Herts Advertiser awards celebrate champions of communities across St Albans district

The Herts Advertiser Community Awards finalists

The Herts Advertiser Community Awards finalists - Credit: Archant

An awards ceremony recognising that community spirit is alive and thriving in the St Albans district has proved to be a spectacular success.

Launched to celebrate the newspaper’s 160th anniversary, the inaugural Herts Advertiser Community Awards aimed to reward those people who are making a significant contribution to their community, whether as a volunteer, fundraiser or unsung local hero.

Hosted by Sky Sports Formula 1 presenter David Croft at The Maltings Arts Theatre, the awards drew on representatives from all walks of life, coming together to highlight some remarkable achievements.

Speaking on the night, Herts Advertiser editor Matt Adams said: “After 8,473 issues, you can imagine how many special citizens have featured in our pages, people whose remarkable achievements and contributions to the local community might otherwise go unnoticed.

“That said, it’s surprising it has taken us more than a century and a half to launch these awards, but the best things come to those who wait. Hopefully this year’s anniversary celebrations will just be the start of an annual ceremony highlighting those people who go out of their way to ensure the St Albans district really is one of the best places in the country to live.”

Maltings manager Phil Corrigan said: “It has been an absolute pleasure to participate in the 2015 Community Hero Awards and accompany the Herts Advertiser in such a commendable promotion.

“We have met some wonderful people along the way, all of whom are winners in my book. They are all so selfless and certainly do go above and beyond.

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“It has been a very humbling experience throughout and the Maltings is very proud to have been involved from the start, we are now looking forward to supporting this again next year.”

The winner of the Young Achiever of the Year (sponsored by Putterills) was Eva Higgins. After receiving emergency treatment at Great Ormond Street Hospital to correct a heart condition Eva declared to her parents that she was determined to raise money for the hospital. The Manland Primary schoolgirl participated in several fundraising events including a fun run in Battersea Park, a clothes and Pimm’s evening and collections at school helping to raise over £4,000 for GOSH.

The Good Neighbour award (sponsored by North Hertfordshire Homes) was Colin Bower. Colin is an avid member of Amwell Local Fundraisers in Wheathampsted, a team that help disabled and needy in the village through fundraising and activities organised by the community. The group raises an average £6,000 per year by holding monthly Bingo nights, community trips and a huge Christmas Party. Colin helped start Amwell over 20 years ago and he inspires the community with his endless dedication to help others.

Picking up the Parent in a Million award (sponsored by Lancaster Falkland Press) was Chris Leigh. Using the motto of the Iron Man “that anything is possible” Chris took part in the Iron Man UK Challenge to support and raise money for Jonty, the son of one of his own son’s teachers, who has quadriplegic cerebral palsy and epilepsy.

The Great and Green award (sponsored by Red Door Recruitment) went to Sir John Lawes School in recognition of their work implementing sustainable practices within the local community and being a driving force leading the St Albans District Suitable Schools Ambassadors Programme, which directly impacts in a positive way on thousands of students across the district and the community as a whole.

The winner of the Role Model of the Year award (sponsored by Rayner Essex) was Winifred Goulden, who was described as a remarkable woman who despite her heavy caring role is willing to help others. Known as “Fred” she has been caring for various family members for over 24 years, and is proactive in in providing care at home using the support of community services to reduce hospital admissions and care costs. Fred is considered a great ambassador for carers.

The Valiant Volunteer winner (award sponsored by Hertfordshire Life magazine) was Elisabeth Pestell. Despite ill health pensioner Elisabeth volunteers and supports unpaid carers who look after a relative or friend. She has been an active member of the community for many years and has fostered over 60 children during a 33 year period.

Collecting the Charity Champion Award (sponsored by Metro Bank) was Caroline Atkins. Caroline’s tireless fundraising and voluntary work includes devoting over 30 years to the Scout Association, and raising over £6,000 for the Hospice of St Francis who cared for her family and husband Paul in the last weeks of his life in 2014. Caroline has already done a 10K Mud Pack Challenge, and with family and friends held a hugely successful Chocolate Ball which raised a staggering £10,000 for the hospice.

Carol Cahill was recognised for her Service to the Community (sponsored by Oaklands College). Carol is responsible for FEED, the food bank associated with the Vineyard Church in Ashley Road, St Albans. FEED is not just a food bank doling out endless food parcels, it also offers legal advice and a supervised play group. In additiion, Carol offers support at court hearings, from evictions to child custody cases, hospital visits, home visits and bereavement counselling.

The Lifetime Achievement award (sponsored by KDW) went to Sister Sheila O’Reilly for all the caring and selfless work she does with homeless charity Open Door.

The final award was for the Maltings Community Hero of the Year, open to all of the monthly winners featured this year in the Herts Ad. This award went to Crouch Hall Crew.

These nine Redbourn schoolgirls work tirelessly within their local area raising money for various charities. Activities include raising £90 for Water Aid, selling cakes for Down’s Syndrome charities, washing cars, painting nails and organising a jumble sale.