Outstanding volunteers recognised at Somer Valley FM

L-R Dom with winners Jo and Seb

Somer Valley FM, the local community radio station based in North East Somerset, celebrated their hard-working volunteers on the 25th November at their annual celebration held at Bath College. The event brings together supporters of the station from across the community to thank them.

Richard Burgess, Station Manager of Somer Valley FM said, “This includes our educational partners, advertisers, and of course our amazing volunteers, which without there would be no local radio station for our area.

“I am keen to highlight the educational opportunities with Bath College who are now sponsoring us. I would like to thank our speakers, West of England Mayor Dan Norris, Bath & North East Somerset Councillor for Communities Dine Romero, Dom Chambers who leads our training, and our host Jayne Davis, Principle of Bath College. I am so grateful for their recognition of the important role Somer Valley FM plays in the community life of the area.”

Guests were treated to a tour of Bath College’s Somer Valley Campus which focusses on special educational needs as well as engineering and construction.

To round off the evening, the station recognised the work of volunteers by celebrating outstanding contributions from those who have gone above and beyond. After last year’s event could not go ahead, this year’s celebration ensured two volunteers were awarded the Outstanding Contribution to Community Broadcasting Award for 2020 and 2021.

The award was created by Dom Chambers, former Station Manager of Somer Valley FM and the founder of the Somer Valley Education Trust.

“It is my job at the Somer Valley Education Trust CIO, working with the station manager, to ensure we empower local people with a voice and the skills to make radio. That not only positively impacts on their professional development but also our audience as we are creating those locally trusted voices that are key to building a local radio listenership,” explained Dom.

Jayne Davis, Principle of Bath College, who hosted the event said: ‘It was great to be able to host the Somer Valley FM Annual Celebration on our Westfield campus. We were not only able to meet the amazing volunteers who work at the station but also connect with local businesses and showcase our great facilities. We are proud to sponsor SVFM and hope that this is that start of many events to come.’

The Somer Valley FM Outstanding Contribution to Community Broadcasting Award for 2020 went to Jo Davis. After losing a parent to cancer during the first Coronavirus lockdown, Jo was concerned about coping with grief during a time of social isolation.

When she learnt that radio presenters could continue working from studios, Jo volunteered to launch the first ever breakfast show on Somer Valley FM.

“It was an amazing contribution for the radio station and its listeners but it was also a reaction to her needs which is a great combination.

“She is a very high achieving, very energetic person and she hosts a wonderful, amazing local radio show so it seemed entirely fitting for her to win the 2020 award. The remarkable thing is that she does all this before going to her job as a finance officer.” said Dom.

Speaking about her win Jo said, “I feel truly humbled to win this award. It’s been a tough 18 months for everyone and every volunteer at Somer Valley FM has really stepped up to support the local community.

“To be honest the Breakfast Show saved me and has really helped me through a difficult time. I am almost embarrassed to have been given an award as I feel I owe the award to the station.

“The main aim of Somer Valley Breakfast was to bring some light hearted fun and positivity to any listeners in the local area who needed an escape from all that was happening around them.

“It’s not always easy getting up early, but once the headphones are on, a great song is playing in my ears, and I’m drinking my first coffee of the day, then I’m in my happy place. Hopefully that oozes over the airwaves. If I can make one person laugh or smile each morning then it’s all worth it.”

The second award winner of the night was Seb Bailey. When Seb was placed on part-time furlough from his employer, he took on some volunteer work for the station.

“Seb looks after all the new music and brings in the latest tracks people might want to hear, but then removes them later down the line so you don’t end up with a system clogged with hits that people no longer want to hear. He does all the drive time shows and is an amazing contributor,” explained Dom.

To Seb, Somer Valley FM is more than just a local radio station, it is a foundation for him to develop his skills.

“I’m so grateful to Somer Valley FM for the support I have received from everyone involved, and to have been recognised for my own commitment to the station which only symbolises a drop in the ocean to the time and love the whole team give to keep the Somer Valley entertained and informed,” commented Seb.

Speaking after the event Dom Chambers added, “I would like to congratulate Richard on putting together an excellent celebration. It was wonderful to see so many of our supporters coming together.

“Richard has done incredibly well in raising our profile with the business community while developing the educational partnerships and training opportunities. Additionally, I could not be more pleased that the work of Jo and Seb has been recognised through the Outstanding Contribution to Community Broadcasting awards.”