Inspirational people from across Northamptonshire celebrated at 2017 Pride awards

Pride in Northamptonshire 2017 Winners.
PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER
Pride in Northamptonshire 2017 Winners. PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

Unsung heroes from across the county have been honoured at our annual Pride in Northamptonshire Awards.

The awards, run jointly by the Northampton Chronicle and Echo, Northants Telegraph and Daventry Express, took place last night at the Kettering Park Hotel and were hosted by Jon Moses, finalist from the ITV show Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Superstar.

Volunteer of the Year Ron Humpage sponsored by B & M Care.
PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

Volunteer of the Year Ron Humpage sponsored by B & M Care. PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

INSPIRE A GENERATION AWARD sponsored by Wilson Browne Solicitors

This category is for people who inspire us through their achievements and have made a significant impact to those around them.

This person is a positive role model for generations to follow and their generosity of spirit leads others to achieve greatness in their own right.

The finalists are:

Unsung Hero Winner Paul Balmer sponsored by Walls  & Floors.
PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

Unsung Hero Winner Paul Balmer sponsored by Walls & Floors. PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

Bernadette Crisp

Although wheelchair-bound, 18-year-old Bernadette has overcome tremendous problems, but is always trying to encourage and support others, especially those who are disabled. Her progressive condition has stopped her playing wheelchair basketball which she loved and at which she excelled. In the past year she has deteriorated and is now unable even to hold a pencil. Not able to continue her favourite pastime of drawing, she now draws fantastic pictures on

her touchscreen computer using only one finger, a process which can take several hours. Her work of more than 100 pictures is original, unusual and distinctive and an inspiration to all who see it. It can also be printed onto canvas.

Although in constant pain, if people meet her, she is cheerful and has a beautiful smile. Sadly she now has also lost all speech, but is able to communicate through her computer and Makaton sign language. Anyone who meets her, including those in the medical profession, are astonished by her positive attitude.

Service with a Smile Winner Sara Gurr sponsored by Waitrose.
PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

Service with a Smile Winner Sara Gurr sponsored by Waitrose. PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

Gill Bailey

Gill has now been in the guiding movement for over 20 years where she runs a Rainbow, Brownie and Guide unit in the village of Little Houghton she has also recently took on the role of district commissioner - all of this is done in her own time. Without Gill the units in Little Houghton would have shut down years ago leaving nothing to inspire the girls.

Terri Meechan

Terri is a founder member of Corby Carnival Association who were set up 15 years ago to organise Corby Carnival after budget restrictions prevented the local council from organising it. Terri works tirelessly all year round to ensure that Corby Carnival is the best it can be and that as many community groups in Corby as possible are involved. After the competition, Terri ensures that the contestants who did not win still have plenty of duties to perform in and around Corby as Princesses, supporting the many charities and fundraisers in the town. Terri teaches them how to gain confidence in themselves, how to socialise and gain life and social skills they might not otherwise get to experience. She also ensures that no young lady is excluded from being a part of Carnival because of ability or financial status.

Inspire a Generation winner Bernadette Crisp sponsored by Wilson Browne.
PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

Inspire a Generation winner Bernadette Crisp sponsored by Wilson Browne. PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

Winner – Bernadette Crisp

VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR sponsored by B & M Care Homes Northampton

This award is given to an individual who gives freely and unselfishly of his or her time to help others. Volunteers are an integral part of Northamptonshire and this award recognises and celebrates their achievements and the valuable contribution they make to our area. This award is for a volunteer who goes above and beyond

The finalists are:

Lee and Lorraine Lewis

In April 2017, Lee & Lorraine set up a charity called The Lewis Foundation. Lee’s mum, Janice spent a number of years in and out of Talbot Butler Ward in Northampton General Hospital receiving treatment for cancer. This was between 2010 - 2014. Before they set up their charity Lorraine did 2 runs Tough Mudder and Rat Race Dirty Weekend (20 miles, 200 obstacles). Her mum was shocked she signed up for these, Lorraine hated mud, obstacles and her mum remembers signing many notes to get out of PE! Since May 2016 they go to Northampton General Hospital every Friday Night and hand out free gift bags to cancer patients on Talbot Butler Ward. They go there with a few volunteers. Last year they also delivered 17 Christmas Hampers to people with Cancer in Northamptonshire who had been nominated by a family or friend.

Hardwork & Determination Winner Nicola Pell sponsored by B & M Care.
PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

Hardwork & Determination Winner Nicola Pell sponsored by B & M Care. PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

Gill Bailey

Gill, who runs a Rainbow, Brownie and Guide unit in the village of Little Houghton.

Ron Humpage

Ron has spent almost 20 years Volunteering for Daventry Area Community Transport. He is a very popular man within the group who is liked by both the staff and clients. He has spent many years collecting people with Parkinson’s and taking them to the day centre in Northampton, this service greatly improved the quality of life for the clients and they always look forward to Ron driving them to these events.

Nigel Davison

Nigel is a volunteer at Nene Valley Community Action. He is a one of the volunteer befrienders who goes above and beyond to help the people who he befriends. One of the people he befriends, said that Nigel is kind and caring and has great empathy with his befriendees and regularly goes above and beyond to help them when they are in extra need. He is reliable and diligent in his volunteering responsibilities.

Winner – Ron Humpage

Community Award sponsored by Costa

This award is for a Northamptonshire person, group or charity, who has made a contribution to their local community or simply be the ‘go-to’ person who is always there when people need a helping hand.

The finalists are:

Nicola Pell

She took on the work of Corby Nightlight, providing a winter night shelter for rough sleepers and other homeless adults from Corby and surrounding areas and led them to win the Jewsons award and strive to get them a building to work from. I know that behind the scenes she has been working tirelessly - she is an amazing determined lady.

Active Support Service Ltd

Active Support are now in their 11 year of supporting people of all ages and abilities in the community. They care so much about all their customers and ensure that they all receive meals and medication on time. They support for a minimum of one hour and all staff work beyond their duty. They have the personal touch and care about everyone they support.

Terri Meechan

Terri is a one-of-a kind person who loves nothing more than to make people in her community happy and see a smile on the faces of whoever she is helping - particularly the young. Terri volunteers in excess of 90 hours a week in several different roles just simply because she wants to help where she can in the Community. Terri is also a Parish councillor in the Village of Gretton where she lives and has been for the past 20 years.

Rob Kinning

Rob is the chief executive of Daventry Area Community Transport. He is the ‘driving’ force behind DACT and its concept. The DACT team and it’s fantastic volunteers were nominated for the Queen’s Award for voluntary service this year.

Winner – Terri Meechan

CARER of the Year AWARD sponsored by Whittlebury Hall Hotel & Spa.

This award recognises individuals who have shown incredible patience and understanding, often for many years, caring for and supporting a friend or loved one. The finalists in this award have cared for others without thought for themselves or any public recognition, but tonight we are going to put that right.

The finalists are:

Donna O’Brien

In the past year Donna’s mum has been diagnosed with vascular dementia. She helps her every day and Donna’s daughter said that she is the most amazing person. Not only does she have to care for her mum but she fosters 3 other children to help give them a better life. She has spent a lot of time fostering and also has 2 of her own children and 3 step children. Adding to all this, her husband has been really ill over the past year with a liver transplant and having to balance all of these is difficult. Donna barely takes time for herself.

Jacqui Crosbie

Jacqui has worked for Active Support Services for 10 years, she has worked in all areas of the service so has an excellent overview - working as a support worker and senior for several years, caring so much about everyone she supports. When someone calls in sick, if able, she is the first one to reply to the on call service. She supports her staff team with confidence, appreciation and time. She is a very loyal member of the team and is so appreciated within the management team. On a personal level, she lost 9 stone on slimming world!

Kath Meredith

Kath has done a lot for the community by opening a day centre for the elderly and vulnerable in this area - Candocare. Based in Higham Ferrers, Cando Care is run by qualified experienced carers. Kath is assisted by a team of volunteers to organise fundraising activities, arrange several activities and create a friendly and welcoming atmosphere for the elderly and vulnerable people.

Winner – Donna O’Brien

SERVICE WITH A SMILE Sponsored by Waitrose, Rushden

This award will be for an individual or a team that goes that extra mile when it comes to customer service setting a superb example. Those people who make our community a friendlier place to be and deserve to be recognised for going that step further.

The finalists are:

Jane Patterson

Jane works for Active Support and greets everyone with a smile and kind words, whether on the phone, or face to face. She has sympathy and empathy for people of all ages and abilities that Active support every day. She does her best to solve people’s queries and has an excellent rapour with the staff team. In her personal life she does so much for her community, from the PTA to the food bank.

Sara Gurr

Sara is one of the nicest, most positive, friendly people you could hope to meet. She started her own business - Sweet Sensations by Sara. She is a cake maker and has now extended her empire with a vintage mobile tea room known locally as Connie The Vintage Travelling Tea Room. Sara fully immerses herself in her business and brings that extra special sense of value to everyone who visits her. No request is ever too big or too small. She goes above and beyond. She has also shown great generosity in her continued sponsorships and cake donations to fundraising events, including the Northampton Christmas Charity Fun Days which to date have raised over £10,000 for charities both local and nationwide. Her service truly does come with a smile and the reason her business continues to flourish says a lot about the person behind it. She is 1 in a million.

Winner – Sara Gurr

HARD WORK AND DETERMINATION AWARD sponsored by B & M Care Home, Kettering

The finalists in this award set an example to all of us and show just what can be achieved by hard work and determination. They are are a credit to Northamptonshire.

The finalists are:

Nicola Pell

From the charity Nightlight.

Sara Gurr

Sara is has given invaluable help and support to local small business owners to help them get their businesses off the ground. She has also shown great generosity in her continued sponsorships and cake donations.

Paul Balmer

Paul has been nominated because he has such a positive effect on so many people, young and old. Just some of the things Paul does on a regular basis for his community are; Running a music youth club on Saturday afternoon, he is a member of the Oakley Vale Arts Panel, looking to create a Corby sculpture park. He teaches guitar to youngsters, often free of charge, he is a founder of Corby film week and is a well respected figure in the arts & cultural scene in Corby.

Winner – Nicola Pell

FUNDRAISER OF THE YEAR AWARD sponsored by the Northamptonshire Telegraph

This award is to recognise the person or team that has shown innovation and creativity for their fund raising activities. This award isn’t necessarily about the amount of money raised.

The finalists are:

Theresa Wright

Theresa strives to raise as much money as she can for The Gosset Ward at Northampton Hospital. The group Theresa established in 2011 has raised over £35,000 for the neonatal unit. This is alongside raising her own 5 children.

Paula Solomon

Paula’s husband David was a keen runner, running over 30 marathons and was a member of Northampton Road Runners. In October 2015 got the devastating diagnosis of motor neurone disease. Paula and David decided to be positive and took on various fundraising challenges for the Northampton-based Motor Neurone Disease Association and for their local Cynthia Spencer Hospice.

Dave is now in a wheelchair and has difficulty communicating. Despite facing the ongoing challenges of a progressive disease as his main carer, Paula dedicates her spare time to fundraising. She has completed five marathons, while pushing Dave in his wheelchair and a London to Brighton Walk. Paula has raised approximately £15,000 to help people like Dave affected by MND.

Lee and Lorraine Lewis

Lee & Lorraine love their charity. When they speak about it their faces light up, it makes them happy knowing they have cheered someone else up.

Winners – Lee & Lorraine Lewis

COURAGE & KINDNESS AWARD and is dedicated to last year’s winner, Grandma Joan, who died in February.

This award is for a person or group who has overcome adversity or hardship, or has helped others, whether in the community, or closer to home.

The finalists are:

David & James Monk

David and James are eight-year-old twin brothers who were born on the same day their nanny was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. They have grown up watching this disease slowly take away their Nan’s independence. Their Nan can no longer walk unaided and day to day chores such as washing the dishes are almost impossible. The boys really care for their Nan and do all that they can for her but this wasn’t enough for the boys. So they started fundraising for Parkinson’s UK. They have taken part in local carnivals, the Superhero Fun Run in Milton Keynes dressed as Mario and Luigi. They have both also been involved in helping the Northampton Christmas Charity Fun Days. Their latest fundraising efforts came in March when the boys held their own beat the buzzer game. With a touch of innocence the boys believe that their efforts will help to cure Nanny’s illness.

Paula & David Solomon

Paula and David, who has motor neurone disease have taken on various fundraising challenges for the Northampton-based Motor Neurone Disease Association, the only national charity in England, Wales and Northern Ireland focused on MND care, research and campaigning, and for their local Cynthia Spencer Hospice. Despite facing the ongoing challenges of a progressive disease as his main carer, Paula organises multiple community events based around the Obelisk Centre in Kingsthorpe where the couple live with Paula’s two children, such as bake sales, psychic nights, raffles, car boot sales, fun runs and walking challenges. Combined with her friends’ fundraising, Paula has raised approximately £15,000 to help people like Dave affected by MND. To further demonstrate her commitment to fundraising for the Association, she has even had a grant from the charity to cover respite care for David while she takes part in various challenges for the Association around the UK.

Paula and David were also the faces of the MND Association’s June Awareness Month, appearing on posters across the National Rail network and on the London Underground, as well as on the dedicated website. They embraced their roles as charity ambassadors, undertaking various media interviews and raising awareness about the disease that they know will kill Dave.

Winners – David & James Monk

UNSUNG HERO AWARD sponsored by Walls & Floors

This award recognises the achievements of individuals or groups that go out of their way for others and may not have received the recognition they deserve. A true unsung hero or heroine.

The finalists are:

Theresa Wright & Polly Major

Theresa & Polly have been fundraising for Gosset Ward at Northampton hospital. Gosset Ward is a neonatal intensive care unit which cares for newborn babies who require some form of special high dependency or intensive care nursing.

Most of the babies admitted to Gosset are due to premature births. Theresa & Polly have raised a fantastic amount of money for the unit to date.

Sandra McDermott

Family support link

Sandra started and built up the charity Family Support Link to support the children and families of drug and alcohol dependant people. The charity supports children and their affected families, and the passion and commitment displayed by Sandra and her team deserve more recognition. From starting to take calls from a second landline in her spare bedroom to employing 13 staff offering a wide range of support across Northamptonshire.

Paul Balmer

Paul works tirelessly for his local community on the Oakley Vale Estate in Corby. He asks for nothing in return for his work and has been nominated because he has such a positive effect on so many people, young and old. He truly is an ‘unsung hero’.

Through HD Media - a local community interest company founded in September 2014, he gives young people on the job, practical training to help them realize their dreams of working in the film/TV industry. Fourteen of his trainees have recently achieved AQA qualifications and 3 who have just left school have gone on either to take up media apprenticeships or media courses.

Paul’s door is always open to help and nothing is too much trouble.

Shona Mitchell

In July last year Shona’s friend suddenly died. At 22 (and with an 18-month-old son of her own), Shona has honoured her friends wishes, by taking on her 11 and seven-year-old children. Nothing stops her from putting the children before herself. Shona is the most caring and supportive young lady with a huge heart. Everyone is so proud of her, she copes amazingly and is still always there for others.

Winner – Paul Balmer

Winner of the Kettering Park Hotel choice award – Paul Balmer

Fundraiser of the Year Winner Lee and Lorraine Lewis sponsored by Northamptonshire Telegraph.
PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

Fundraiser of the Year Winner Lee and Lorraine Lewis sponsored by Northamptonshire Telegraph. PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

Courage & Kindness Winner David and James Monk sponsored by the family of Grandma Joan.
PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

Courage & Kindness Winner David and James Monk sponsored by the family of Grandma Joan. PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

Community of the Year winner Terri Meechan sponsored by Costa.
PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

Community of the Year winner Terri Meechan sponsored by Costa. PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

Choice Award Winner Paul Balmer sponsored by Kettering Park Hotel.
PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

Choice Award Winner Paul Balmer sponsored by Kettering Park Hotel. PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

Carer of the Year Winner Donna O'Brien sponsored by Whittlebury Hall.
PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

Carer of the Year Winner Donna O'Brien sponsored by Whittlebury Hall. PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER