A hard-working teacher has earned himself the accolade of Rochford District’s Citizen of the Year thanks to his work in the community.
Martin Butler, 52, is an active member of Hawkwell Baptist church and spends a lot of time working with young people.
He is also known for helping a football team of ex-offenders to play locally in order to help with their rehabilitation into everyday life. On top of this, he finds time to fundraise for various charities.
Mr Butler, who works at Kingswood Junior School, in Basildon, said: “'It was, to say the least, a complete surprise to receive the award. I am sure there are far more deserving people than myself.”
His efforts have included being a helper with the Boys’ Brigade and Youth Club, and in 2012 he started a youth group for children from church families and their friends called TLC (which stands for The Lord’s Crew).
The youngsters meet on a Sunday evening and participate in playing instruments and singing in a youth band, short drama productions relating to a topic that means something to them, and they also have time to share problems and achievements with each other. With Mr Butler’s guidance, several of the older teenagers have gone on to lead family services at the church by themselves.
Until recently, he also managed Hawkwell Baptist Church Youth Football Team. He now manages Hawkwell Baptist Church Men’s Team which is open to church and non-church members and has recently supported 'Achievement Through Football' (a Shoebury organisation) to arrange for the acceptance of a team of ex-offenders into the Football League of Churches.
Mr Butler, who lives in Rochford, added: “I enjoy helping out in the activities I have been recognised for although I won't take credit for them - the church’s junior and senior football leagues existed long before I became involved.
“I have been a committed Christian for many years and recognise that for young people today, it can be quite a tough thing to do to say you go to church. Hawkwell provides many activities for our local youngsters and I just felt it was right to provide our church kids something to keep them engaged beyond primary school years, in addition to the already successful youth club and Boys' and Girls' Brigades in the church, so I began a Sunday night group for them which although I am no longer running, still exists."
Mr Butler also runs various quiz nights which have raised funds for charities including ‘Smellies for the Sick’, which provides toiletries for those who are taken into hospital unexpectedly, and’ LOSS’ which is a local charity which supports children and young people who have suffered a significant loss in their lives.
He said: “We couldn't believe that people were charging charity events up to a £100 to organise a quiz when writing a few questions takes such a little time. We literally take a token payment to cover printing costs.
“It seems immoral to take anything for doing them really, particularly when they are such a worthwhile causes. And to be honest, we enjoy doing them!”
Mr Butler was honoured at a gala evening at the Mill Arts & Events Centre, Rayleigh, which was hosted by the Chairman of Rochford District Council, Councillor Barbara Wilkins.
She said: “Despite having a young family Martin continues to tirelessly support the local community in all aspects, both through his church and outside of it. I feel that the Citizen of the Year Award is extremely important because it gives us a chance to honour people like Martin who make such a difference to the lives of the people around them. He is a great asset to the whole community and his commitment and enthusiasm deserves recognition.”