New Year’s honour for village volunteer after decades of serving the community
Jamie Honeywood Archant Norwich Norfolk
Years of work helping transform her community for the better have led to a British Empire Medal (BEM) for village volunteer Sophie Trend.
Mrs Trend, 54, threw herself into civic life at Wighton, nears Wells, after moving there from London in 1995.
The mother-of-two was a major force behind having a playground built in the village, and sourcing around £500,000 in grants to renovate Wighton’s All Saints’ Parish Church.
Mrs Trend said she was thrilled to have been included in the New Year’s Eve honours list for services to the community.
“I never expected anything like this,” she said. “It’s a complete surprise and I don’t know who put me forward.
“What we’ve done in our village probably goes on all over the UK, but it usually happens under the radar, so it’s great to get recognition. It’s a real honour to be singled out but I do think it’s for everybody - it’s been very much a team effort and a village effort.”
When Mrs Trend and her husband Nick, moved there after the birth of their second child, she realised Wighton had hardly any amenities for children.
So she initiated a fundraising charity and organised the building of a playground on donated land. The site has since become a focal point of village activities including its pantomime and scarecrow festival, which Mrs Trend also helps organise.
She is also the grants and project co-ordinator for the church’s 600 Anniversary Committee, successfully bidding for grants of £475,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund, £15,000 from the Garfield Weston Foundation and £5,000 from the Norfolk Churches Trust.
Mrs Trend said: “It was a big challenge to get it re-roofed, and we’ve just come to the end of that project. The next thing on the cards is improving the village hall.”
Mrs Trend, a freelance journalist, is also member of the parish council and the parochial church council. She said there was doubt that trading city life for the village was the right choice.
She said: “We first moved to Blakeney for a year and really loved it, so we decided to make Norfolk our home.
“Wighton has got a really good atmosphere and there’s a lot of things going on through the year. It’s a friendly village that still has a lot of community spirit.
“We have lots of holidaymakers, but they join in as well.”