Everton in the Community launched its Community First XI campaign earlier this week and Inspector Colin Lewis of Merseyside Police was the first inductee in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the Club’s official charity.
The Community First 11 campaign will see 11 individuals or organisations recognised for their unwavering support of Everton in the Community for the last five years or more and Goodison Park will play host to a celebration dinner for Community Champions in December.
The 11, have been or will be selected by the charity’s management team for having the vision to improve the community and the determination, creativity and ingenuity to make a difference.
Inspector Colin Lewis of Merseyside Police was the first inductee into the Community First 11 when he was surprised at an Everton in the Community Trustees meeting at Goodison earlier this week by Denise Barrett-Baxendale, former Toffees’ star Graham Stuart, and staff from the charity who he has worked with during his time supporting the charity.
Inspector Lewis joined the charity’s board of Trustees in May 2014 in the position of Trustee for Social Inclusion. He has served with Merseyside Police for 25 years, with his last seven seeing him take responsiblity for engaging and supporting young people within the Youth Engagement Unit. His role has given him the opportunity to work with partners across the country and to support many young people to achieve their potential, in often very challenging circumstances.
Inspector Lewis was the Chair of Everton in the Community’s diversionary Kicks programme for six years and in 2011 was recognised nationally for his outstanding police support.
Speaking after receiving the accolade of Community First 11 champion, Inspector Lewis said, “I am very privileged in my role at Merseyside Police to be able to work with some fantastic community partners and I’m extremely proud to be able to help Everton in the Community.
“I’ve worked with the charity on projects such as Kicks and Safer Schools and more recently, I’ve been working with Everton Free School – the common theme is always the young people of Merseyside. It has always been the case that the level of priority that this club gives to young people in need, matches that of Merseyside Police and so it is a marriage made in heaven.
“It is a privilege to be able to support any young people from Merseyside. Some people don’t always have a smooth route and sometimes they just need a bit of guidance and support in opening the right doors and knowing that someone is there for them. For me to be recognised personally for being on hand with this support is incredible, I don’t think I’ve been so surprised in a long, long time!”
When asked why Inspector Lewis was a worthy community champion, Denise Barrett-Baxendale said: “Colin is a phenomenal gentleman who is so committed to our scheme. Nothing is too much for him and he is a truly deserving member to our Community First 11. He has always been there for my staff in the good and bad times, particularly when we have had some difficult issues to deal with in respect of young people.
“Colin has a wide ranging role at Everton in the Community; he is one of our Trustees and he is a Governor at Everton Free School but his significant contribution has been in youth engagement where he works with our Safe Hands and Kicks team as well as chairing one of our panels for many years. He has had an all-round contribution to the charity and we are delighted to be able to secure the skills, knowledge and expertise of someone like Colin to go and develop our programmes. It has been an absolute honour to be able to acknowledge his efforts together with Graham Stuart.”
One of the Everton in the Community staff members who surprised Colin during the Trustees meeting at Goodison Park was Danny Wilson, a young man who thanks to the support and help of the charity and Inspector Lewis has worked to turn his life around:
“Before my life with Everton in the Community, I had two potential paths to go down – the wrong one and another route which I chose which has led me to a full-time job. Colin has helped me massively; he has always stood by me and steered me in the right direction, he’s turned my life around. I’m so thankful to him and very appreciative that he’s played such a part in a life. He is by far a deserving recipient for everything he puts into the community and everyone he helps.”
To view the video of Inspector Lewis' surprise click here.