Wiltshire magazine meets the counties 'People of Power' Pt 2

PUBLISHED: 10:42 08 January 2013 | UPDATED: 22:36 20 February 2013

Andy Rhind-Tutt and HM the Queen in Salisbury this May. Below: The Mayor with one of the new Historic Amesbury signs

Andy Rhind-Tutt and HM the Queen in Salisbury this May. Below: The Mayor with one of the new Historic Amesbury signs

Continuing our series meeting interesting individuals with a significant county presence

Influence & prominence

Continuing our series meeting interesting individuals with a significant county presence

Words: Fiona Scott

Dawn Prosser

Dawn Prosser lives in Swindon, is married to Kevin, and is a mum to 15-year-old Rachel. But shes also been like a mum to at least 20 young people who have struggled to live a normal family life. Shes currently setting up supported housing for vulnerable adults who need a helping hand to live independently, and has been shortlisted by a leading supermarket as Community Mum of the Year. Dawn moved to Swindon in 1995 after meeting and marrying her husband Kevin in a whirlwind romance. A committed Christian, shed left her former home in Kent as she felt she needed to be in the west. Since that time her life has changed beyond recognition. When her daughter Rachel was small, she helped out a young person by offering them a place to stay when life at home was just too difficult. This started a trend which was to shape Dawns future. She realised she liked helping others gain important life skills, and was soon registered with the local council as providing supported lodgings. From 2005, she began fostering.

A passionate and accomplished cook, Dawn was also looking at ways of making her hobby into a career.

Today I am a qualified teacher and I travel all over the borough teaching cooking from scratch to anyone, of any age, who needs that kind of life skill and support. Each person has to contribute just 2 towards the cost of ingredients, and they get a crche facility, they cook, their children join them to eat, and they also have enough left to take home for a family tea.

More recently, Dawn and her own family have taken on the challenging role of providing support and fostering for mothers and children who need to be monitored to see if they are suitable parents. These parents may have had problems with addiction or may have learning difficulties. This can mean a 24-hour line-of-sight order where the child must never be out of their sight at any time during the initial weeks of a placement. Theyve even supported a mother and a father with learning difficulties to keep their child.

This just brings together all the things I want to do, I can teach them to cook, Im a budget planner so I can help them manage money, and I can get help for them to deal with whatever problems they face. Its about helping people get their lives back on track.

With the help of a charity, she has rented the house next door to her family home as a property for the use of vulnerable families. Shes currently looking for another property to do the same. Kevin and Dawn are also running the Gateway Furniture Project through their church in West Swindon which provides free furniture and white goods to families in need.

At the moment we are helping up to 50 families a month. We can take white goods too which we test prior to giving them out. The service is free, each family can have up to four items for a 10 donation. They get to come to choose what they want from our stock and that gives them a sense of pride and dignity.

I know it sounds as if I do a lot of things but, as a family, we do make time for each other. We work term-times but we always have school holidays together, and for a certain time each day we set aside time for Rachel.

And if anyone is in any doubt about the impact Dawn, Kevin and Rachel have had on the lives of others, heres the feelings of one young woman who was anxious to be heard.Both me and my partner are very much grateful for the help they have given us so that we can keep our baby. We still have them supporting me and my partner and Im really happy.

To donate furniture or find out more about the project, visit gatewaychurchswindon.org.uk or call 0771 409 1011.

Andy Rhind-Tutt

Andy is a former mayor of Amesbury, entrepreneur, energetic charity campaigner and passionate public servant. Hes descended from Sir Alexander Tutt, who was the High Sheriff in the county in 1604 and MP for Royal Wootton Bassett. Hes married to Becky and the couple have four children.

Andy Rhind-Tutt is one of Wiltshires larger-than-life, enthusiastic philanthropists who also happens to be a successful sales and marketing entrepreneur. Born at Stapleford, he attended Bishop Wordsworths School before embarking on an apprenticeship with Southern Electric. Over a 24-year career, he rose from electrician through to contracts manager, ending his time as the operations manager for the largest street lighting maintenance contract in Hampshire.

As a public servant, hes been a councillor for 13 years, seven years with Amesbury Town Council and a school governor for ten years. In 2003 he was Chairman of the Institution of Lighting Engineers, and today he is an active member of the Rotary Club of Wilton where he is currently serving as President.

One of my proudest moments was receiving the Paul Harris Fellowship award after undertaking one of the largest fundraising events ever held in Wilton in 2005 for Caring 4 Cancer.

To manage the event I took three months off work, and with my colleagues from Wilton, Salisbury and Amesbury Rotary Clubs, we organised an event which saw 613 guests attend an amazing evening at Wilton House, hosted by Johnnie Walker. There was a 4-course dinner and auction and we raised 54,000 for charity.

Following this event Andy helped found the Stars Appeal for Salisbury Hospital, and remains an active Patron and committee member. Supporting local charities, the local community and making things happen for the best is what drives me. Im motivated by helping others and I truly believe that if you dont kick the ball it will never move out of the long grass!

Andy became the 12th Mayor of Amesbury in May 2011 and was determined to spend his year not just attending events and cutting ribbons, but putting Amesbury on the map. On the first night he launched his initiative One Town, One Vision. The purpose was to use the build-up to the Olympics and the Diamond Jubilee to bring the whole community together in activities.

Over 1,000 people took part, and during the year the Amesbury Economic Regeneration Partnership was formed, along with the Amesbury Museum and Heritage Trust. The aim is to ensure Amesbury becomes a thriving and sustainable tourist destination.

I managed to secure support for raising the precept to purchase a site for a new Museum, highlighting Amesburys heritage and creating a catalyst for the regeneration of the town through increasing visitor numbers.

New signs were designed and erected, new businesses started taking an interest, and the highlight came when I managed to get Amesbury in the limelight when the Queen visited Salisbury on May Day and made the Amesbury tent her first visit.

In October Andy heard that his regeneration partnership had secured 10,000 funding from the Governments Portas Pilot Scheme. The money will be used to fund guides and create a much-needed coach-friendly scheme aimed at bringing tourists into Amesbury to boost local businesses.

Wiltshire is a great county with so much to offer. I was honoured to have been one of the countys mayors last year and to have done my bit in representing Amesbury to the best of my ability. I will cherish the moment I met HM the Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh, and hope that if nothing else I will be remembered for doing my very best for Amesbury and hopefully inspiring others to do the same. A positive approach is all thats needed to make a big difference.

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