Winners of 2016 St Albans Mayor’s Pride Awards are announced
13:19 16 March 2016
Brave 10 year old Gabriella Farrugia, who suffers from an extremely rare illness, has won a coveted community award for her campaigning work.
The St Albans schoolgirl has been named Young Person of Distinction in this year’s Mayor’s Pride Awards. 2016.
She was one of nine individuals or groups who were presented with an award by the Mayor, Councillor Salih Gaygusuz, on Tuesday evening.
Gabriella, who lives in Marshalswick, was diagnosed last year with the condition Juvenile Dermatomyositis, known as JDM, that affects only one in three million children.
It is a disease of the immune system which inflicts severe muscle weakness on sufferers.
Her story was featured in the Herts Advertiser in January when the Wheatfields Junior School pupil fronted a campaign for the world-famous Great Ormond Street Hospital in London where she has spent most of the past five months.
She helped raise awareness of the disease as the hospital launched a fundraising campaign for research and equipment. So far, the appeal has gained more than £2 million.
The Mayor’s Pride Awards honour people and groups who make a positive contribution to the local community.
Long-time Oxfam volunteer Hilary Tyrell was given the Mayor’s Special Recognition Award and Sustainable St Albans took two titles.
Charity worker John Brown, artist Catherine Fenton, dance centre All Saints Studios, hospice ambassador Sue Hobley and St Albans for Refugees were the other winners.
Cllr Gaygusuz personally chose Ms Tyrell for his Special Recognition Award for her work for Oxfam and St Albans Friends of Palestine.
She took over as chair of the St Albans Oxfam Campaign Group in 2004 when she retired from teaching science at St Albans Girls’ School.
Under her leadership, the annual Oxfam Herts Hike has almost tripled in size. Last year, it attracted 270 walkers and raised £7,000.
She has also long campaigned on Palestinian issues, visiting the region, lobbying, organising meetings and collecting funds in support of associated charities.
Sustainable St Albans was named Environmental Champion of the Year and also won the Community Project of the Year award.
The group organised a week of 100 events last November to draw attention to the impact of climate change and engage the local community.
More than 130 local groups took part along with 2,000 school children and some 1,700 other residents.
All the winners, apart from Ms Tyrell, were chosen from 24 finalists by a panel of judges including the Mayor and representatives of various community groups. The others were:
Community Champion of the Year - John Brown: a charity volunteer for Computer Friendly, Tools for Africa and the Children’s Society for 10 years.
Cultural Innovation Award - Catherine Fenton: she created an unusual and challenging art competition for children and adults to promote the UN’s World Toilet Day.
Community Oriented Business of the Year - All Saints Studios: a centre for dance, education and performance involving both children and adults offering free classes for carers and other groups in need.
Voluntary Sector Award - Sue Hobley: tireless volunteer and ambassador for Rennie Grove hospice.
Inclusive Communities Award - St Albans for Refugees: a campaign group that helps refugees from war-torn Syria and other countries and has organised collections of clothing and food parcels.
The awards ceremony was held at the Ardmore House Hotel, Lemsford Road, St Albans, with 100 guests in attendance. They included Robert Voss, Deputy Lieutenant of Hertfordshire, and the Very Reverend Dr Jeffrey John, Dean of St Albans.