A PIONEERING Winchester volunteer group has paid tribute to its longest serving members.

Winchester Crown Court Witness service was the first of its kind in the UK when it was established 20 years ago, and at a ceremony yesterday it honoured volunteers who had reached the milestones of 10, 15 or 20 years service.

The programme supports witnesses throughout a trial - many of whom will be in a court room for the first time.

Speaking at the ceremony yesterday (November 12), service delivery manager Carolyn Martin said: “We cannot run this service without the volunteers. They are an amazing bunch of people, they are brilliant.”

Carolyn set up the service and said that the programme had supported witnesses through some extremely high profile trials.

“There were 80 prosecution witnesses and 30 defence witnesses at the Rose West trial. That was an amazing four months for us,” she said.

The Recorder of Winchester, Judge Keith Cutler, was on hand to present the certificates of service to volunteers, with around 100 people there to mark the occasion at the crown court.

Pam Kefford, of Wrights Way, South Wonston, collected a certificate for her 20 years of service. She said: “It's extremely rewarding. It's sad at times too but one thing it's taught me is that there are always two sides to every story.”

The volunteers receiving certificates for 20 years with the service were: Judith Moody, Pam Hull, Pamela Kefford and Jilly Merton. Volunteers with 15 years of service were Judith Shedden, Judy Atchley, Norman Stewart, Joy Scanlon, Mark Godson, Shirley Dodd and Gill Collymore. Those collecting certificates for 10 years with the programme were Thora Lomax, Jill Bellamy, Rochelle King, Charmain Jones and Barbara Sharman.