I have now attended two Pride of Guernsey awards and have been touched by the dedication of the nominees as well as the incredible organisation it takes to the make the whole thing possible. The Guernsey Press staff work 12-hour days to make the event so magical.
The evening was compered by the charismatic Carl Ward, joined on stage by co-hosts Andy and Jo Priaulx. This year, I was fortunate enough to be a judge and part of my role was hosting the category of Parish Champion of the Year. The award acknowledges some of the extraordinary people who go the extra mile for their community and help to make this island so special.
The shortlist was whittled down to three finalists, three exceptional people all devoted to serving their parish in various ways. The audience sat listening to each nominee’s story and when the applause wound to a close, the winner’s name was announced.
When Bert Fallaize of St Peter’s was named the winner that evening, who could have predicted the ripple effect of kindness that would follow?
Two weeks later, I met with Bert and his wife Brenda for an interview. Curious, I asked what he was planning to do with his £1,000 prize. Bert’s answer was the drop in the water that would send kindness rippling outwards.
He stated simply that £1,000 was too much money to waste and that he wanted to put it to good use. He was apprehensive about cashing the cheque, with no designs of grandeur for his winnings. A proud but humble man, Bert explained that two windows in the couple’s home were overdue some repair and the money would go towards their restoration.
Brenda, who suffers from back pain, quipped cheekily, ‘But I would like a hot tub for my back,’ knowing this was a pie-in-the-sky proposal that would court little consideration.
People like Bert are rare; who give selflessly to brighten the lives of others. It seemed wrong that after so many years of altruism, Bert wouldn’t be using his prize money to finally treat himself. From that interview the seed was planted and all that was needed was a group of people with a will like Bert’s to help.
The Parish Champion of the Year award was sponsored by A7 Design. After the event Andre Bisson spent days calling up colleagues and explaining about Bert and his story, asking them all to help him and to give something back. In true Nick Knowles style Andre wanted to do a DIY SOS on Bert’s property. They then then set about planning how we could repay some of the kindness Bert has shown his parish over so many years.
Andre Bisson and the new team visited the couple to offer due congratulations and reveal the good news, but on arriving at the property realised their help could stretch a little further. The last person to ask for anything, Bert was completely overwhelmed by Andre’s offer.
First, A7 Design with the help of Tim Benstead from Westglass 2000, Marc Isabelle from ForeSite Surveying Services and Phil Guille Construction would supply and install all of Bert and Brenda’s windows throughout the property, free of charge. Then Phil noticed all of the fascias on the back of the house needed replacing, and the back and front doors. And yes, you guessed it, the team are going to include that too.
Then as the ripple of generosity spread wider, Gillingham Pools stepped in to help, providing and installing the hot tub Brenda had been dreaming of.
With his windows now sorted, Bert could now use his prize money for something truly special. I imagined a nice holiday or a shopping spree would be just the ticket.
But nothing could have been more special than his reply. Overwhelmed, Bert asked if Andre would take back the prize money as he now felt he’d had too much to be able to keep it. When of course we politely declined, Bert put the cheque back into the hands that had given it to him on that October evening, donating it to Jo Priaulx of the Priaulx Premature Baby Foundation. A final act of kindness that will go on to help many local families through a difficult time.
I would like to thank everyone who had a hand in this wonderful sequence of gestures. This is a true story of simple kindness and I hope this gesture that started with a man’s good deed will spread island wide to other businesses.
u You can keep up with this inspirational story in GYOne magazine and in The Guernsey Press as we follow Bert and Brenda’s home renovation.