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The Winifred Fowler Award

Bedford Borough Council is launching an award scheme to recognise the unpaid efforts of individuals on behalf of the community.


The Winifred Fowler Award is in memory of the late Winifred Fowler, the first female Mayor of Bedford (1971 – 72) and recognises the men and women, regardless of age or background, who selflessly give back to the Borough.


The award has been made possible by the bequest of Winifred’s family and from donations by two of Bedford Borough’s subsequent female Mayors, former Councillor Hazel Mitchell (2000) and Councillor Pat Olney (2001). The award is also supported by Bedford Midweek and the Community and Voluntary Service Mid and North Bedfordshire.
Nominations are being accepted throughout April to 7th June, after which a judging panel, led by Mayor Dave Hodgson, will meet to consider all of the nominees ahead of a presentation in the Mayor’s Parlour at the end of June. The Bedford Swan Hotel is also supporting the award and will be offering lunch for two in their River Room Restaurant to the winner.


Mayor of Bedford Borough Dave Hodgson said, “The aim of the Winifred Fowler Award is to recognise the ‘unsung’ heroes in our midst who dedicate their free time to working within the community on behalf of others. They could be someone who has established a local sports club, a stalwart in the local fundraising scene, or someone who goes out of their way to help elderly or infirm neighbours, for example. I know that there are many deserving individuals out there and I look forward to finding out more about these exceptional people throughout the nomination process.”


David Fowler, son of Winfred Fowler, said, “My mother was always heavily involved in the local community. She was a member of nearly forty committees and School Governorships, generally as Chairman or President. I am delighted that her memory is being perpetuated by this Award.” 


Nomination forms are available from the Council’s Customer Service Centre on Horne Lane in Bedford, Bedfordshire On Sunday’s Offices on Mill St. and the CVS centre on Bromham Road.

Please note that nominations must be submitted by Friday 7th June to be considered by the judging panel.

Further information regarding the Winifred Fowler Award:


Anyone living in the Borough of Bedford is eligible for this award with the exception of the following:

• Members and Officers of Bedford Borough Council
• Employees of Local World
• Employees of the North and Mid Bedfordshire CVS
• Organisations or groups


Additionally work that individuals are paid to carry out or that form part of their salaried role will not be eligible.


The judging panel is comprised of;

• Mayor of Bedford Borough Dave Hodgson
• David Fowler
• Hazel Mitchell
• Councillor Pat Olney
• Martin Trinder
• Steve Lowe, Editor for Bedford Midweek

Winifred Mary Fowler 1914 - 2001

Winifred Mary Fowler was born on 7th May 1914 in Queens Park in Bedford, the youngest of twelve children. She was educated at Queens Park School and later Bedford Girls Modern School until she left aged 14.


Winifred then went on to work at Bedford Post Office as a counter clerk and telegraphist.


Winifred married Ronald Fowler on 14th August 1937 and moved to Luton, where they had four children, but the family returned to Biddenham in 1961, when Winifred’s political career took off.


She was elected to Bedford Borough Council to represent Queens Park Ward in 1966 and appointed by Mayor Ron Whittingham as his Deputy in 1970.


In 1971 the Council took the historic decision to appoint Winifred as its first lady mayor, a position she held for a year.


In 1973 she was elected to the County Council for Castle Ward, whom she represented, until she retired in 1981. However, she maintained membership of many committees into her eighties, always at meetings and maintaining an active life.


Winifred died following a short illness on 13th December 2001.

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