Westgate couple Lorraine and Richard Hambidge have been announced as the town’s local heroes 2019 and will flip the switch on the Christmas lights next month.
Westgate resident Wilfred Jenkins has also received a special award for his continuous help and shining example for people with additional needs. Wilfred, 22, will be Santa’s Guardian during the Westgate Christmas event on December 1.
Lorraine and Richard dedicate time and support for many projects in the town and were at the helm of this month’s Paint The Town Red poppy and sculpture trail.
Richard is the third generation of Hambidge family, who have supported Westgate Remembrance. In 1919 his grandad Bill Hambidge became one of the founders of the Comrades of The Great War, he was also one of the founders of the British Legion and United Service Club in Westgate. He then went on to sit on the Committee as Secretary for 49 years.
His son Colin Hambidge was one of the war’s fallen and his name is on the town’s War Memorial.
Bill’s other son, Dick (Richards father) was a sign writer and wrote, in gold leaf, the Memorial boards in the church and the United Services Club. Dick was also well-known for his contributions to local history articles about Westgate.
Lorraine said: “It was lovely to have been chosen and we thought (organisers) Ray and Christina were joking when we were told.
“We take the honour of being awarded Westgate’s Heroes for our team as this a big team effort. which we want to grow in 2020.
“We will be working very closely with Ray Taylor’s new Fixology project (a scheme for mending rather than binning items), are planning a Scarecrow Festival in June, an Easter egg hunt and a nativity silhouette plus knitted post box covers and more poppies for Remembrance next year.
“We want to bring back the community spirit in our town. “
Not only will the pair turn on the Christmas lights but Lorraine will be on the Fixology stall with her PottyBird Feeders and for every £20 spent the couple will make and donate a nest box. For every £30 spent they will make and donate a hedgehog box for Fixology to place in green spaces in Westgate.
She said: “We want to bring back the community spirt and make our town a better place for us and our wildlife.”
Wilfred, who was diagnosed as profoundly deaf as a toddler and as a teenager was identified as being on the autistic spectrum, is a much-loved resident of the town who volunteers for numerous animal and children’s charities.
Wilfred moved from Suffolk to Thanet, aged seven, in 2003 as a pupil at Margate’s Royal School for Deaf Children and later was living at Westgate College – which were both run by The John Townsend Trust.
When the Trust went into administration in December Wilfred was living at St Christopher’s in Westgate, a supported scheme with self-contained flats for young people aged from 18 with deafness and/or learning disabilities.
Wilfred moved into his own flat this year and has a vast circle of friends on social media who get a glimpse into his jam-packed life, and the obstacles he conquers, through his honest, funny and sometimes touching facebook posts.
He will be at the Christmas event as Santa’s Guardian. Duties will include escorting Santa in his vintage car to the Grotto at the waiting room in the Station Road of the station in good time to welcome all the children into his grotto.
Wilfred, who has a special Christmas suit for the occasion, said: “I am very excited. My mum is coming down.”
Westgate Station Road will be bustling with a large Christmas street market, live entertainment on two stages all day, parade, funfair, grotto, food, drink and more on Sunday, December 1 from 11am to 5pm. Westgate Galleria will also have a special opening for the day.