January 2nd, 2024.

Paula Woolven, 51, has become the second generation of her family to be awarded the British Empire Medal (B.E.M) in the New Year’s Honours List, with a special mention of her efforts during the 2019 Covid Pandemic, where she set up the Havens Food Cooperative project in Newhaven to prevent food waste from supermarkets and feed the community free of charge.

A regular charity supporter from the age of 14, Telscombe Cliffs resident Paula was first inspired by the example set by her mother, Marilyn Nolan, herself a community stalwart and lifelong volunteer for many charities including the RNIB, the Barn Theatre, DaSH JFC and the Meridian Mature Citizens Forum.

“I was always helping mum and dad with things like counting the coins from the Sooty collection boxes, helping at cake sales or performing at events so community support has been a way of life for me,” said Paula, “my own three children were brought up the same way.”

Marilyn, 77, was awarded the B.E.M in the New Year’s Honours List of 2016 and was delighted to discover that her daughter has been recognised with the same honour, seven years later.

The B.E.M. is the second national honour Paula has been awarded, following the presentation of the Royal Humane Society Parchment in 2015 for saving the life of a suicidal person on the Newhaven Swing Bridge who had climbed over the railings and was dangling over the cold, fast-flowing river.

Paula founded the Havens Community Hub in 2018 and pushed the fledgling not-for-profit beyond its limits during C19, taking on the Havens Happy Clubs for older people with complex needs, founding Havens Community Cars CIO – a volunteer driver charity with over 600 members unable to use public transport and creating the multi-award winning environmental and cost of living assisting surplus food pantry – the Havens Food Cooperative, which has just celebrated saving over one million pounds worth of food from landfill and rapidly redistributing it to hundreds of Lewes District families and other charities, including all the local foodbanks.

The Food Cooperative is open 365 days a year in Thompson Road, Newhaven.

“I may be the captain, but this ship couldn’t have set sail without all the wonderful volunteers, supporters and staff on board,” Paula said, “we have nearly 100 people directly involved in the front-line services that the Hub provides through our different projects and legacy charities, including our new community and small business support services based at the Telscombe Cliffs Civic Centre. I know it’s cliché but I would genuinely like to thank each and every volunteer and dedicate this award to their tireless work to make every day a little better.”

To find out more about the work of Havens Community Hub visit

To donate to support their work visit

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