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High Sheriff Presents Awards

Matt Lane and High Sheriff Tim Russen
Matt Lane and High Sheriff Tim Russen

Abergavenny Town Council nominated Matt and the Abergavenny Street Monitors for “going above and beyond” during very difficult times.

Tim Russen, High Sheriff of Gwent said “One of my more pleasurable duties as High Sheriff is to formally recognise those amongst us who do so much to enhance the life of the community. They routinely go above and beyond our expectations, and the positive impact they have on others cannot be overestimated. It is therefore my great pleasure to present these awards to Matt Lane and the Abergavenny Street Monitors, both thoroughly deserving of such recognition”

Many will know Matt as he is an active member of the local community and is the main organiser of local annual events including the ‘Switch on’ of the Christmas lights’, the annual firework display and the Abergavenny Music Festival.

During lockdown, Matt, in conjunction with the Abergavenny Round Table, used his DJ skills by playing music from his van entertaining the people of Abergavenny and surrounding area. In one 12 hour road trip playing dance music from his van he collected nearly £2000 for the NHS charities. Then following the cancellation of VE75 Day celebrations on the 8th May due to Covid 19, Matt along with his partner Keri Leanne decided to undertake another epic twelve-hour road trip and brought the sound of the 40s to our streets. Not only did he honour the brave men and women of WWII, he also brought a smile to our faces and raised our spirits. Matt with Round Table colleagues also supported people who were self-isolating by doing their shopping and collecting prescriptions.

The Abergavenny Street Monitors is a voluntary self-help group set up during the pandemic, the guiding principle was to establish a Street Monitor in all the streets of Abergavenny. They provided practical assistance to Abergavenny residents unable to leave their home for essential supplies and medicines during the Covid-19 lockdown. This included those who were shielding, the elderly, those self-isolating and others whose circumstances made it unsafe or impractical to leave their home.

It was started by a post to an open email group called the Abergavenny Women’s Network, it was suggested that a meeting of members should take place to discuss initiating a group to help vulnerable residents with their shopping. Half a dozen women met up and it was decided to set up a Facebook page. Many people responded, offering their services, until eventually at the peak of the pandemic there were 200 Street Monitors.

 A leaflet was designed, for the Street Monitors to distribute to houses in their street, with contact details, offering to do shopping and collect medicines etc. In this way, links were made within individual streets, and relationships built up between the Street Monitors and those needing their services.  Other organisations and distant family members of the residents of Abergavenny have used the Facebook page to liaise with the Street Monitors to support those in need.

The Street Monitors have enhanced the community spirit, bringing neighbours together, the community felt they had a safety net and were re-assured by their presence. Over 1000 individual households have been helped so far by Abergavenny Street Monitors. The group plans to continue whilst there is a need and the threat of further outbreaks exists

Mayor of Abergavenny Councillor Tony Konieczny told the Chronicle “When the High Sheriff contacted the Town Council to ask if there were any people in the community that had gone above and beyond, we immediately thought of Matt Lane and the Abergavenny Street Monitors. It is great that the High Sheriff supported our nominations and at long last we’ve been able to arrange a simple and safe award ceremony and say a big thank you to them”

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