A former youth worker who campaigns tirelessly to improve her village has received the Chairman’s Medal.
The Chairman’s Medal is the highest honour that Durham County Council can award to individuals and organisations for outstanding voluntary contribution to County Durham.
Chairman of Durham County Council, John Lethbridge, presented the award to Joyce Unsworth, from Thornley, at a ceremony in County Hall and praised her enthusiasm and determination.
“I’m very honoured to be presented with the Chairman’s Medal. I feel appreciated and I am very proud.”
Joyce has lived her whole life in Thornley, a village which was greatly affected by the closure of its colliery in 1970. She helped to form the New Thornley Partnership, a group of volunteers who came together to revive the village, working to regenerate the area and provide its community with a sense of pride.
Working tirelessly to attract money to develop the area, Joyce has successfully secured funding for two new play areas for Thornley and the first Home Zone safe play area in County Durham. In her drive to improve the area, she travelled to Wales’ Rhonda Valley to learn how its former mining villages had been revitalised.
Joyce encourages Thornley residents to remember and honour their war heroes, and recently played a leading role in local celebrations for the WW1 centenary.
After years of fundraising and campaigning by a team of volunteers, led by Joyce, a new community centre opened in Thornley in 2014 and as chair of the parish council she continues to identify and apply for funding opportunities to improve facilities.
Joyce is a grandmother and mother of five who studied for a degree in youth and community work as a mature student. In March this year she retired from her job as a Durham County Council youth worker helping young people across East Durham to find work.
Being retired has given Joyce more time to spend on her new Civic Pride project, Pride in Thornley.