Bourne fundraiser Nellie is a community champion

Fundraiser Nellie Sanders, seated, is awarded the first Bourne Community Champion Award. She is pictured with some of the people that help at her fundraising lunches, from left, Marlene Banks, Teresa Dunthorne, Julie Smith, Mary Hunt and Lynne Mclean.  Photo: MSMP-18-12-15-am006 EMN-151218-114401001
Fundraiser Nellie Sanders, seated, is awarded the first Bourne Community Champion Award. She is pictured with some of the people that help at her fundraising lunches, from left, Marlene Banks, Teresa Dunthorne, Julie Smith, Mary Hunt and Lynne Mclean. Photo: MSMP-18-12-15-am006 EMN-151218-114401001

A beloved fundraiser has been honoured for her years of hard work after being named Bourne’s first community champion.

Nellie Sanders, 92, of Gladstone Street, was presented with a framed certificate and a bunch of flowers by mayor of Bourne Philip Knowles on Friday.

Fundraiser Nellie Sanders, seated, is awarded the first Bourne Community Champion Award. She is pictured with mayor and mayoress of Bourne Philip and Norma Knowles.''Photo: MSMP-18-12-15-am004 EMN-151218-114317001

Fundraiser Nellie Sanders, seated, is awarded the first Bourne Community Champion Award. She is pictured with mayor and mayoress of Bourne Philip and Norma Knowles.''Photo: MSMP-18-12-15-am004 EMN-151218-114317001

Nellie was surrounded at home by family and friends, many of whom have been helpers at her regular fundraising lunches over the years.

Bourne Town Council hopes to make the community champion award an annual presentation, and will open it up for nominations in the future. But there was only one contender to win the inaugural prize.

Nellie, who only this year decided she no longer had the stamina to keep doing her lunches, said: “It’s marvellous. I didn’t know anything about it.

“It’s really nice to know that people appreciate what I have been doing.”

Nellie hosted her final lunch at Bourne Abbey Church Hall in September. More than 50 people turned up to enjoy a delicious meal and good company.

Since she began raising money for charity 30 years ago, Nellie has hosted countless lunches and handed over thousands of pounds to various charities.

Her first lunch was for a cause close to her heart.

“My first husband died of cancer,” she said. “He was 66 and had just drawn his pension. It was very sad for him to go that way.”

The lunch went so well that Nellie continued raising money, and her events became a fixture of Bourne’s social calendar.

The last of Nellie’s lunches raised £1,200, which was be shared equally between WaterAid and the British Heart Foundation.

And she may have called time on her fundraising, but Nellie is still keen to be a good host. Even while receiving her award on Friday she was offering drinks and food to her many guests.

“I’ve made some great friends over the years,” she said.

Mayor of Bourne Philip Knowles presented Nellie with her award and gave a short speech thanking her for decades of hard work and service to the community.

Coun Knowles said the idea to honour Nellie came from Neighbourhood Watch volunteer Kay Henderson.

“She rang me to say Nellie was retiring, and was there anything that we could do for her,” said the mayor. “I suggested to the council that we inaugurate the community champion award.

“I suggested Nellie and everyone thought there would be no-one better.

“She has been raising money for charity for years. She’s one of those people that just does things.

“She recognises that people need help. Everyone thought she was the perfect recipient.”

The council wants to make the award an annual thing.

“Next year we will throw it open to the public for nominees,” said Coun Knowles.