On Friday, Ken Griffiths, a BBC Surrey and BBC Sussex Community Hero (volunteer award) from 2018, celebrated a big birthday. Mark Carter of BBC Surrey surprised Ken with a tribute on his show last Friday.
Ken is involved in so many local organisations (Little Lumpy, gardening at Haslemere Museum, Haslewey, Wey Hill in Bloom, Haslemere Fringe, Haslemere Festival, Haslemere’s Community Rail Partnership to name just a few…).
In case you missed it, here is the interview in a video format put together by another Haslemere resident, Miles Weston.
Mark Carter, BBC Surrey: Now, for our first Make A Difference update today, we’re going to head to Haslemere. We’ll find out what’s going on there with our Community Heroes Awards Winner, Ken Griffiths, otherwise known as Community Ken. He’s with me. Good morning to you, Ken.
Ken Griffiths: Good morning, Mark. Good to talk to you.
Mark Carter, BBC Surrey: Now then. It’s very nice to speak to you. And I’d like to know please, just a brief summary, of just how life is going at the moment in terms of Haslemere and the help and support that’s available.
Ken Griffiths: Well, Haslemere has actually rallied round as Haslemere would and the good people of Haslemere are helping in many many ways. There’s Haslemere Help, which has actually been set up, which is helping local people in getting drugs from the pharmacy, shopping, etc. It’s talking to and helping people who are in isolation. The Community Meals Service is up and running from Haslewey and I know you know Haslewey because you actually broadcast from there before. Just recently, The Haslemere Community Store has just opened offering free food to those who actually need it. So, Haslemere has responded in a great way as I would expect it to.
Mark Carter, BBC Surrey: Very good news. Now let’s remind people if they haven’t come across you before Ken, this is a little bit of the story behind Ken and our brilliant Community Heroes Awards Winner. Let’s just have a listen:
Mark Carter plays a clip of past BBC Surrey interview with Ken Griffiths in 2018 from BBC Surrey BBC Sussex Community Heroes Awards Event.
Ken Griffiths: Welcome to Haslemere Museum on a very autumnal day. The leaves are now fallen. We can actually hear them under our feet. And, here we are, in the grounds of the museum. And, we’re actually restoring them to what they once were in their Georgian heyday.
Ken Griffiths: Well for my sins, I seem to volunteer for one or two projects that take place in Haslemere. You know what it’s like. You put your hand up once and they come back again.
Haslemere Volunteer One: He really is inspiring to all of us really. He’s showed the way. And, I’ve been involved with Ken I think for I don’t know how many years on Haslemere initiatives and others and he is always upfront. He’s a bit of a devil for engaging people and it’s a job to say no to him.
Haslemere Volunteer Two: He was instrumental in arranging a new Post Office when the main post office was being closed and shows us really the way to go.
Haslemere Volunteer Three: Since Ken joined us a couple of years ago, we’ve done so much more work. He’s been an inspiration to all of us. His drive and motivation are quite incredible. And, without him, I don’t think we would have done anywhere near as much as we have done.
Awards’ Host: Well, what a brilliant category. The winner of the BBC Sussex and BBC Surrey Community Heroes Award in the category of Volunteer is Ken Griffiths.
Ken Griffiths: (accepting his award): For me to win this award, it’s humbling. It really is. I’m only one of many and there are many people around Haslemere who also volunteer and this award is not only just for me, it’s for them as well.
Audience claps. Clip ends. Main interview resumes.
Mark Carter, BBC Surrey: You might have guessed by now that I had an alternative motive for getting you on today … because … let’s have a listen to this particular message.
Recording of Haslemere Town Crier, Christian Ashdown: Bell rings. Oyez. Oyez. Oyez. Good people of Haslemere, please join me your Town Crier in wishing Community Ken Griffiths a happy 70th birthday. And wish him all the best tomorrow morning as he plants up the Wey Hill in Bloom hanging baskets. God Save the Queen.
Mark Carter, BBC Surrey: Ken, Happy 70th birthday!
Ken Griffiths: Thank you. That’s very, very kind of you. I’m a little bit overwhelmed now.
Mark Carter, BBC Surrey: Well, yes, I’ve had a few people working behind the scenes for this little surprise for you this morning, including Áine Hall who got in touch with me saying it’s his birthday and, due to lockdown, all his family plans have been postponed. Lots of surprises had been planned, but do you think Mark you could give Ken a shout out on his birthday and wish him a happy birthday from everyone in the community. And … I’ve also got somebody else on the line. Good morning, Councillor Nikki Barton.
Councillor Nikki Barton: Good morning. Happy birthday Ken.
Ken Griffiths: Thank you, Nikki. That’s very kind of you and thank you for what you did this morning. You might like to tell Mark about that. I don’t know.
Mark Carter, BBC Surrey: What were you up to earlier then?
Councillor Nikki Barton: Oh, well, just a little bit of garden decoration to celebrate the birthday so that, when Ken woke up, he looked out of his window to see, yes, suitable birthday decorations
Mark Carter, BBC Surrey: How wonderful and Nikki, just tell us a little bit in your view of what makes Ken such a special man.
Councillor Nikki Barton: Gosh. I don’t know where to start really. I think it’s just Ken’s energy and vision and he’s just tireless and he’s just willing to give anything a go. Ken’s been a really close partner on the Community Rail Partnership at Haslemere and recently we’ve gone up the line to Surrey Hills and the South Downs and, you know, I can always count on Ken. He’s just tireless and fantastic and positive. And he’s a real community champion. We’re so lucky to have Ken in our town.
Mark Carter, BBC Surrey: And Nikki, you have some good news. Just … was it yesterday?
Councillor Nikki Barton: Yes, absolutely, the Surrey Hills to the South Downs Community Rail Partnership, which includes all the train stations from Haslemere up to Farncombe, has just been awarded accreditation by the Department for Transport as a Gold Star organisation. We’re all about promoting our towns and sustainable transport in the visitor economy and encouraging people to use the train to explore the countryside.
Mark Carter, BBC Surrey: Oh, how wonderful. And, this has come in as well, Ken, from Councillor John Robini, Haslemere’s Town Mayor. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to congratulate Ken on his 70th birthday. I’ve known Ken for many years. He’s an inspiration to the town as he leads many voluntary groups, not only to raise money, but leading by example: the flowers at Wey Hill and the Little Lumpy cycle ride are just two of the things that he does. When he’s out and with others watering those boxes to bring colour to enhance the area. On behalf of the town. I would like to thank you for your many years of volunteering, Ken, and I hope many more to come. And finally, if you wish to find him, try his allotment where he spends many hours tending to his plants.
Ken Griffiths and Mark Carter laugh
Mark Carter, BBC Surrey: Isn’t that lovely? You’re so well thought of, Ken, and that’s a lovely little tribute I hope for you this morning of all the amazing work that you do
Ken Griffiths: That is a lovely tribute indeed. And I have one or tears in my eyes at this moment in time.
Mark Carter, BBC Surrey: Well deserved. Are you having cake later?
Ken Griffiths: I don’t know what’s happening later. I’ve been told to be here, there and wherever. Things are happening, but I just do not know what they are.
Mark Carter, BBC Surrey: Well, happy birthday from me and, Nikki, thank you for joining us.
Councillor Nikki Barton: Happy Birthday, Ken. Enjoy your day.
Ken Griffiths: Thank you, Nikki. Thank you, Mark. It’s great to be talking to you again.