A boarding school matron from Barnard Castle has won a community champion award for selflessly giving up time with her own family to care for students unable to return home during the Coronavirus lockdowns.


Lindy Themistocelous, Senior Boys’ Boarding Matron at Barnard Castle School, was nominated for the Bayfields Opticians and Audiologists’ We See You Community Champion Awards by one of her colleagues. Lindy was praised for her selfless commitment to her students, having opted to stay at the school and look after boarders who were unable to return home when the UK lockdown was initiated, rather than go to live with her own family.


Remaining at the school until the end of the summer term in late July, Lindy also supported boarders who returned to Barnard Castle in August to quarantine and cared for 13 students unable to return home during Christmas 2020. Throughout the most recent school term, Lindy has also cared for students who’ve unfortunately become ill with COVID-19, ensuring they remained safe and comfortable while in isolation at the school.


Bayfields Opticians & Audiologists, which has over 30 practices across the UK, including one in Barnard Castle, launched the awards at the start of 2021 to celebrate the nation’s local heroes who have gone out of their way to help people in their areas.


The campaign was developed after the business’ research revealed that 78 per cent of Brits believe local heroes add more to society than celebrities. The research, which questioned 2,013 people, also discovered that since the start of the pandemic, two-fifths of people think there is more of a sense of community where they live and over half have seen people be more kind to others. After receiving hundreds of entries, the business’ Benevolence Committee selected five regional winners.


Peter Lavery, Head of Boarding at Barnard Castle School, said: “Lindy embodies every quality a boarding community could ask for in a matron. She maintains a quiet, calm and unflappable presence, balancing that vital role of being the boys’ mother away from home, with calm authority. Her willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty this year has been instrumental in allowing boarding to flourish at Barnard Castle and she has undoubtedly improved the lives of our boarding children throughout this challenging year.”


In response to hearing that she’d been named the North East regional winner, Lindy said: “I feel so honoured and humbled that I was put forward, and I am incredibly grateful to be named a regional winner.


“To all my boys in the boarding house, past and present – it is because of you that I love what I do. You are all amazing and each and every one of you has a special place in my heart.


“I could not do what I do without the encouragement and help of my colleagues, who contribute so much to the wellbeing of our pupils. I am blessed to be part of our wonderful Barnard Castle community, and I thank you so much for believing in me and making me feel part of this wonderful school.”


Royston Bayfield, founder and CEO at Bayfields Opticians and Audiologists, said: “Although the last 20 months have been challenging for people, we know so many individuals, charities and businesses have all worked hard to support their communities. Whether through volunteering, fundraising, going above and beyond their job, bringing people together or any general acts of kindness, we wanted to acknowledge some of these community champions and thank them for making a positive difference in their local areas. I’d like to congratulate Lindy for making such a positive impact to so many people in her local area.”


As well as winning £100, Lindy will now go into the national round of the Bayfields Opticians & Audiologists We See You Community Champion Awards and stands a chance of winning £1,000.