Helping Others with Karen Weaver: Time to nominate your favourite volunteer

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In 1929 the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences established an awards ceremony in Hollywood to recognize excellence in cinematic achievements in the United States film industry.

The various category winners are awarded a copy of a statuette, officially called the Academy Award of Merit, which has become commonly known by its nickname “Oscar.”

The first ceremony was held at a private function in a hotel and the results had been announced three months earlier. From this modest start the Oscars have gained worldwide status, partly for their glitz and glamour but also as a byword for the celebration of talent, dedication and achievement in any area of activity.

Fast forward to 2008 and the Mayor of the Harrogate District decided that local volunteering activity should be similarly recognised and celebrated, and the Harrogate District Volunteering Oscars were launched.

Coun John Fox put together a winning formula which gained the support of this newspaper, the Volunteer Centre at HARCVS, and Harrogate Borough Council. The Old Swan Hotel kindly hosts the fantastic presentation evening, and a variety of local businesses generously sponsor the various award categories and attend the ceremony.

I’m delighted to use this column to announce that nominations are now open for the 2016 Harrogate District Volunteering Oscars, and the awards ceremony will take place on Friday October 28, held once again at the Old Swan Hotel in Harrogate. The nomination process is very straightforward and can be completed online at www.harcvs.org.uk.

As with the Hollywood Oscars there are various categories of Volunteering Oscars open for nominations, and candidates can be nominated for more than one award. Here are the 16 categories:

Young Volunteer of the Year - for any volunteer under 25 years of age; Care Volunteer of the Year - for any volunteer who has worked with and contributed towards a care based activity; Community Volunteer of the Year - for any volunteer who has worked with and contributed towards a community based activity;

Environment Volunteer of the Year - for any volunteer who has contributed towards an activity to improve either the attractiveness of the local environment or the preservation of the natural environment; Sports Volunteer - for any volunteer who has worked with and contributed towards a sports based activity; Wildlife Volunteer - for any volunteer or group who has worked with and contributed towards local wildlife; Ackrill Media Group Unsung Heroes - one award will be given to any volunteer who has gone the extra mile in each of the four locations: Harrogate - sponsored by Harrogate Advertiser; Knaresborough - sponsored by Knaresborough Post; Ripon & Boroughbridge - sponsored by Ripon Gazette & Boroughbridge Herald; Nidderdale - sponsored by Nidderdale Herald; New Volunteer of the Year - for any person who has started volunteering within the last 12 months; Trustee of the Year - for the trustee who demonstrates exceptionally sound decision making, and has provided ongoing support which allowed the charity to most effectively achieve its objectives within the last year; Organisation of the Year - for an organisation which has demonstrated best practice in volunteer management; Corporate Engagement Award - for any business or team who have taken part in a volunteering initiative over the past 12 months; Lifetime Volunteer - for the volunteer who has given an extraordinary contribution to the organisation, its service users and fellow volunteers over a significant length of time. Unlike the other awards, this recognises the contribution across a number of years rather than just the last 12 months.

The closing date for nominations is midnight on Monday, October 10, after which the judging panel meets to select winners and highly commended volunteers in each category. All the nominees are invited to attend the awards evening together with friends and families, where we are also joined by the award sponsors and partners.

In last week’s paper alone I counted up 40 different examples which would all make great nominations. Each year September is a nervous month for us as nominations trickle in slowly and then we receive a flood of nominations in October. If you know someone who makes a difference in your life or your community, nominate them now?

For more information on the 2016 Volunteer Oscars and Harrogate & Ripon Centres for Voluntary Service, visit www.harcvs.org.uk or find us on Facebook and Twitter @harcvs.