The winners of North Yorkshire County Council’s annual community awards have been announced.
The awards, which recognise and celebrate voluntary work by individuals and organisations countywide, were presented at the North Yorkshire Wider Partnership Conference at The Pavilions, Harrogate last Friday (October 21).
There were 73 nominations for the awards from a variety of community groups, organisations and individuals from across the county.
From these nominations, up to five entrants were shortlisted before three finalists were selected in each of the four categories.
The awards showcase the voluntary work undertaken by people to make their neighbourhoods better places to live in and to help the council to deliver critical services, such as providing social networks that reduce isolation and enable people to live independently for longer.
The judging panel, including representatives from the council, volunteer organisations, young people and past winners, was impressed by the quality of the nominees.
The winners were:
Best community project: Thirsk Yarnbombers – a community knitting project encouraging tourism in Thirsk, initially during the Tour de Yorkshire, and raising money for charities.
The group was approached by the Royal British Legion to create poppies for Remembrance Day.
The group has more than 200 members and continues to grow. All money raised is split between the group’s chosen charities and future community projects in Thirsk.
Runners-up: Chase Garth Park Project and Saxton Village Hall.
Best community group: WHISH – Whitby Hidden Impairments Support and Help – a group supporting families in Whitby and the surrounding rural area, whose children have a hidden impairment and disabilities, through sport, arts, social activities and clubs for children and siblings and advice and support for parents.
The group supports more than 100 children with more than 40 different disabilities, and their parents.
It helps to reduce social isolation, increase resilience and families’ ability to support each other while reducing reliance on emergency health and social care interventions.
Runners-up: The Bobbins Community Craft Centre/Beach Keepers and Helmsley in Business.
Volunteer of the year: Jane Lishman – Jane volunteers for a number of organisations: the Harrogate Easier Living Project (Opening Doors and Driving Force services), British Red Cross (Harrogate Community Connect scheme and Enhanced Home from Hospital in West Yorkshire service), Age UK Knaresborough (Home from Hospital scheme), REACT (Home from Hospital scheme) and at the Harrogate Fair Trade Shop in St Peter’s Church, Harrogate.
From time to time, Jane plays the piano at Oatlands Infant School for special services and also runs a music appreciation group from her home.
Jane said: “I heard someone say that volunteers are life-savers, but to me volunteering is life-saving.”
Runners-up: Ruksana Mahmood and John Potter.
Young people volunteering award: Joseph Banks –Joseph initiated a youth club in his village in Ryedale, consulting young people in the area and working with the village hall committee to get a club up and running.
The monthly club is now attended by up to 20 young people, who have taken part in many activities, including fundraising.
Runners-up: Ripon Museum Young Volunteers and the Young Carers and Young Adult Carers Project.
The winner of each category was awarded £1,000 for the relevant project, group or nominated local charity in the case of the volunteer awards. The two runners-up in each category received £250.
County Councillor Val Arnold, chairman of the county council, said: “These awards demonstrate the valuable contribution so many people make to supporting North Yorkshire’s residents of all ages.
“Organisations and individual volunteers make such a big contribution to the lives of people across North Yorkshire.
“It was a difficult task to select the finalists and even more difficult to choose the winners.
“All the entries show how much hard work people put into helping their communities.
“The awards emphasise what a wealth of skills and caring we have in the county and the many people who are prepared to share those skills to the benefit of those less fortunate.
“Without the tens of thousands of hours the volunteers give, life for so many people would be much poorer.
“To help where we can, our Stronger Communities team supports the enthusiasm, determination and community spirit that enable such things as libraries, community car schemes, youth clubs and helping the lonely and isolated older people in North Yorkshire.”