Brent’s community champions honoured

The borough’s unsung heroes are celebrated at town hall awards ceremony

Brent’s unsung heroes were honoured last week in an awards ceremony at the town hall.

The Times spoke to three of these community champions who picked up awards for their tireless community work.

Brian Stroud: Picked up an award for his 40 years of work in the scouts

Brian Stroud never meant to get involved in Scouts. But 40 years later, he’s still helping children learn life skills through the group’s regular meetings and trips.

Having never been a scout himself, Mr Stroud joined up after a friend of his asked his asked him to coach the Brent Scouts football club by the group’s leader.

Along with his partner, Mr Stroud leads a group of 24 Beaver Scouts and 32 cub scouts. He estimates he’s helped nearly 1200 children since joining the organization as a leader.

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He said: “The most exciting thing is we go on camp twice a year.

“The scouts are actually about learning to get on with each other and learning life skills.

“Going on trips with the kids is just like having adults there, the funny thing is would you expect a 13 year old to be up at 7.30am having breakfast with the kids? The scouts bring these people together.”

“You see the kids just wanting to achieve and do well, and it’s just marvellous seeing that happen.”

While the scout leader wants to continue serving his community, he hopes to see new a new generation of leaders step up as well.

But it isn’t always been easy.

Before taking early retirement, Mr Stroud said he used to leave work early for Monday scouting meetings. Even when he moved out of Brent, he continued to travel to stay on as leader of the same Willesden Scouts group.

And when the church that had housed the group since the World War II was no longer available, Stroud stepped up as leader of the Kings Hall Community Centre so his group could use the space. In doing so, he managed to help other groups at the community centre keep their meeting places as well.

Navel Clarke: Honoured for his community work on Stonebridge’s St Raphael’s Estate

Navel Clarke’s community work in the troubled St. Raphael’s estate is focused on a dream.

He said he hopes the next generation will pick up where he leaves off. But that generation will be filling some large shoes.

Mr Clarke has just picked up a community champion award for the his volunteerism on the estate, which began in 2004, when a part time job as a sports coordinator inspired him to work with youngsters in Stonebridge. After the job’s funding ended, he began the Youth Sports Club to continue the same work—without the pay.

And he didn’t stop there. He founded the St. Raphael’s Social Community Club to young people living on the troubled estate with a centre they could visit, socialise, and pick up new skills.

For Mr Clarke, providing community spaces is about more than just occupying a teenager’s time for a couple of afternoons a week – it is about ensuring that people are involved in their area.

As Mr Clarke puts it: “Everybody has a say in the community, and everybody has a right.”

He tackles social issues in the community head-on. He’s created the Learn to Earn program, which gives youths who have dropped out of college, finished without skills or who are ex offenders to train as security at Twickenham Stadium.

Mr Clarke said all these efforts are part of his dream of improving the future for young people in the community.

He said “We identify that with the ongoing gang culture and we can’t solve it. The only thing we can do is prevent it from going on to the next generation.”

The next step is securing funding for a “hub” building to house all the activities taking off in St. Raphael’s. Clarke is hopeful.

“I’ve got young kids, I grew up in the area and I know that if I give up that’s it,” Clarke said.