Tributes have been paid to a community champion who is passing on the volunteering baton after devoting thousands of unpaid hours to communities across Bedfordshire.
John Plummer, chairman of the Ampthill Community Safety Group and the driving force behind Bedfordshire Street Watch, received the Adult Citizenship Award from the High Sheriff of Bedfordshire last year for his volunteering efforts.
Now, after many years of working for the good of his home town of Ampthill and the wider community, Mr Plummer, of Arthur Street, is moving to Norfolk with his wife Jocelyn.
Mr Plummer took charge of the Street Watch scheme when it was in danger of disbanding, and following its success in Ampthill, a dozen groups have since been set up across the region. It means that Bedfordshire now has more Street Watch schemes and volunteers than anywhere else in the country. Such is its success that Mr Plummer has been asked for help setting up groups in Northampton, and also by the Metropolitan Police and Hertfordshire Police.
The scheme sees volunteers patrolling the streets in a bid to combat antisocial behaviour. Their presence is aimed to act as both a deterrent and a reassurance, and Mr Plummer is out every Friday evening in Ampthill with another member of ACSG.
Ampthill Community Safety Group was formed in 2009 after a residents’ survey highlighted concerns over community safety. Since then, as well as working to combat anti-social behaviour, the group has managed to get issues with traffic, road markings, overhanging foliage and dog waste bins resolved, as well as working with other agencies to help improve life in the market town for residents of all ages.
Chief Inspector Neill Waring, responsible for crime reduction and community safety at Bedfordshire Police, said: “John provides advice and support and is a point of contact for all Bedfordshire Street Watch co-ordinators. He meets with volunteers on a regular basis to ensure they are able to discuss any issues, can share experiences and volunteers can find out what each other has been doing. He is a great advocate for their individual work and promotes their achievements where possible.
“But John does not promote his own achievements or sing his own praises. He silently, willingly and consistently gives up considerable time to support others for no personal gain.”
Cllr Brian Spurr, executive member for community services at Central Bedfordshire Council, said: “People like John play an incredibly important part in making Central Bedfordshire a great place to live. John doesn’t do what he does for personal glory or recognition, just to improve his community and the lives of people living there.
“I would like to thank him on behalf of the council for everything that he has done over the years, and I know that he will be an incredibly hard act to follow.”
Joy Piper, community safety partnership manager at Central Bedfordshire Council, said, “John has been an incredible support and advocate to partnership working across Bedfordshire for many years. With his commitment we have been able to witness positive changed within our local communities, increases of engagement and communities working together.
“John has provided excellent advice and support to many organisations and is always willing to give us his own time to help others. I wish John and his family every happiness in their new home, but I will be very sorry to lose such an asset to Central Bedfordshire.”
Helen Armitage, secretary of ACSG, said: “We shall be extremely sorry to lose John, our founder and chairman – he’s very efficient, dynamic, and a wonderful person.”
June Hutley, the group’s vice chairman, added: “We will miss his quiet, considered leadership when he moves to Norfolk but wish him and Jocelyn every happiness in their new life.”
For more information about Street Watch and other community safety schemes visit www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/communitysafety