Hilary Haslam, 62, from Bexley Heath, has been crowned the South East’s Neighbour of the Year 2020, as part of Co-op Insurance and Neighbourhood Watch’s search for the UK’s best neighbours.
Hilary helps with the Mayor of Bexley’s Christmas tree lighting which raises money for the Mayor’s charity each year. Throughout lockdown, she has been looking after various neighbours - shopping for them, collecting prescriptions and delivering parcels and letters. Hilary has also been cooking meals daily for one neighbour who is unable to cook for herself.
On VE Day, Hilary made bunting and hung this across the road for a socially-distanced celebration and she would always be the first one out, hitting away on her tambourines for the ‘Clap for Carers.’
Hilary’s neighbour Emma nominated her for the award, saying: “Hilary is an amazing neighbour. She’s a pillar of the community and is always looking out for her neighbours and always the first to volunteer her help. She has been very careful throughout lockdown about staying socially distant, while still offering support to others. Hilary was also key in organising VE celebrations for the street, which was thoroughly enjoyed by all.”
Hilary Haslam, South East’s Neighbour of the Year, said: “My 89-year-old neighbour is vulnerable, and I was concerned during the lockdown – so I started cooking for her. I’m on about 235 meals so far – and counting! I’ve been here for 40 years, and I’ve seen a lot of generations. I always love seeing someone around that I know. People don’t move away from here. Most people know me, and anyone can call on me for help.”
The Neighbour of the Year award celebrates neighbours who look out for others, are sociable and friendly, offer practical help and are kind, caring and respectful. In its third year, the number of entries increased by a staggering 100 percent from 2019.
Ellis German, Home Insurance Executive at Co-op Insurance said: “We’re so proud of Hilary – she’s an excellent reminder that there are those on our doorsteps who need us more than ever. All the judges agreed that she was the worthy winner of the South East Neighbour of the Year 2020 award.”
This year the awards are being back by actress Catherine Tyldesley, who played Eva Price in Coronation Street, who said: “It’s heartening to see that neighbours like Hilary exist and are being recognised for the great work they’re doing to create communities where everyone feels safe and part of something.”
This year’s winners are announced as new data from Co-op Insurance and Neighbourhood Watch warns that the surge in neighbourliness seen in the Spring hasn’t been sustained, as pandemic fatigue sets in across the UK.
During the peak of the first national lockdown in April, data from Co-op showed a spike in neighbourliness, with almost three quarters (74%) of adults in the South East said they knew which of their neighbours was classed as high risk.
“With the Co-op, we really urge everyone to be as supportive of each other as possible and be truly vigilant. It will be a very challenging Christmas for so many of us.”
Ellis added: “Our latest research is cause for concern as we start to see neighbourliness plateau. The length of time of the pandemic, the personal impact on everyday lives and the shorter days and colder weather are all key reasons for why we’re seeing this.
“We’re urging people to band together and keep up neighbourly spirits this winter, especially with neighbours who are vulnerable or alone, whether that’s by having a friendly chat over the garden fence, checking in to see if they need food or medicine dropping off or by keeping in touch online.”