy it was two years after purchasing the old church before the refurbishments were complete, by which time John had sold his company!
The Tin Tabernacle is now used as a fabulous space for artists to exhibit their work and is a venue for craft fairs, brocantes/vintage fairs and it is available for general hire for wedding receptions and special events.The interior of this listed building now looks somewhat different from its days as a church but through their hard work and attention to detail John and Kay have ensured that it still maintains a warmth which welcomes visitors old and new.
At the 68th Annual General Meeting held at the Town Hall on 14th May The Chairman presented HCS Civic Award Certificates to Lt Col Umbers and Cllr John Schoner JP with the following citations:
Mike Umbers was Vice Chairman of HCS, and edited our Newsletter for 10 years. In 1993 he became ‘Events Secretary’ of Hythe Festival Committee and has produced the Programme for each of the 10 Festivals held since then, providing a wide range of entertainment free to participants thanks to the sponsorship of local businesses. He has written extensively about the history of the area and the parish church and taken a leading role in creating and running the Romney Marsh Visitor Centre and the Folkestone Art Trust.
John Schoner has worked tirelessly for our town and its people for a period of over 40 years. He has been a town councillor for 18 years, Mayor for two years, was the Scout Leader for Hythe for many years and is now the President of the Folkestone and Hythe Scout District. For 27 years he has been a Justice of the Peace serving for 22 years as a Magistrate. He has been Chairman of the immensely successful Venetian Fete Society for no less than 24 years.
The certificates were beautifully designed and executed by Francis Lydiard who is shown in our photograph, with the two recipients, Cllr Schoner on the left.