Prime Minister David Cameron has handed a new volunteer award to a man who helped Boston’s flood victims cope with the devastation of December 5.
Mark Whelan is the fourth recipient of a Point of Light Award, which recognises outstanding individual volunteers, people who are making a change in their community and inspiring others. Each day someone across the country is selected to receive the award to celebrate their remarkable achievements.
The new award has been developed in partnership with the hugely successful Points of Light programme in America, which was established by President George HW Bush, and has since recognised over 5000 individuals and has the support of President Barack Obama.
A Government spokesman said Mr Whelan has become England’s fourth Point of Light winner today because of his ‘amazing efforts’ galvanising an army of volunteers to raise money for those affected by the floods.
In December Mark coordinated a group of about 30 volunteers, set up a Facebook group called Get Boston Back On Its Feet and has so far raised £16,000 which is now being used to help people buy white goods for their homes.
After the flood, Mark set up a stall in the town centre, asking for toy donations, so that the children affected still had Christmas presents.
He got 300 presents and to this day Mark is at the centre of the drive to rebuild Boston and help people get back into their homes.
Speaking about awarding Mark the fourth UK Point of Light Prime Minister David Cameron said: “I am recognising Mark as a Point of Light because of his sheer determination to help get his community back on its feet. He has shown real commitment to the clean-up effort long after the flood waters receded.
“Mark took the initiative and showed real compassion for children whose parents lost everything in the floods, making sure that they didn’t miss out on presents at Christmas.”
Mr Whelan said: “I’m representing a group of volunteers from Boston who helped and are still helping the community get back on its feet. The people of our town have put in a lot of time, effort and money to help alleviate the problems caused by the floods.
“It was surreal to be in the cabinet room talking to the other volunteers and to then meet the Prime Minister and have a conversation with him about our work to help Boston. I feel extremely privileged that the work our group has achieved has been officially acknowledged and I am exceptionally honoured to have been recognised as one of the first ever five Points of Light on behalf of the volunteers of Boston.”
Mark has also been recognised by ITV’s Daybreak, who selected him as one of their flood heroes as part of their campaign to recognise people who made an outstanding contribution to their community in the aftermath of the floods.
The Government has been working in partnership with ITV to find to recognise people who have made an outstanding contribution to their community and asked them to find the first five Points of Light.
Mr Whelan runs St George’s Prep School in Boston with his wife Sarah.