Meet the winners of the 2019 Herts Ad Community Awards
PUBLISHED: 11:13 12 September 2019 | UPDATED: 10:26 13 September 2019
©Cathy Benucci Photography
Selfless individuals who go out of their way to make things better for those around them were celebrated in style at the annual Herts Advertiser Community Awards.
The luxurious venue of St Albans Museum + Gallery was packed to capacity with supporters and nominees for the 2019 awards, which were presented to the worthy winners by Sky Sports Formula 1 commentator David Croft.
Herts Ad editor Nick Gill welcomed those in attendance, before handing over to Phil Corrigan from headline sponsor The Maltings who thanked the finalists in the room for their community spirit.
Reflecting on the evening, Nick said: "Our community awards provide an opportunity to celebrate the fantastic people we have in our midst who are doing amazing things, often without recognition.
"While some shy away from the spotlight, I think everyone will agree hearing our winners' stories was truly inspiring - and they absolutely deserve to be recognised for what they do.
"Hosting the awards in such a stunning setting following the 2018 restoration of St Albans Town Hall made the evening extra special, so I would like to thank St Albans City & District Council for making this happen, and to all our sponsors for their fantastic support."
This year's winners were:
Role Model of the Year (sponsored by the Herts Advertiser)
Sarah McKenna - A hugely successful England and Saracens rugby player. Following her win at the Six Nations with England at Twickenham, Sarah decided to chat to her team in the stands and behaved exactly the same as she would in the training field.
As a coach she empowers and inspires the team, she is warm, humble natured and stands at the very core of who she is and that inspires the team to be the same.
Charity Champion Award (sponsored by the St Albans Museum + Gallery)
St Albans Girls' School - On average the school raises £25,000-£30,000 per year for good causes, locally, nationally, and globally.
To raise funds for charity the community of STAGS takes part in bake sales, fun runs, running stalls selling items such as friendship bracelets, ice lolly sales and even Zumbathons.
Service to the Community Award (sponsored by St Albans Museum + Gallery)
Yvonne Tomlins - Yvonne volunteers three days a week at The Care Centre which is part of Vineyard Church, St Albans. She creates and runs two play sessions a week for the young children who come to The Care Centre, full of amazing activities and educational resources. She is also part of a small Community Cooks Project where she regularly helps serve meals to local families in times of need.
Good Neighbour Award (sponsored by Archant)
Lucy Hurley - Lucy will be climbing to the Everest Base Camp between September 26 and October 13 and has been fundraising for Ataxia UK's in memory of local disability campaigner Glen Shorey.
Young Achiever of the Year (sponsored by London Luton Airport)
Ollie Higman-Hall - Eight-year-old Ollie took on a 10-mile charity cycle in tribute to his father who died before he was born and has raised £2,237.10 for the Cardiac Rick in Young charity.
Valiant Volunteer (sponsored by the Herts Advertiser)
Sally Jarman - Through countless events Sally has tirelessly fundraised towards vital care for the children in her community with terminal and life-limiting illnesses. She has organised numerous events to raise money for Keech Hospice Care including fish and chip nights, quiz nights, raffles and more. Sally's husband Jack died 20 years ago so, at such a desperately difficult time, the only thing she felt gave her comfort was to help others in need.
Parent in a Million (sponsored by Archant)
Sophie and Simon Totten - Parents Sophie and Simon dedicate all their free time to fundraising for The Lily Foundation after a genetic disease (mitochondrial) took their daughter's life at just three months old.
Great and Green Award (sponsored by Enjoy Harpenden More)
STAGS Eco Council - Eco reps from each form meet monthly on a Wednesday at lunchtime to look at ways of improving the environment.
Key activities this year have included the Schools Less C02 Project, Sustainable St Albans Week, switch off days, Waste Aware Week, Fair Trade Fortnight, Keep STAGS Tidy, a plastic waste in the oceans lesson to Key Stage 3, work on the school garden, RSPB Wildlife Challenge Bronze Award, battery recycling, an inter-house sunflower competition and tree planting in Heartwood Forest.
Nurse/Careworker of the Year (sponsored by Spire Harpenden Hospital)
Keech Hospice Care's Children's Community Team - Led by Sonya O'Leary, the team is there to make sure sick children with a terminal or life-limiting illness receive the very best care that they deserve.
This unique team of nurses and care workers goes above and beyond 24 hours a day, seven days a week, providing free care and support according to each individual family's needs in their own homes, at schools and in hospitals - wherever they need it most.
Since the team began 19 years ago, it has cared for an incredible 1,242 children and their loved ones - and that number is on the rise with more and more families wanting their children to be at home when the time comes.
Last year, the team made a staggering 1,700 visits and more than 1,100 calls.
Carer of the Year (sponsored by B&M Care - Clare Lodge Care Home)
Batsirai Gweza - Batsirai has worked in the care sector for over 15 years and has not only given his life to the service but has done so with such love and passion.
He has always gone an extra mile to support and protect the needs of those vulnerable in our community.
He continues his passion even when away from work by always going the extra mile to take part in charity programmes and events that support the care sector.
The Maltings Community Hero (sponsored by The Maltings)
Cindy Reay McLean - April winner Cindy coordinates a donation project called St Albans Kids in Refuge, where generous locals can gift presents to children in refuges around the county.
Through the scheme, 500 residents have donated a range of gifts to the St Albans and Hertsmere Women's Refuge and Welwyn Hatfield Women's Refuge, including flat-screen TVs, PlayStations, and Xboxes. Cindy also makes sure the vulnerable youngsters have chocolate eggs to enjoy at Easter and quality presents to unwrap at Christmas.
Lifetime Achievement Award (sponsored by St Albans and District Chamber of Commerce)
Susan Varvel - Sue, director of nursing and clinical services at Rennie Grove Hospice Care, retired after 31 years as a palliative care nurse working in Herts.
She devoted her career to promoting the type of hospice care that gives people the choice to spend their last days and weeks being cared for out of hospital by specialist nurses so that they can remain at home with their families.
Visit communityawards.hertsad.co.uk for more pictures.