The Civic Appreciation Award is awarded to people in recognition of their service and dedication to the local community.

Roll of Civic Appreciation of the Borough

Steve Hill MBE

Steve has been teaching in Oldham for 24 years and Deputy Headteacher at St Joseph’s Primary School for 17 years.

Steve inspires and instills confidence in the children to develop themselves both academically and physically to hopefully achieve their full potential in life.  Leading by example, he sets personal challenges for fundraising and continually strives to inspire the children that anything is possible. ‘Mr. Hill’s Challenges' always involve the children he teaches, and over the last 10 years has helped to raise over £100,000 for a variety of charities.

His personal challenges have included climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and Mont Blanc, completing an expedition through the Arctic wilderness with huskies, trekking 200 miles through the Sahara Desert completing North Pole Marathon, and many more challenges.

Steve delivers talks and presentations to other schools and youth groups. He is an Ambassador and Gold Presenter for the DofE Award.  Steve has been awarded an MBE for services to Education and Charity - along with multiple other awards including National Teaching Award, Inspirational Teacher of the Year, National Happiest School Person, and Adventurer of the Year.

Steve is also the founder of Team Hill Charitable Trust. Along with his team of volunteers has undertaken food shops for the elderly and vulnerable, organised comfort bags for COVID-19 patients, and toy appeal for the Children’s Ward at the Royal Oldham Hospital during the Coronavirus pandemic.


Myra Wyers, 2020

Myra has been involved with many local charities including Oldham Disability Alliance, Oldham Disability Arts Group and Action Together.

Myra started the Oldham Disability Arts Group over 30 years ago in the then disability centre, New Vale House. She was instrumental in getting its replacement, the Link Centre and played a big part in planning the design of the building to make sure it was accessible for people with a range of disabilities.

When the function of the Link Centre changed a few years ago, Myra fought to keep the Oldham Disability Arts Group going in the centre and they still meet several times a week to do handicrafts, painting and to share social time. Myra is herself a wheelchair user but gives of her time, her creativity and her money to support people through organising and leading the Oldham Disability Arts Group and some of them she supports personally.

Myra was voted Oldham Woman of the Year 1999, and Volunteer of the Year by Voluntary Action Oldham in 2000.

Myra is a great champion of disability rights in Oldham.

Alan Noble and Trevor Warren, 2019

Each year the Oldham branch of the Royal British Legion raise an average of £70K and has won the Norman Webster Memorial Shield for 7 consecutive years for raising the most money in the North West.

Alan is President of the Oldham Branch and Trevor, Chairman and Poppy Appeal organiser.  They start the fundraising campaign every October during the period of Remembrance until the following September, and organise Oldham’s Annual Festival of Remembrance.

Both with military backgrounds, Alan and Trevor met through the Royal British Legion and have dedicated over 20 years to serving members of the armed forces past and present.  Trevor is currently also the Vice Chair and Alan is Chair of Oldham’s Liaison of Ex-Servicemen Association.

The Oldham Liaison applied for a grant of £30K from the War Grave Commission towards the refurbishment of Oldham’s War Memorial.

Passionate about Oldham, Alan and Trevor have undertaken the role of Parade Marshalls for Oldham’s Remembrance Sunday and Mayor’s Civic Sunday Procession for over 20 years and continue to lead with other commemorative and civic parades in the town.

The Oldham Liaison also organise the M62 Bombing Memorial event held at Hartshead Moor Service Station each year to commemorate those that lost their lives in the bombing, and in remembrance of those that died from Oldham.

They also both support the homeless community in central Manchester.

Reverend Jean Hurlston, 2018

Reverend Hurlston, Associate Priest of Oldham Parish Church has recently been appointed Borough Dean for Oldham. She is also the  first female Church of England chaplain at Manchester Airport.

Jean is employed as Lead Chaplain at Ashton Sixth Form College and as a Health Care Chaplain at Tameside Hospital. Jean is a teacher by profession and met her husband at Teacher Training College. They have been married for 41 years and have three children and three grandchildren.

Jean has worked in the voluntary sector for over 30 years and has contributed to the delivery of a broad range of community projects.  

Passionate about Oldham and its community, Jean set up a scheme in 2011 – known as Oldham Street Angels. The scheme has volunteers from all faiths and none.

Jean and her dedicated band of volunteers give up a number of hours to help local people and work with a range of partners across the borough, including Oldham Council, Greater Manchester Police and Oldham Clinical Commissioning Group.

Oldham Street Angels operate from 11pm on Saturday nights ensuring the safety of residents and visitors to the town centre. This includes preventing crime, offering medical treatment to individuals if they are injured, escorting people to safe places and providing other appropriate support.

Mr Dave Benstead, 2017

Mr Benstead was presented with this award in recognition of his significant voluntary contribution and dedication to local businesses, and to the community of Oldham.

Joining Zetex PLC in Chadderton over 20 years ago as HR Director, he was invited to join the Executive Board of EEF (Engineering Employers Federation) in 1997 soon taking a policy role.  He became Treasurer and then President using his network of contact and influences to support Oldham businesses.  He sits on the EEF’s National Employment Policy and Skills Committee and Pensions Policy Working Group and is a member of their Regional Advisory Board.

Mr Benstead was invited to Chair the Oldham Economic Partnership and it was this group that developed into the Oldham Economy and Enterprise Board until 2008.  In 2009, he formed the Oldham Business Leadership Group (PBLG), a board made up of business leaders with a focus on economic growth in Oldham. 

In 2011, he was presented with the Queen’s Award for Enterprise Promotion by HM The Queen at a ceremony in Buckingham Palace.

He chairs the Oldham Enterprise Trust and under his leadership, it has supported over 100 businesses with grants and loans, creating almost 200 new jobs in the town.  He has worked with Oldham schools with over 300 young people taking part in enterprise related activities during 2016, driven the uptake of initiatives with Young Enterprise and Primary Engineer and encouraging young people with STEM subjects via initiatives with schools and engineering companies.

Mr Benstead is also a Governor at Oldham Sixth Form College, a Director at Mahdlo, and recently joined the fundraising board of the Oldham Maggie’s Centre.

Ms Freda Millett, 2016

Freda has written 13 books that chronicle the social history of Oldham of the town over the last 200 years through memories, photographs, and personal recollections and the reflections of residents.

Freda worked as Oldham’s Assistant Curator and Keeper of Local History at the Local Studies and Archives.  While working there, she organised a series of exhibitions and started her publishing career.   She retired in 1994 and a year later received the prestigious Woman of Oldham Award.

Freda was one of the founder members of Oldham Children’s Holiday Homes Project 41 years ago.  Freda still serves on the committee of the charity which has provided more than 2000 children from Oldham with a holiday in North Wales.

Freda continues to research and write, and is a regular speaker at local events and beyond.

Mr David McGealy, 2015

David McGealy received his award thanks to his volunteering and contribution to community life.

David joined Radio Cavell, a service for the patients of the then Oldham and District General Hospital, as a volunteer in 1974 and helped establish it as a quality hospital radio service. The station won the coveted “Hospital Radio Station of the Year Award” in 2000.

It was during the 1990s his interest in “community radio” began to grow and he produced a range of programmes for patients to enjoy. At this time he also became part of Oldham’s team introducing teachers to the use of computers as part of lessons.

In 2004 a team lead by David founded Oldham Community Radio 99.7fm and started broadcasting not for profit community radio.

Since then the station has established a reputation for quality volunteer broadcasting and has built up an audience in and out of the borough.

Mr Roger Tanner DL MBE, 2014

Roger served as a member of Saddleworth Urban District from 1957-1970 and as Chairman in 1963.  From 1975-76, he was a member of Saddleworth Parish Council.  He was a founder member of Saddleworth Chamber Concert Society in 1974 and Chairman of the Friends of the Royal Northern College of Music in 1977. 

With his interest in local history, he founded Saddleworth Museum and Saddleworth Civic Trust.  Roger is also the Chairman of Saddleworth Festival of Arts.  Roger joined Greenfield Cricket Club in his youth and his family donated the Tanner Cup which is played for by the Saddleworth & District League.  He still remains President of the League. 

Roger became a Deputy Lieutenant in 1979 and was awarded the MBE for services to arts in Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2003.

Mr Cliff Ellison, 2013

Mr Ellison was presented with this award in recognition of his outstanding services and dedication to the voluntary sector in Oldham and through his role as Executive Director of Groundwork Oldham and Rochdale.

Mr Ellison, who became Executive Director of Groundwork Oldham and Rochdale in August 2007, has made a huge contribution to making Groundwork the successful organisation it is today. He has ensured that the organisation’s work which covers environmental issues, regeneration, youth and community work, business support, employment and training is effectively connected within local communities, borough and group projects. This results in Groundwork creating projects and services that benefit people, the environment and the wider society of Oldham. 

Mr Harry Burns BEM, 2012

Mr Harry Burns was the first person to be presented with the Civic Appreciation.  Mr Burns has been actively involved in tenant’s activities for the last 30 years, holding the position of Chairman at Barker Street Tenants Association.

Mr Burns was a founder member of the FCHO ALMO Board in 2002 and was nominated as the Vice Chair in 2002, and then Chair of the Main Board in 2004.

Mr Burns strongly believes that tenants should be at the heart of all decisions regarding their homes and communities.