Herts Advertiser Community Awards celebrate the cream of St Albans district’s community

Herts Advertiser Community Awards 2016 winner Gabriella Farrugia.

Herts Advertiser Community Awards 2016 winner Gabriella Farrugia. - Credit: Archant

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

The second Herts Advertiser Community Awards aim 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: “The nominees gathered here tonight know first hand how they can improve their communities, help others and, yes, make a real difference.

“We might have reported on their achievements in the Herts Advertiser over the past year, but the inspiration and initiative to stand up and be counted came from within themselves, and I am sure they would have succeeded even without our support and publicity.

“You nominees are the lifeblood of the St Albans district – but you are also the heart, and you are the soul. Your selfish determination to make things better for those around you is remarkable, and the rest of us gathered here tonight should be humbled by your efforts.”

The Young Achiever of the Year Award went to Gabriella Farrugia, an 11-year-old who suffers from a very rare illness called Juvenile Dermatomyositis which inflicts severe muscle weakness on its sufferers. Gabriella has fronted a campaign for the Great Ormond Street Hospital to raise funds for research and equipment. So far, the appeal has gained more than £2 million.

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Dave Glanville, known to those in the Bedford Road area of St Albans as “Community Dave”, won the Good Neighbour Award. Dave runs garden and Christmas competitions in the streets around Bedford Road getting hundreds of entrants. He also gets support from local businesses to donate prizes and arranges for Santa to sell Christmas raffle tickets door to door.

The Parent in a Million Award went to Sarah Hope. The Chancellor’s 2016 Budget included a £1.5 million NHS fund for sports prosthetics for child amputees. The pledge came after a campaign by Sarah, of Harpenden, whose daughter Pollyanna lost her right leg below the knee when she was hit by a bus in London. Sarah has since fought relentlessly for the rights of child amputees.

The Park Street Pickers, a group formed in 2008 to collect litter in Park Street, Chiswell Green and Bricket Wood, won the Great and Green Award. More than 40 bags of rubbish were collected in two hours during a recent effort by the Pickers, a group of locals aged from children to pensioners.

The Role Model of the Year award was shared between the members of rock band Purple Day. The band, made up of the Pile brothers Zach, 10, Finn, 13 and Josh, 16, performed at the Blacksmith Arms to raise money for the St Elizabeth’s Centre that cares for their eldest sibling Luke, who has epilepsy.

Valant Volunteer of the Year is Leslie Pedrick.Les became a volunteer with Rennie Grove Hospice Care just 16 months ago but has made a huge impact as an information and support volunteer in the urology clinic at St Albans City Hospital. He also helps out at the Day Hospice at Grove House in St Albans and regularly takes part in street collections to raise much needed funds.

The Charity Champion of the Year Award went to Mike Eames, landlord of the Green Man pub in Sandridge since 1988. Mike has raised thousands of pounds for charity. His main charity is the Rennie Grove House Hospice and over the past 10 years he has raised a staggering £69,000 on their behalf. Once a month, Mike also takes children with special educational needs fishing near Hertford.

Dad of three Ed Suttie, who undertook an epic voyage to the North Pole walking for 21 days covering 200km, was recognised for his Service to the Community. Ed’s fundraising efforts raised more than £30,000 for four charities: The UK Antarctic Heritage Trust, Cancer Research UK, Earthworks St Albans and Rennie Grove Hospice Care. He organised numerous fundraising events with his wife Clare.

The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented posthumously to Thelma Lofthouse, a lifelong member of the Salvation Army. Thelma, who died recently aged 90, was adopted by a St Albans tailor who played in the Salvation Army band. Along with her husband Denis, she was at the centre of church life for more than 60 years and prepared Christmas lunch for over 100 lonely and elderly people in the city.

The final award, the Maltings Community Hero, was also won by Gabriella Farrugia.

Maltings manager Phil Corrigan added: “The awards ceremony this year was even better than last, we had a phenomenal turn out and everyone was in such good spirits.

“It was an absolute privilege to be surrounded by some of the city’s most selfless and brave citizens once more. Hearing the finalists’ stories again reinforces the fact that the awards are essential, these local heroes need to be recognised. The support from local businesses in sponsoring individual awards, well, it simply highlights and strengthens the community spirit and goodwill that our great city has.”