Sotonian wins national award for services to the city

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07 July 2023

GO! Southampton has cause for celebration, after one of its long-standing Rangers has scooped a prestigious national award.

Debbi Martin from Woolston was awarded ‘Best Ambassador, Ranger or Warden’ at the Town and City Management Industry Awards 2023 after displaying ‘incredible passion for the city’ both throughout the pandemic, and during the current cost-of-living crisis.

The glittering awards ceremony was held in Leicester and hosted by Ojay McDonald, Chief Executive Officer of ATCM with the theme of the event centered around the reactivation/rediscovery of town and city centres.

Serving the city’s Business Improvement District for the last five years, Debbi was praised for going above and beyond in her efforts to make Southampton an even better place to live and work.

A recent example of this was her involvement in GO! Southampton’s successful Purple Flag recognition and its efficient response to the city’s graffiti management.

Stephen Manion, Chief Executive of GO! Southampton, said: “Highlights from our Purple Flag submission included the high standard of street cleaning across the city as well as the absence of graffiti and litter – and we all knew that this was largely down to the work of Debbi.”

Debbi – who walks up to 11 miles around the city every shift – reports, on average, more than 20 incidents and issues every day, with the goal of ensuring that Southampton is a beautiful place to live, work and play in.

Stephen continued: “We have a fantastic partnership with Southampton City Council for additional cleaning staff, and Debbi does an incredible job of maintaining a relationship with the team.

“It is because of this that graffiti in the city is removed in less than 24 hours. On a recent occasion, Debbi reported graffiti that was covering most of East Street, on one afternoon, and it was all cleared by 5am the next morning. Debbi also revisited businesses along the route at 9am, to confirm about the graffiti’s removal and check for any additional concerns.”

He added: “Businesses appreciate this rapid response and friendly approach. Debbi is a great ambassador for Southampton, with her warm welcome and helping thousands of visitors to discover the many attractions of the city.”

It isn’t just keeping the city spick and span that led to Debbi’s award win, however.

This year alone, Debbi has been approached by the city’s businesses and visitors with unique issues. She has helped with rats chewing through wires, homelessness, dangerous pavement slabs, anti-social behaviour, medical issues, damage on heritage buildings, fallen street banners, broken city security gates, as well as guiding thousands of cruise passengers through the city.

In addition to her patrolling, Debbi helps the team with:

  • Environmental reporting including graffiti, fly tipping, loose paving slabs and other unwanted waste
  • Attending events such as University Open Days, Job Fairs and other city centre events
  • Human signposting for large city events and tourist information
  • Engaging with BID member businesses and explaining services to them
  • Delivery of materials, newsletters and other collateral to businesses
  • B2B and B2C event support
  • Database updates to improve BID communication
  • Support in developing a public realm and maintenance programme

And, despite being so busy, Debbi is also currently enrolled on a City Ambassador course to give her a more rounded view of the city. In the future, she hopes to encourage other rangers – and BID members – to take part in the course and continue to work towards a better city.

Debbi – said: “I was genuinely shocked at my award win – it was a dream come true but completely unexpected.

“Southampton has always been my home and I love the city’s diversity and the amount it has to offer. I feel extremely lucky to live here and am pleased to be able to help it thrive. A huge thank you to the judges for choosing me, and to the GO! Southampton team for putting me forward and supporting my work.”

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