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Outstanding service to the community

Tom Freeston has climbed the world's highest mountain... 15 times.

From left: Yvonne Stevenson, Tom Freeston, Mayoress Kate Wainwright, Mayor Cllr Colin Brotherton, Stan Meeds, Deputy Mayor Cllr Alan Lee, Deputy Mayoress Jill Lee, and Mary Smith

But he has never set foot on the summit of Mount Everest. Tom has climbed the equivalent height by making his way up and down the bell tower at Boston Stump over the past 66 years.

Tom, now in his eighties, received a community award from Mayor of Boston Cllr Colin Brotherton in the borough council chamber on Thursday night. Cllr Helen Staples, speaking in support of his nomination, said his climbs to the ringing room at the Stump over the 66 years had included 41 years as tower captain of the bell ringing team.

He has retired as captain, but said he intends taking the 200 steps to the ringing room for as long as he is able. He said he was introduced to bell ringing - campanology - by his brother when he was just 14. He said it was a great privilege to ring the bells at the Stump, especially for special occasions such as greeting royalty. He asked that when people admired the sound of the bells they spared a thought for the "invisible" bell ringers.

Next to receive a community award from Boston Borough Council was Stan Meeds, supported by Cllr Gloria Smith, who praised his work as churchwarden for more than 30 years at St Nicholas Church, Skirbeck. He also does voluntary work for the Red Cross, the Poppy Appeal and the Royal British Legion and Royal Naval Association.

Mr Meeds said he could not have done any of it without the constant support of his wife, Audrey.

Cllr Raymond Singleton-McGuire spoke in support of the nomination for Ray and Mary Smith, of Leverton, for their work for St Helena's Parochial Church Council. They had helped raise funds and battled to keep Leverton Church Hall open, including organising a major repair and refurbishment programme after it was damaged in an arson attack in 2010.

Mary accepted the award, but Ray was not able to attend due to illness.

Cllr Peter Bedford told how Yvonne Stevenson worked so hard for her community of Freiston, where she has lived all her life.

She looks after the church and churchyard, helping Freiston win best kept village awards three times in the past five years. She provides hospitality for village visitors and helps with the church Christmas tree festival and the Christmas party at the community centre.

Miss Stevenson said she "just got on with it" and thanked her team of helpers.

The annual awards have been made since 1980 and acknowledge outstanding service to the community.