By Nick Clarke (Communications team, Guildford Diocese)
Alexandra Sanderson, Project Manager at St Marys’ Ash Vale, has been recognised in the recent Queen’s New Year Honours list. Alex who’s worshipped at St Mary’s since 2008 was awarded the “Medal of the Order of the British Empire” (BEM) for services to the community in Ash Vale, particularly during Covid-19.
Before lockdown, she led various projects both at St Mary’s and at the Chapel Project, a joint venture with the local Methodist Circuit.
When in-person activities were closed by Covid, Alex and other volunteers took their services directly to the community and those in need. “We worked in partnership with local groups to turn our lunch club into a food parcels project” she said. “It meant we had regular contact with families and could see how they were doing and offer other help. At Christmas we asked for donations and did toys and hampers, both this year and last. It’s incredible how generous people have been.” The food parcel service continues today.
“It’s been quite a year and a half!” says Alex. “Rev Neil has been a huge inspiration, with services in the carpark, online and outside. I followed suit, with toddler groups, Chapel Poets and Messy Church all happening in new ways – we even turned the Light Party into a treasure trail! We’ve added food parcels, a baby support group and community cafe, all in response to local needs.
“Alex is a great collaborator,” says the Revd Neil Lambert, Vicar of St Mary’s. “She works so well with others, getting the very best from them and she tenacious. If something needs to happen, Alex will make it happen,” he says.
Alex will receive her honour at a local ceremony, and there’s the promise of an invitation to a Buckingham Palace Garden Party in the summer, Covid permitting.