A CARING great-grandmother who became a neighbourhood watch co-ordinator to give something back to the community which welcomed her so warmly when she moved to Anglesey has been honoured by a crime tsar.
Jenny Woodall, 72, came to live in the village of Valley, near Holyhead, in the late 1970s when her first husband’s job as a British Transport Police officer brought them up to North Wales from London.
And she has always been so appreciative of the friendly reception given to them that four years ago she took on the voluntary role with Neighbourhood Watch – a partnership where people come together to make their communities safer by keeping a friendly eye on each other’s property – and is now co-ordinator for 600 properties in the Gorad Valley area.
Jenny’s dedication to the job has landed her the coveted People’s Award in the second annual community awards run by North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Winston Roddick.
Mr Roddick launched the awards last year as a way to honour unsung crime fighting heroes across all North Wales communities in what was the first initiative of its kind in England and Wales.
The aim of the scheme is to officially recognise people who help police to keep their neighbourhood or town a peaceful and safe place to live and work and who help in rehabilitating offenders.
The People’s Award is nominated by the public and honours an individual or community group who have made a strong contribution towards community safety and crime prevention.
It was presented to Jenny by Mr Roddick at the 2015 awards ceremony at the Kinmel Manor Hotel in Abergele.
Widow Jenny, who has a son and a daughter plus three grandsons, two grand-daughters and a great-grandson and great-grand-daughter, said: “When I moved with my first husband to North Wales we were welcomed with such love by the people of Anglesey that I had always wanted to give something back to the community.
“I started out as Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinator for 25 houses in the immediate area around where I live but when I realised there were no other groups nearby I took on some extra homes and eventually was responsible for 300.
“Two years later I was persuaded by our local PCSO Andrea Williams to become the co-ordinator for another 300 on the other side of the road and the whole area was turned into a No Cold Calling Zone, which means we have warning signs up to say that people calling without appointments are not welcome.
“If cold callers do come into the area we are able to call on the police pretty quickly to ask them to leave.”
Apart from organising the clamp down on unwanted callers, Jenny also works closely with the police to issue a series of warning notices to her neighbours on topical subjects.
She explained: “At times like Christmas, for instance, we send something out reminding people to have things like new bikes for the children post-coded to help avoid theft.
“However, the notices could also be used for more serious purposes such as if a child went missing from the area.
“We’ve got about 20 Neighbourhood watch members – one in each road – who help with the distribution.
“My main aim in everything I do is to give people in the Valley area peace of mind and to be able to cope with the things life might chuck at them.
“People in this area know that they can get in touch with me day or night and I will try to help through the very close liaison I have with the local police.”
Bravely, Jenny continued with her work even after losing her husband of 22 years, Ted, earlier this year.
Apart from providing strong support to her in her co-ordinator role, Ted had also been a member of the Holyhead crime prevention panel for many years.
One of those who nominated Jenny for the People’s Award was Alison Farrar from Isle of Anglesey County Council Trading Standards.
She said: “Jenny has worked very hard to instil a sense of community within her area.
“When Trading Standards decided to ask the community whether they wanted the area to become a No Cold Calling Zone Jenny was brilliant at organising her network of local contacts to help deliver the questionnaires.
“Jenny took it in her stride when we asked her to incorporate 300 new homes into her Neighbourhood Watch area because they were also having cold caller problems.
“She made a huge effort in visiting all those new homes and making sure they were included in the project.
“Jenny has ensured that Valley residents feel safer in their homes and that they are more confident when facing a cold caller. This has made a huge difference t many people’s lives.
“Jenny has recently lost her husband, but even while she was nursing him at home, she wanted to continue with her voluntary work.”
Another of Jenny’s nominators, PC Glyn Williams from Holyhead police station, said of her: “Jenny has always welcomed our officers to her home and taken a genuine interest in her community.
“As an officer of 25 years’ service having worked in different areas of Wales, I can honestly say that I have not come across a more genuine person who has only the interest of the community at heart.”
PCSOs Kelly Tatlock and Sarah Hardie, who look after the Valley area, said of Jenny in their nomination: “Jenny works tirelessly for the community, often giving up her free time.
“Jenny makes a significant contribution to promoting and enhancing safety in the community.
“She also assists us by attending our community surgeries and always fully supports our policing initiatives.”
Of her People’s Award win Jenny said: “I am overwhelmed by it and it is something I never expected.
“I was never looking for brownie points – I just like to see people being happy and to be recognised and appreciated for that is just lovely.
“This award is also a credit to all the people in my area who work so hard to make the Neighbourhood Watch scheme work.”
Police and Crime Commissioner Winston Roddick, who in his time has served as a police officer, a barrister and a judge, said: “One thing all our winners have in common is that they make North Wales a better and safer place to live and work.
“There are a great number of people who do a lot of good in the community by helping North Wales Police and these silent workers go way beyond anybody else to make a contribution and ensure their communities are safe.
“In the overwhelming number of cases, this a personal commitment made without expectation of any kind of reward or recognition.
“I created the awards so that these unsung heroes and heroines of communities across North Wales could receive the recognition they deserve and to encourage others to emulate their good example.”