Maria is a champion at the LOVE Northumberland awards
September 7, 2019
Cramlington’s Maria Holdsworth was declared Outstanding Community, Environmental and Sustainable Transport Champion by the Duchess of Northumberland at the LOVE Northumberland awards.
Maria was nominated for her tireless work in Eastlea Primary School which goes above and beyond her role as admin assistant and she makes a massive contribution in helping to enrich the lives of the children and families of the school.
Maria works in the office at school and although she only works for 16 hours a week within that, you would be forgiven for thinking she was full time due to the extra hours she spends voluntarily in school. She has set up and runs a Toddler group, leads a Cycle club and has worked tirelessly to establish and maintain the school wildlife garden.
Maria will be 70 next year but never stops! She is an active member of the community and is always on the go. If she is not helping voluntarily at school then she will be helping at her church where she organises social nights and fund-raisers. She is constantly looking for ways to give the school children the best possible life experiences.
She organises Golden days, visits out of school and residential trips, and has freely given up her time to attend these residentials, and has recently accompanied Year 6 pupils to London and York!
Maria makes an idea become a reality and her motivation and enthusiasm is endless.
Maria started running a Toddler group at the local Salvation Army hall, once a week since her daughter was small. And 35 years later she is still running it!
When it was suggested maybe she could start one at school, despite her other commitments, she immediately set about bringing a group of parents together to set up and run a Toddler Group at school. She has sourced all of the toys and equipment, and they now have a well-attended thriving toddler group operating weekly at school.
This has had a huge effect on the community, giving parents and their toddlers a chance to socialise and meet. It has also given the children and parents the chance to become more familiar with the staff and the school from an early age and thus making that step into nursery far easier. The Toddler group is thriving and has just celebrated its first birthday.
In Maria’s spare(!) time, she is a member of the Cramlington Vintage motorbike Club and the Cramlington Veteran Bike Club. She has a passion for biking that has “rubbed off” on the staff and pupils of Eastlea. She has organised Key Stage 2 Bikeability courses, and Early Years and Key Stage 1 Balance Bikes within school, but not content with this, she wanted the children to then use these skills and be able to enjoy biking. With this in mind, she worked alongside another teaching assistants and office assistants to establish an after school bike club. Many of the pupils have not got bikes and Maria wanted to ensure that any child could take part so worked with Cycle Experience to source school bikes. Because of her efforts, theynow have ten bikes, school helmets, lights and even a bike shed.
Maria passed her bike leader’s training and organised bike maintenance training for the children. She then set up a weekly after-school ride for a bike club for the children. These rides have given the children the opportunity to use the cycle tracks around their local area. They have ranged from riding to the local parks in the area, to riding to Northumberlandia, Azure Garden centre to see the reindeer and even down for chips at Blyth Beach! Maria’s enthusiasm is never ending and as the children’s confidence has grown so have her plans. She has organised rides out to Druridge Bay and Whitley Bay for next term and she has a vision of a cycle visit to Amsterdam!
Councillor Ian Hutchinson, civic head of Northumberland County Council, welcomed everyone to the awards evening, saying: “All of the shortlisted entries should be very proud of all of their work, and I sincerely hope that they enjoyed this event, in the inspiring setting of The Alnwick Garden.
“The LOVE Northumberland awards are all about celebrating what individuals and groups do, largely in a voluntary capacity, to keep their local areas green and clean right across Northumberland. I have been extremely impressed by the quality and breadth of the work highlighted through the awards – and thank them all, on behalf of the residents and visitors who benefit.
“Her Grace the Duchess of Northumberland has been very generous in giving up her time each year to present prizes to the winners, and we are very grateful to her for this support.”
Pictured: Maria is presented with her LOVE Northumberland award by the Duchess of Northumberland.