Community Involvement

Sponsored by Suffolk Agricultural Association

Catherine McReynolds and Jonathan Foreman of Observatory Wardale Williams Opticians receive the Community Involvement award from Robert Rous of the Suffolk Agricultural Association. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The Community Involvement award is aimed at commercial businesses able to demonstrate how they combine business success with involvement in their community, in ways which go beyond their core business strategy.

Entrants were expected to demonstrate consistently good citizenship and show commitment outside normal business practice to people, places and events that are not directly aimed at improving their own business profile.

In particular, the judges were looking for:

Initiative – examples of local projects that the business has been instrumental in initiating or in which it has had a leading role from the outset;

Company Involvement – evidence of the support of the company management in supporting community or charity projects and whether staff are actively encouraged to become involved. Are there staff incentives to support community projects and charities?;

Impact – details of how projects in which business has been actively involved have directly benefited the local community;

Education – support local education, whether at primary, secondary, further or higher level.


Observatory Wardale Williams Opticians

Observatory Wardale Williams Opticians  has seven practices across East Anglia  and one in north London.

Each practice has developed a strong  bond with its community, working hard supporting schools, local and international voluntary organisations and charities.

Each branch team seek new ways to engage with the local community at individual and company levels. They also support optical projects in developing countries.

The judges said: “Community involvement is embedded into the culture of this business, led by the interesting, thoughtful and passionate Jonathan Foreman.

“It scores particularly highly on education, both through sciences and health aspects, and a there is a strong belief that a small business should be a part of its locality.

“They also support the local football club and take part in fundraising for projects that are dear to the local community.

“There were many examples. On a wider front, it also has a project in Botswana.”


The runners-up

Leading Lives

Leading Lives provides a range of social care supports to vulnerable adults and family cares across Suffolk and into neighbouring counties.

It operates as a not for profit employee-owned co-operative trading as a social enterprise, with a  core purpose to support people to “live the life  they choose”.

Its primary business is supporting adults with learning disabilities and those with complex needs in their own homes or local community.

The judges said: “Leading Lives is an extraordinary employee-owned co-operative providing social care services in Suffolk. Community involvement is what it is all about.

“It was refreshing to hear how the company has thrived since being released from county council control. Profits are split between staff, reinvestment and return to the community. The whole business revolves around making Suffolk a better place for people with medical disadvantages. You could hardly have a more caring business.”



Prettys is a firm of solicitors in Ipswich and Chelmsford, with extensive experience in providing legal services
and advising on law for business, the public sector, social enterprises and individuals.

Its business services include corporate and commercial law, employment law, commercial property,
dispute resolution, shipping and transport, corporate recovery and insolvency.

Prettys Solicitors also works with private individuals, offering services including wills, estates, trusts and tax, family law, court of protection, personal injury and residential property.

The judges said: “Community involvement is part of Prettys’ culture and a core value of the partners; trainee solicitors form the committee with input from senior members of staff; they aim to help local communities and those with which help can make an impact.

“Its art exhibition is a novel way of helping art students, providing a social occasion for clients, and decorating offices in a novel way. They also do unsung work, such as helping with a night shelter and soup kitchen.”