Over 100 community heroes were recognised at the glittering 2013 Harrogate and District Volunteer Oscars.
The sixth annual Volunteer Oscars ceremony saw volunteers recognised for their work across the Harrogate district.
The ceremony is organised each year to give a public thank you to the many people who give countless hours to volunteering and helping others.
Everyone nominated received a certificate, and there were awards in 16 categories. The Lifetime Volunteers of the Year were named as husband and wife Keith and Jean Fenn, for their dedicated work at the PHAB club over many years. Volunteer of the Year was Simon Oldroyd of Talking Spaces and there was a special honour for Ann Morris, the founder of the Harrogate and Area Council for Voluntary Service which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.
The Rev Brian Hunt, Deputy Lieutenant representing the Lord Lieutenant of North Yorkshire, Lord Crathorne presented the Volunteer of the Year award.
He told the audience of 300 at The Old Swan Hotel in Harrogate how the efforts of so many people were ‘very humbling’ and thanked every volunteer for their enormous contribution to the community.
The awards are organised each year by a former Mayor of Harrogate Coun John Fox, together with the Harrogate and Ripon Council for Voluntary Service and Ackrill Media Group, publishers of the Harrogate Advertiser, Knaresborough Post, Ripon Gazette and Nidderdale Herald.
The editor of Ackrill Media Group Jean MacQuarrie and Coun Fox co-hosted the ceremony in front of the audience of family and friends.
The awards were presented by the Mayor of Harrogate, Coun Mike Newby, the President of Harrogate Chamber of Trade and Commerce Sandra Doherty, Insp Andy Chapman of North Yorkshire police and by individual category sponsors who were thanked for their very generous contributions. They included Ben Ogden and Shaun Ruston of Ogdens of Harrogate who each year donate a carriage clock to each category winner inscribed ‘A gift of time for a gift of time.’
Other sponsors who gave donations to the event and presented awards on the evening were: Coun Philip Broadbank of Enid Taylor Ltd, Chris and Tanya Smith of Stephen Smith’s of Otley, Garry Plant of Harrogate Town AFC, Hannah Turney of the Halifax Building Society, Howard Marshall and Ralph Zoing of Marshall Zoing and Gordon Roscoe of The Blue Water Partnership.
A special guest was Miss Harrogate, Olivia Caven, who presented the Unsung Heroes Award for Harrogate to the Six PPR Ladies and later told the audience about how she had overcome profound deafness in her life.
Young Volunteer of the Year: Laura Mackenzie
What the judges said: “Laura is Ripon Grammar School’s Young Ambassador for Sport and also went on to become a Gold Ambassador for the Harrogate district. “She helps coach junior squads at her school in various sports, including swimming, and is a role model for the pupils, Laura helps Ripon Lions with the Santa’s Sleigh trudging through the streets collecting money.
“She helps at Acorns, a playgroup for children with special needs, is a volunteer for Marie Curie, and organises bagpacks to fund raise for her netball club.
“In total Laura has notched up an incredible 306 volunteer hours in 12 months. She is a modest and unassuming young lady who puts others’ needs before her own and is always prepared to go the extra mile.”
Highly Commended: Edward Swales, Emma Thackray, Katherine Simpson, Marcus Lynn and Jessica Quigley
Care Volunteer of the Year: John Shannon
What the judges said: “John became a volunteer with Carers Time Off in 2011 , an organisation which helped him during his late wife’s illness.
“Over the last two years he has supported six carers and currently sits with a gentleman with dementia 10 years his junior.
“At 96, he is the oldest volunteer for the charity and is also a volunteer with Supporting Older People and a telephone befriender for Age UK.
“Throughout his life John has undertaken volunteering roles, with the prison service, girl guides, the Football Association, the Red Cross, his local church and the Rotary movement.
“His nominators say he is truly dedicated to helping others, a great story teller, self deprecating, kind, thoughtful and charming. He is also one of the few older people who has and uses an iPad!
“John says as long as he can get around, he will carry on.”
Highly Commended: Christine Falconer
Community Volunteers of the Year: Frances Fraser and Clare Thorpe
What the judges said: “These winners are two mums who saw the need for a bike park in Ripon for children to play safely.
“They have worked tirelessly to harness interest and fund raise, and with a target of £150,000, already have raised £50,000.
“They are inspirational ladies who want to create a space for children to be together in a safe and fun environment without causing problems.
“They have handled complicated grant applications, and set backs with their usual enthusiasm and determination, and ensured the young people have kept their focus to achieve their dream. Neither Frances or Clare had previous experience of volunteering, and are doing all this among busy lives. Their example is inspirational.”
Highly Commended: Allan Taylor, Andy Richards, Angela Houseman, Eric Clark and Starbeck in Bloom
Environmental Volunteer of the Year: Starbeck in Bloom
What the judges said: “Founded 15 years ago, Starbeck in Bloom is an organisation which has worked tirelessly to make their community a better place where residents have real pride in living there.
“From success in Yorkshire in Bloom, the organisation went to new heights in the Britain in Bloom category, this year achieving Silver Gilt in the Urban Category.
“Best of all, they were nominated in the concessionary awards for Best community resulting in Gold - the best in the country!
“Led by the indefatigable Christine Stewart, Volunteers turn out in all weathers, including snow and tropical heat to make their community so fantastic.”
Highly Commended: Jennifer Hall
Sports Volunteer of the Year: Alistair Locke
What the judges said: “After a lifetime in business, Alistair has dedicated the last year to helping people with disabilities learn sport and participate in two successful triathalons.
“His dedication to coaching young students at Henshaws Society for the Blind, has been phenomenal and they have hugely enjoyed their experiences, learning so much from their training, and their ultimate success in completing the tough competitions.
“Alistair has given them real focus, inspired them and enriched their lives. He too has found the experience so different, and so rewarding as he has had no experience in working with blind people before.”
Highly Commended: Barry Saunders, David Witham and Katie Tiller
Unsung Hero - Harrogate: The Six PPR Ladies
What the judges said: “The winners are six absolutely amazing ladies who have raised a phenomenal £400,000 to fund Brain Tumour Research at Leeds.
“The Six PPR Ladies are all volunteers who have been touched by this illness. They absorb every cost personally so every penny goes into research, and work tirelessly, all hours to raise money - no job is too big or too small.
“They are six brave, determined and selfless ladies who have each been through personal suffering with heart breaking stories. They are indeed the Unsung Heroes of Harrogate.”
Highly Commended: Agnes Farrar
Unsung Hero - Knaresborough: Penny Carpenter
What the judges said: “Our winner has worked tirelessly for Knaresborough in Bloom and the Friends of Bebra Gardens for 10 years, recently creating a much admired Mediterranean garden. “A modest person, she never blows her own trumpet and always thinks of others first. She is hard working, reliable, good humoured and patient.”
Unsung hero - Ripon and Boroughbridge: Nicola David
What the judges said: “Nicola identified a need in Ripon that some children were going to school without having had breakfast - a very important meal for children.
“She set up volunteers and fund raised, and established a club at Holy Trinity church. “She does all the shopping and set up, from 7am three days a week, and the club is regularly attended by nearly 70 children with parents who enjoy quality time together.
“The school has seen learning benefits. too. Nicola’s nominator says it is amazing what one person has achieved in so short a time.”
Highly Commended: Frances and Claire Thorpe, Josie Pearson, Richard Taylor and Sylvia Kitching
Unsung Hero - Nidderdale: Angela Houseman
What the judges said: “The Unsung Hero for Nidderdale is a lady involved in volunteering and leading so many community projects, organising summer events, New year’s eve celebrations, a fortnightly lunch club for the elderly and a new Dales Dinner for carers of people with memory problems.
“Angela was a prime mover of the new Christ Church community centre where she is now a Trustee, she is chairman of a community group in Darley, helps with Darley brownies, the Fewston fund raising teas, and Darley Memorial Hall.
“Angela is true unsung hero, and a tremendous asset to the community around Darley, Dacre and Nidderdale.”
Highly Commended: Biddy Noakes, Margaret Kendrew
New Volunteer of the Year: Andrew Bowers
What the judges said: “Andrew started as an admin support worker at Just B, the bereavement centre, and was quickly talent spotted to start supporting the new volunteer visitor scheme, helping day therapy patients have support at home.
“One of the staff wrote about Andrew: “He is without doubt the best volunteer I have ever had the chance to work with. His help really does make a difference and has such a positive vibe. Everyone who has had the pleasure of working with him sings his praises and yet the nicest thing is, he has no idea just how helpful he is.”
Highly Commended: Colette Lain, John Cowling
Trustee of the Year: Peter Thompson
What the judges said: “Peter has been chair of Harrogate Mind for 10 years, using his superb organisational skills to support the service, seeing through a change of premises, funding cuts, and a year long accreditation process.
“He was also chair of the Motor Neurone Disease Association for 15 years (and was also chair of Harrogate Choral, Society, one of the great loves of his life.
“Peter is passionate about supporting people through difficult times in their lives and is the most hard working, committed chairman Harrogate Mind has ever had. He will be sorely missed when he retires next April.”
Highly Commended: Patricia Ross
Organisation of the Year: Talking Spaces
What the judges said: “The winner is a small but very effective organisation which promotes mental health and well being through a variety of services.
“The service could not be run without an amazing team of volunteers, well thought of by many professional health service providers.
“The volunteers help deliver short and long-term counselling to anyone over 18, even if they can;t afford to pay, giving up their spare time to visit, listen and support. Comments from service users include: “Having a volunteer gives me the confidence to get out of the house.”
“They help run services from Mums in Need, to anger management, and there’s also a range of volunteers who help with the equally important admin, fund raising and leaflet folding.
“Many of the volunteers are dealing with difficult times themselves; for them to give time and energy to help others is humbling.”
Highly Commended: Harrogate International Festival, Saint Michael’s Hospice
The Corporate Engagement Award: CNG
What the judges said: “CNG is a real winner on every front. From its support of environmental projects, such as the Woodland Trust which it has just signed up to as a corporate partner, to its passion for helping local sport - it is a long term sponsor of Harrogate Town and Harrogate Junior Youth Rugby Festival.
“The company is also a solid supporter of Saint Michael’s Hospice - this year its team is taking part in the You’re Inspired challenge - and staff have been running, walking, sky diving and even taking part in a steak eating competition.
“The CNG team also support the Sadie Rose appeal, and take part in the Great Knaresborough Bed Race to raise funds. Hearing Dogs for the Deaf and a whole range of other charities are supported by this company which develops and sustains long term relationships with its charity partners.”
Volunteer of the Year: Simon Oldroyd
What the judges said: “Simon volunteers for so many roles with the charity Talking Spaces.
“He uses his professional skills as a trained counsellor to see three people a week and also co ordinates peer support meetings.
“He is also a member of the Support at Home scheme, providing one to one support to a man with a long term mental health illness. He takes him out to coffee and together they ‘put the world back on its axis’ in the words of the service user.
“Simon also facilitates anger management group courses which are very successful and is a member of the Steering Group. The service is extremely grateful to have such a caring and knowledgeable volunteer.”
Highly Commended: Geraldine Faith
Lifetime Volunteer Award: Jean and Keith Fenn
What the judges said: “The winners of our Lifetime Volunteer are a very special husband and wife team. Keith has spent a lifetime volunteering to support people with disabilities having just retired after decades of driving the Little Red Bus.
“He served as chairman of the St George’s Youth and Community Centre and PHAB Club and Wheelers and Walakers. In the 70s he raised the funds to buy the Community Centre on Mornington Terrace and has spent every “Friday for the last 20 years with Jean cooking a hot two-course lunch for elderly and vulnerable people, calling the bingo and being dear friends to all.
“Each year Keith and Jean have taken the PHAB members on holiday to Blackpool. Now they have had to hang up their bingo cards and take life a little easier.
“They were chosen to receive this award or their unfailing dedication over so many years.”
This year the Harrogate and Area Council for Voluntary Service celebrates its 25th anniversary.
It all began when Ann Morris, a young mum of three who was training to be a Red Cross nurse saw a need for people to be given a proper volunteering role. The next step was a 10-week Workers Educational Association course where representatives from voluntary organisations came along to explain how they could use the skills and enthusiasm of volunteers.
Ann then read about a government funded Volunteer Centre in Berkhamstead...and the rest is history!
Ann set up the first Volunteer Centre at the back of 17 James Street and staffed by Ann and a team of 15 volunteers for 21.5 hours a week.
The Centre was ahead of its time in encouraging children to volunteer in school holidays. Ann steered the CVS through many changes over the next 25 years, and she was rightly awarded in MBE in 1992 in recognition of her work. She was also given the Women in Community Award by the Soroptimist International Group in Harrogate in 1995. She stepped down in 1998 for an active and well deserved retirement.