Robin Cross Citizen of the Year 2024
Published: 15 January 2024
Photographed (from left to right): Lin Cross, Hayley Widger and Inspector Philip Gray.
Each year, Axminster Town Council recognises a community champion in memory of the late Robin Cross, who demonstrated unwavering commitment and service to Axminster as a Police Special Constable and through his other community-based roles. On 8th January, Axminster Town Council proudly announced Hayley Widger as the 2024 Robin Cross Citizen of the Year and were delighted that Lin Cross was able to join us to see the presentation of the award that bears her late husband’s name.
Since its inception, the Citizen of the Year title has recognised a diverse range of community-focused activities and voluntary work. This year's award holds special significance as Hayley is a serving Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) who remembers Robin from her childhood and was supported and inspired by him.
Upon receiving the award, Hayley expressed her gratitude, saying,
"I am incredibly grateful to be the 2024 recipient of the Robin Cross Award. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the people who nominated me and Axminster Town Council for sponsoring the award.
"Receiving it has been an absolute honour. I was privileged to have known Robin when he worked as a caretaker at my school, and also in his voluntary role as a Police Special Constable. Robin was a kind, fair and approachable man who supported me in many ways while growing up. I trusted Robin's judgement and I looked up to him. I was incredibly proud to become a Police Community Support Officer 10 years ago, and Robin's positive influence certainly helped me choose this role. Receiving an award in Robin's memory is a true honour.
"Working in the Axminster community is very important to me. It is a job that I love and I strive to do my best for the people I meet every day. I could not, however, do my job without the unwavering support I get from our community partners and working alongside some amazing people who also have Axminister's best interests at heart."
Hayley's commitment to community service has been exceptional, making her a standout candidate for the award amongst a particularly strong field. Hayley received more nominations than anyone else. Everyone highlighted her ability to build strong relationships with members of the public and acknowledged the remarkable level of trust she has cultivated with Axminster's youngest and most vulnerable residents as a person they can go to for support and advice. Her consistent and extraordinary efforts go above and beyond the call of duty.
Town Mayor, Cllr Jill Farrow, also commended Hayley, stating,
"The Town Council congratulates Hayley and expresses gratitude to everyone who took the time to submit nominations. We received an unprecedented number of nominations this year, all for people who serve Axminster admirably, underscoring the strength of community spirit in this town”
Rural East Devon Sector Inspector Philip Gray, said,
"I was delighted and extremely proud to be invited to attend the Axminster Town Council meeting to see PCSO Hayley Widger win the 2024 Robin Cross Award (Axminster Citizen of the Year).
"Hayley always goes above and beyond her duties as a PCSO, often doing great things for her community whilst off duty. Hayley is a valued member of the Neighbourhood Police Team in Rural East Devon and I am extremely grateful for all her hard work and dedication to her role and the community of Axminster.
"Finally, on behalf of her Neighbourhood Team colleagues and the wider Devon & Cornwall Police family, I'd like to congratulate her on winning the 2024 award"
A £100 donation is given to a charity of the recipient's choosing as part of the award. Hayley has selected Seaton Hospice at Home as the beneficiary.