The unsung hero next door

Fiona Thomas has been given a BCH award for being a good neighbour
Fiona Thomas has been given a BCH award for being a good neighbour
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“Everybody needs good neighbours”.

Or so the well-known TV show theme tune goes.

And Fiona Thomas would certainly agree.

Her commitment to being a good neighbour recently earned her an award.

The 35-year-old, who lives in Anchorsholme, was named Number One Neighbour in the Blackpool Coastal Housing Community Heroes Awards.

She was nominated for her dedication to her neighbours and community – including providing support for elderly residents, carrying out shopping trips for those who are housebound, volunteering at a charity shop and being a member of the residents’ association.

Fiona was presented with her trophy at a glittering ceremony at Viva Showbar, in Blackpool.

But to Fiona, everything she does to help people is simply her trying to be a good neighbour.

She also acts as a carer to her mum, Mavis, who has rheumatoid arthritis and who has to use a wheelchair after suffering crushed vertebrae nine weeks ago.

Fiona, who has battled with her own issues – including dyslexia – said: “I felt excited and pleased about winning the award, but to me, helping out is something which feels like it just comes naturally.

“I don’t like to think of anybody struggling, so I like to help them out when I can.

“And I enjoy helping people, because I know I am making a difference.”

Fiona helps to look after one of her elderly neighbours, who is disabled and has no family living in the local area.

She does her shopping, helps her with chores and errands she needs running and spends time with her – providing her with company, cups of tea and conversation, to make sure she is not lonely.

Fiona helps other neighbours too, as well as being a member of the residents’ committee.

She also helps out at community events, delivers leaflets on behalf of the committee and attends regular meetings.

She also volunteers at the local charity shop, which raises money for Blackpool Carers Centre.

Mavis, a mother-of-four and grandmother-of-six, said: “Fiona just enjoys helping others and she’s such a big help to me.

“I have carers come in who are fantastic, but Fiona does tasks like the housework, washing, cooking meals and so on.

“I used to be a nurse, so perhaps that feeling of carers for others has rubbed off on Fiona.

“She hasn’t had things easy herself, and has had lots of obstacles to overcome in life, but she always think of other people.

“We both believe a sense of community is important and it’s a good thing for neighbours to look out for each other.”

Fiona added: “I feel it’s important to try to be a good neighbour. I think if everybody helped each other more, it could make life better.”