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.
The first award of the evening was the INSPIRE A GENERATION Award, sponsored by Wilson Browne Solicitors, for people who inspire others through their achievements and have made a significant impact on those around them.
The finalists were Ashtun Anderson, Charlotte Howlett, Dr Margy Whalley, with Ashtun Anderson declared the overall winner.
Ashtun is an inspiration to his fellow pupils, he is blind in one eye, but ever lets this affect his involvement or enthusiasm.
His contributions to school life are many and varied and include running clubs, lunchtime play leader and voluntary work.
He was selected to have a golf membership and was chosen to go to the British golf masters in a putting competition with the pros and was filmed by Sky sports.
VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR sponsored by Voluntary Impact Northamptonshire
For an individual who gives freely and unselfishly of his or her time to help others
Finalists: Dennis Clayton, Dan White, Paul Kennedy
Winner: Dennis Clayton
Dennis is described as an extraordinary, multi-talented volunteer.
Dennis has said that he wants to treat every day as if he’s going to work, even after his retirement.
Not only that but he works at weekends as well in one of his roles as a volunteer mini bus driver.
Dennis epitomises how much our local communities have to be thankful for. A selfless man, with a big heart.
COMMUNITY AWARD sponsored by Costa Coffee
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.
Finalists: Victor Smith, Maplefields Circle of Friends, Zoe Johnson
Winner: Victor Smith
Victor is involved in transforming Eastfield Park for more than 10 years.
He has led a team of volunteers who have turned the park into a place where everyone feels welcome and safe.
None of this would be achieved without Vic’s hard work and the many hours he puts in on a weekly basis.
CARER OF THE YEAR AWARD sponsored by B & M Care Home, Northampton
For individuals who have shown incredible patience and understanding, often for many years, caring for and supporting a friend or loved one.
Finalists: Elaine Nicholson, Yvonne Orland
Winner: Elaine Nicolson
Elaine works so hard doing amazing things for so many people, often unnoticed and overlooked.
Elaine is an autism mum and spouse and has been on her own difficult journey.
She has set up the charity Action for Asperger’s, as she doesn’t want people to suffer, as she has without specialist help.
Elaine guides and cares for those affected and finds solutions to make life easier for those concerned.
She makes herself available seven days a week working 100+hours, her caring is never ending.
YOUNG ACHIEVERS AWARD sponsored by Jeyes of Earls Barton
For 21-year-olds or under, who have either achieved great things in sport, represented their school, are involved in volunteer work or overcome hardship or achieved distinction in some other field.
Finalists: Lily Hobbs, Jessica Wilson, Emily Shellard
Winner: Jessica Wilson
Jessica was knocked down by a car last summer, which could have ended her life.
There was a high chance that she wouldn’t be able to walk or talk again.
Amazingly, she started school in September and was a true inspiration and has made amazing progress.
She is bubbly, outgoing and friendly and everyone is really proud of her.
SERVICE WITH A SMILE Sponsored by Waitrose, Rushden
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.
Finalists: Declan Oliver, Madeline McAlpine, James Tildesley
Winner: James Tildesley
James works on the checkout at the Tesco superstore in Kettering.
He is a pleasant young man who is always helpful and chatty. He also has Aspergers syndrome and struggles with the typical triad of impairment associated with autism, namely social skills, communication and the reading of social situations (eg facial expressions and body language) which us neurotypical people take for granted every minute of our lives.
James always comes over as a happy young man and always gives an excellent service with a smile.
He is so popular with the customers in Tesco that his checkout is always the busiest as many customers would rather wait to be served by him.
He is a credit to the store and always puts the customer first.
AWARD FOR HARD WORK AND DETERMINATION sponsored by B & M Care Home, Kettering
For those who set an example to all of us and show just what can be achieved by hard work and determination.
Finalists: Natalie Carmen, Sophia Madden, Katrina Baker
Winner: Natalie Carmen
Natalie is 13 years old and has ADHD and has recently been promoted to the position of young helper at The Green Patch after-school club, after a difficult start.
Through hard work and determination she has really turned her life around.
FUNDRAISER OF THE YEAR AWARD sponsored by Wellingborough School
For the person or team which has shown innovation and creativity for their fundraising activities.
Finalists: Diana Green, Katrina Baker, Jimmy’s Trust
Winner: Diana Green
Diana has raised more than £60,000 for breast cancer charities.
For most 82-year-olds abseiling 400ft down Northampton lift tower would be unthinkable but not for Diana!
It was just the latest in a long line of charitable challenges which has included completing 12 London Marathons since she was 69.
COURAGE & KINDNESS AWARD sponsored by Towergate Insurance
For a person or group who has overcome adversity or hardship, or has helped others.
Finalists: Janet Walker Smith, Alfe Game, Grandma Joan
Winner: Grandma Joan
Grandma Joan knits cardigans and hats for the Salvation Army.
They are distributed to unfortunate babies three to six months old around the world who have nothing and can even found wrapped in newspaper.
UNSUNG HERO AWARD sponsored by Redrow Homes
To recognise the achievements of individuals or groups that go out of their way for others and may not have received the recognition they deserve.
Finalists: Karaoke Karen, Keith Holland, Andrew Mulhall
Winner: Karaoke Karen
Karen Copper, who is sadly no longer with us, used to entertain the people of Wellingborough by performing karaoke, hence the name karaoke Karen.
Hundreds of people lined the streets for her funeral in June. When Karen was a child she suffered a brain injury, which could have affected her life in a bigger way than she ever let it.
All she ever wanted to do was make people smile and she did this daily by standing in Wellingborough town centre with her boom box, singing and dancing.
Her Just Giving page raised more than £1,000 in just two weeks and continues to raise even more.
APPRENTICE OF THE YEAR AWARD sponsored by Western Power
Finalists: Leah Thompson, Tom Frost, James Mackay
Winner: James Mackay
James began volunteering with Youth Works CIC at the age of 15, as a young leader for holiday clubs.
As well as his energy and enthusiasm for working with children, James showed a real commitment volunteering repeatedly over the next three years during the school holidays.
In August 2015 James was employed as an apprentice finance assistant.
He has continued to show the same high levels of commitment and gives 100 per cent to everything that is asked of him.
Customers often comment on James’ professionalism and on how his passion for the organisation shines through when he talks.
KETTERING PARK HOTEL CHOICE AWARD
This award was judged from the winners of all the other categories.
Winner: Dennis Clayton, based on the fact that time is more precious than money and physical contribution is key.
His contribution is that he clearly devotes his time to help others as well as actually spending time with others on a regular basis.
The depth of interest in his volunteering is remarkable and he seems to get stuck in at all times. To do this at his age is also amazing.