One of the most enjoyable tasks that I find myself undertaking in my capacity as a local councillor and Lead Member is making presentations to various members of the community who have in some way or another contributed towards improving our society and the lives of those around them.
Some weeks ago I attended a function at the Master Robert Hotel at which I was called upon to present awards to members of the community who had engaged in anti-crime work on their respective estates, helping the police and the local authority to tackle anti-social activity. It was a sobering reminder that whatever platitudes we as politicians or public figures may give voice to, it is always the community itself which is in the frontline of having to deal with the effects of crime.
Then shortly before the recent Remembrance Day parade Councillor Paul Fisher and I had the pleasure of handing a framed certificate to Ralph Clifton, landlord of the popular Griffin public house in Brentford, in recognition of his extraordinary success each year in raising funds for the Poppy Appeal. Just a few days later he once again amazed us by announcing that he had generated a further £1,100 this year.
And last Wednesday I ventured along the road to the Green School after having been consigned to my flat for nearly two weeks by illness (Caroline's illness, not mine, but someone has to feed the kids) to present Bronze Awards to dozens of local schoolchildren for their work on the Duke of Edinburgh Scheme. They, together with the Silver and Gold Award winners who regaled us with tales of their sometimes extraordinary adventures, presented a face of today's youth that is sometimes overlooked amid the media stories of knives, drugs and criminality which seem to dominate every issue of our national newspapers.
At the conclusion of the Duke of Edinburgh event due tribute was rightly paid to the amazing Dot Hasler, who has co-ordinated the scheme in the London Borough of Hounslow for many, many years, and who will be retiring from her role in a few weeks' time. Her tireless efforts will be sorely missed by the local authority, and by the youth of the Borough.
Events such as these serve as a useful and in some ways humbling reminder of what community empowerment is actually about in practice. Real people, working selflessly, to make a local environment a better place and to improve quality of life for those around them, often without the recognition which we as elected officials seem to expect for ourselves.