2019 Berkhamsted Rotary Civic Award Citations

delivered by Rotary President Rollo Prendergast


"This year the nomination for the Senior Award is Penny Perry. 

Penny does outstanding work for the benefit of many young people in Berkhamsted, in her role as Coordinator of the Swan Youth Project where she has been working since 2014.  She is the Manager, responsible for the staffing and smooth running of the centre and reports to the Trustees of the Swan Charity.  Many people know where the Swan premises are, but may not be aware of what is being achieved there. It is Penny’s skill, enthusiasm and drive that help young people there, to make real progress in their own development.

She is trained in Empowering Learning - which is about supporting people with learning difficulties. She also has a Masters degree in Linguistic Programming; and is currently studying for a Psychology degree. 

In addition, Penny is a mother of 3 children who have all benefitted from the centre. 


The aims of the Swan Youth Project are: 

  • to provide excellent youth services in the heart of Berkhamsted.

  • to provide a safe and fun-space that every young person can enjoy.

  • to offer a range of activities, support, and opportunities that can help young people to broaden their horizons “

The Centre is run for all in the age group of 12 to 18 years and is open every week-day in term time. 


The Swan provides:

  • Support and Mentoring – the centre is free of drugs, smoking and alcohol and Penny makes sure that the young are helped to understand the dangers of drugs and over-use of alcohol; time is found to discuss the importance of relationships; of sexual health and the value of citizenship .

  • Creative Learning - is encouraged in the Arts, Music, and Drama and here the young people benefit from Penny’s experience of running Berkhamsted Youth Theatre. There is a recording studio with drum-kit, electric guitars, and keyboards. 

  • there is a wide range of indoor leisure activities – video making is popular; and out of doors skateboarding and skateboard training feature prominently. The young people get involved in Fundraising, and events such as the Annual Duck Race on the canal, which raised £3,000 last year. 

 There are also some preventative objectives too; reducing Unemployment; improving the take up of Education ; reducing substance abuse and cutting crime and anti-social behaviour.


Most importantly however, what we are recognising today is the way in which Penny runs the Centre with seamless precision. The young people are given a sense of ownership and responsibility for the place and its activities. 

She has a wonderful empathy with them and a feeling for what each young person requires of the Swan. She has the ability to help them to flower and develop the positive aspects of their abilities and personalities, without overpowering them.


Penny has created “a safe place to be “for those going through the difficulties of moving from childhood to teenage life. She shows them the respect of knowing that they are our community of tomorrow. Her training in life-coaching, enables her to help those who are coping with difficulties in their lives, or for whatever reason, have lost their way . 


Penny , your invaluable way of working and helping these young people in this town is – admirable .

 We are delighted to be able to make this award to you."



"Natasha was until recently a pupil of Ashlyns School and has been going to the Swan Youth Project for 3 years now.


During that time, she has developed her skills and knowledge and her willingness to help others. She is now the most active and supportive young volunteer member. 

She has developed her communicating skills, standing up and speaking for The Swan at community events. She spoke at this Annual Town meeting last year.


She participates in many of the Swan activities : a YouTube of the club’s “world of Work“ project was a notable achievement; she is an active member of the music group as a pianist and singer and has performed at the annual Berkofest event; she is the Group’s “go to “ photographer, recording the main activities of the club. Whenever a project is proposed, Natasha can be relied on to jump up with a ready offer of help, and to go the extra mile.  This readiness to help has become more evident a she has developed and matured – so that she now commands the respect of her peers - and undertakes peer mentoring.  


Natasha is interested in developing further in community volunteering - and plans to apply through Community Action Dacorum for the European Volunteering Programme .


Natasha, we are pleased to recognise all that you have achieved at The Swan Youth Project – and we hope that this Award will encourage you to go on to further success in your chosen vocation"