Neighbourhood Watch
Sun 28 November 2021
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Cumbria Neighbourhood Watch Association Conference and AGM 2021 (Online)

The 2020 Annual Conference and AGM of the Cumbria Neighbourhood Watch Association was cancelled due to the COVID Pandemic. However, we were finally able to conduct the AGM on Monday 8 February 2021 'Online' with Board members being joined by a welcome number of Neighbourhood Watch members. After the formal business Lorrainne Smythe, Chief Executive of ACTion with Communities gave a presentation of her work and the link to Neighbourhood Watch.

Our original guest speakers, Cumbria Police Chief Constable Michelle Skeer QPM and Police and Crime Commissioner Peter McCall, although not present, very kindly provided a resume of their presentations which I have included below.

'2020 has certainly been an extraordinary year and one in which the Pandemic has had a dramatic impact on all our lives.  Of course there has been the tanged year of serious illness and the loss of loved ones for many and restrictions on our freedom of movement and businesses and for many including the elderly of loneliness as a result of being socially isolated both at home and for those in care settings.  I’m sure we all now hope and pray for the smooth roll out of the vaccine programme so that life can return to some semblance of normal.
Whilst the year has been awful in so many ways, it is possible to draw on the positive effect of our much heavier reliance on neighbours and neighbourliness, and we’ve seen so many examples of that right across our communities where we have seen people watching out for each other, doing shopping, collecting prescriptions and a whole range of other public spirited acts which do restore faith in our neighbourhoods.  So many of us have had to become much more reliant too on technology, spending time in Zoom conferences and meetings being told umpteen times “you’re on Mute”.  Whilst we all miss personal contact in some ways Zoom etc have made us more accessible in passing and sharing information even for those of us who are of more mature years.
It has been great to see Neighbourhood Watch continue to develop over this last year, adapting to new means of communication like every other organisation and I hope that as a result we can all keep better informed, share information more speedily with the agencies that keep us safe and of course each other.  As we hopefully come out of the Pandemic soon, we will need to continue to build on our communication network keeping the best aspects which help us to keep our communities safe and as always, Neighbourhood Watch and those who volunteer with dedication and commitment are right at the forefront.  I continue to be so grateful for everything that Neighbourhood Watch do, both in fighting crime and just giving reassurance and support to our communities throughout Cumbria, Thank You and let’s all look forward to a much better year in 2021'

Peter McCall
Police & Crime Commissioner


'We are all still experiencing the challenging times of the COVID-19 pandemic and I think it is vital to recognise and acknowledge the support local communities have given by adhering to the guidance and keeping everyone safe.
Lockdown has brought significant challenges to how we police and I think it is important to understand that these are unprecedented times and our usual freedoms have been curtailed. However, we continue to strive to deliver an effective policing service to the local communities and despite the changes to the legislation and the guidance the adaptability and flexibility demonstrated is indicative of the relationship the police have in Cumbria with our local communities.
Clearly, the introduction and delivery of the vaccine is much welcomed and I see this as our pathway in moving forward and being able to begin to consider reintroducing events that we would normally take for granted.
The report from your chair identifies some really significant work with Cumbria Victim Support and Crimestoppers and I think especially now in these times of uncertainty this is vital for reassurance and keeping the public safe. The fact that the success of this work may result in national scheme inclusion is fantastic and I look forward to hearing more about that.
We continue to engage with members of the public and this engagement results in less use of fixed penalty notices which demonstrates that generally people are following the legislation and the guidance. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, officers and staff are still performing to a high standard across all areas of policing and continuing to deliver an effective policing service.
Thank you for your hard work and commitment to keep communities safe and hopefully I will be able to attend in person at your next annual general meeting'

Michelle Skeer QPM
Chief Constable


Equally so, our Honary President, the High Sheriff of Cumbria, Julie Barton provided the following:

Celebrating Outstanding Neighbourliness Across Cumbria During the Pandemic
'As High Sheriff of Cumbria I am delighted that in this most unusual and challenging of years, The Cumbria Neighbourhood Watch Association High Sheriff Shield will celebrate our amazing communities. This year the shield is awarded to celebrate the neighbourliness generously shown by so many people across Cumbria towards others, often to complete strangers, during the pandemic. It also commemorates the selfless efforts of NHS, care sector and other frontline workers.
Since March 2020, communities across Cumbria have confronted the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, the biggest crisis of our generation. As High Sheriff of Cumbria I have been privileged to hear so many stories of communities selflessly supporting their fellow Cumbrians through acts of kindness, generosity, compassion, and neighbourliness which are so often directed at complete strangers. Together, the people of Cumbria have worked to tackle social isolation and loneliness and support one another. This award celebrates this very proactive and pragmatic neighbourliness.
The High Sheriff Shield also commemorates the outstanding support and selfless efforts of NHS, care sector and other frontline key workers. Recognition of the parts they have played in saving and protecting lives is well deserved, and this year’s High Sheriff Shield is a way of showing appreciation and thanks to them.
 The Office of High Sheriff is a Royal appointment for one year. My duties include lending active support to the judiciary, the police, emergency services and those working in crime prevention. Cumbria Neighbourhood Watch Association plays an important role in crime prevention in Cumbria and I thank them for their ongoing efforts'

With thanks and best wishes,
Julie Barton
High Sheriff of Cumbria 2020/21


High Sherrif Shield
On Monday 22 February 2021, the High Sheriff Shield presentation was made during the Cumbria Community Resilience Group meeting where the High Sheriff presented the Shield to Carolyn Otley, chair of the Group. The presentation was dedicated to everyone involved with NHS, Emergency Services, Front line staff and volunteers who have made a huge contribution to the work to combat the COVID Pandemic.
You can watch the presentation below, or on the following link:

All documents for the AGM can be found below:

AGM 2021 Itinery
Joe Murray Chair Report
Secretary Report
Treasurers Report
2020 Accounts

Cumbria Neighbourhood Watch Association Conference and AGM 2019

The annual conference and AGM of the Cumbria Neighbourhood Watch Association took place on Thursday 14th of November 2019 at St Augustines Community Hall in Carlisle CA3 9JU Guest speakers included Cumbria Police Chief Constable Michelle Skeer, Police and Crime Commissioner Peter McCall, John Hayward-Cripps, Chief Executive of the Neighbourhood Watch Network, Mick Duthie, Director of Operations with Crimestoppers,  Lorrainne Smythe, Chief Executive of ACTion with Communities and Inspector Diane Bradbury who is responsible for Neighbourhood Policing in Carlisle.

A special welcome to our guests, the High Sheriff of Cumbria, Marcia Reid Fotheringham who presented the High Sheriffs Shield to Burneside Parish Residents Association for the incredible work being done in their community.

The Burneside Parish Residents Association is spearheaded by Gayle Howarth (chair). The Boudica of Burneside! In a relatively short space of time we have achieved much. We have campaigned for, successfully, a new bridge in the centre of the village to replace the one damaged by Storm Desmond, we organised a wonderful opening party on the village green on the day. We have now managed to arrange a permanent electric supply to Village Green to power not only our 30 foot Christmas tree, but a host of other events throughout the year. This year we have arranged a "Christingle" candlelit walk by the children from the Green to the Church. We also host the Kid's Club, for free, primarily aimed at disadvantaged local kid's who probably don't get to go on holiday over the summer break. But also for all kids! We also hold a regular coffee mornings at the church to target lonely older residents, and everyone else too. It is very popular! We also conduct regular litterpicks (this WILL be the tidiest village in the county).

We have a fully equipped Flood Defence Committee ready for action at a moments notice. We have sports days, Gala’s and parties for special events.

All this, and more, is achieved by hard work and relentless fundraising, hectoring, auctioning and begging where necessary.

The photograph shows Gayle Howarth receiving the Award by the High Sheriff.

The annual conference and AGM of the Cumbria Neighbourhood Watch Association took place on Saturday the 14th of October at the Oval Centre, Salterbeck, Workington CA14 5HA and the programme can be seen here. The event started with registration and coffee at 09.45 and finished with a complementary buffet lunch at 12.30. We were delighted that Sue Hayman, MP for Workington and Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, kindly agreed to be with us. Sue was joined by Peter McCall, Cumbria's Police and Crime Commissioner, Phil Tibble, Chair of West Cumbria Community Safety Partnership, Mark Webster, Assistant Chief Constable and Lorrainne Smyth Chief Executive of Action for Communities in Cumbria. We were also pleased that the High Sheriff of Cumbria, Alistair Wannop, was present to present the High Sheriff's award. This was given to 'Shackles Off' a project which has been running in Seascale for nearly ten years. They work tirelessly to ensure that young people have a safe place to go, providing a variety of activities in the village, including youth clubs, gym sessions and afternoon sessions for those who are not in work.

The High Sheriff of Cumbria, Alastair Wannop presents the High Sheriffs Shield to team members of 'Shackles Off' . Also in the picture from the left are Lorrainne Smyth and Peter McCall.

The 2016 Conference and AGM was held on Saturday the 19th of November and the programme for the event is here. Chaired by Joe Murray QPM, Chair of the Association, It was well attended and well received. A common theme from all the speakers was how, working in partnership with volunteer and statutory agencies, communities can become safer and more resilient. This was exemplified by Jonny Gios in describing the amazing response in Kendal to the recent floods brought about by hurricane Desmond. Both Darren Martland and Peter McCall pointed up the important role that Neighbourhood Watch volunteers play and how the Police are both supportive of the movement in Cumbria but also need their support in turn. Kate Algate described how her network supports local Associations and volunteers and pointed out that Neighbourhood Watch is by a long way the largest voluntary organisation in the country. It is her role to ensure that the importance and relevance of the movement is recognised by Government and other key opinion formers.

Speakers at the Conference

Jo Murray

Joe Murray QPM

Jo Murray

Darren Martland

Jo Murray

Kate Algate

Jo Murray

Peter McCall

Jo Murray

Jonny Gios

High Sheriff’s Shield

The highlight of the event however, was the presentation of the High Sheriff’s shield to Blake Robinson.

During the recent floods the 23-year-old farmer risked his own safety to reach a stranded family of six - including two young boys and a pregnant woman - at their flooded, blacked-out bungalow at Gilpin Bridge, beside the A590 near Levens.

Blake had spent much of Saturday, December 5, helping to rescue people from Sandylands, including his baby god-daughter. However he did not hesitate when the RNLI called on his help again in the early hours of Sunday morning. Blake drove his tractor and took the lifeboat crew members and their boat through surging, chest-high water to the bungalow and began extracting the family .

"There was no way they could have walked through the current," he said. "I didn't know if the tractor would get forced down with the weight of the water. I had to be aware of garden gates flying around because they were moving with the flow of the water. I had to be quite cautious. I was just glad to be getting them out."

In all, Blake made seven trips to and from the bungalow, with one of the lifeboat crews hanging half in-half out of the tractor door.

"It was dark and wet and horrible. I can imagine it was quite cold and scary for them," said Blake. "They had been in the water for a few hours and they looked like they had been to hell and back, but with such a look of relief on their faces”.


Blake Edwards with (left to right) The High Sheriff of Cumbria, Rev’d (Group Captain) Richard Lee RAF rtd, Darren Martland, Assistant Chief Constable, Cumbria Constabulary and Peter McCall, Police and Crime Commissioner for Cumbria.

Joe Murray, in his closing comments said “We have seen the incredible community spirit that was created as a direct result of the floods and devastation that came with it, however, to a certain degree, a new form of Neighbourliness has been created. I firmly believe that Cumbria Neighbourhood Watch Association can play a significant role by working in partnership with all communities to create and build resilience that will make Cumbria an even safer place to live and work”.