South Tyneside’s army of volunteers have been recognised in a prestigious awards ceremony led by the Mayor.
People from across the borough who had been nominated by groups they support were invited to South Shields Town Hall for the first Community Voluntary Service awards.
The event was aimed at recognising the countless hours given by volunteers to ensure vital services relied upon by those less fortunate than themselves continue to be run.
The awards – which will become an annual event – also aim to increase awareness of the valuable work undertaken by volunteers in South Tyneside.
Mayor of South Tyneside Coun Fay Cunningham said: “It is not until you become Mayor and you are invited to all these different groups that you realise just how many volunteers we have in South Tyneside.
“Without their time and commitment to their individual groups and organisations, I really do believe South Tyneside would grind to a halt. The work they undertake is incredible.
“The team of judges had such a hard time choosing our winners as every single person nominated was a winner in our eyes – just reading why each person or group was nominated gave you such a sense of pride of belonging to South Tyneside. We do really have some remarkable people among us.”
The awards were separated into four different categories.
Thriving Communities was won by the People’s Café based in the Central Library, South Shields, which offers healthy soup and sandwiches to customers as well as hosting cooking demonstrations to increase people’s knowledge of healthy eating.
The Improving Health and Wellbeing award was won by Emma Clark from Options in South Shields, and Pat Donaldson from the Hospital Volunteer Service.
Both women give their time to support others who need help and advice to improve their own health and wellbeing.
Alison Jordan from 324 Squadron Air Training Corps, based in Highfield Road, South Shields, was presented with the Inspiring Young People Award for her dedication and commitment to the young people who attend the group.
The Volunteer of the Year was presented to Maureen Hall from Horizons, based in Beach Road, South Shields, who gives up her time to support those who are trying to overcome their drink, drug or gambling addictions. The Judges’ Special Award was presented to Cancer Connections, based in Harton Lane, South Shields, which provides help, support and advice to those diagnosed with cancer and their families.
Volunteer co-ordinator Ian Carr said: “These awards have been set up to thank those volunteers for their exceptional hard work and the vital support they give within South Tyneside.
“Some of the people they support have no friends or family they can turn to, and without the help provided by these volunteers we would have a lot more people who would be feeling isolated, vulnerable and alone.”
Award categories and winners
* Winner: The People’s Cafe Volunteers
* Highly Commended : Lynn David and Cheryl MacDonald
Improving Health and Wellbeing
* Winner: Emma Clark (Options)
* Winner: Pat Donaldson (Hospital Volunteer Service)
* Highly Commended: Bill Dodsworth (Carers Association South Tyneside)
Inspiring Young People
* Winner: Alison Jordan (324 Squadron Air Training Corps)
* Highly Commended: Shirley Jones (Horsley Hill Youth Project)
Volunteer of the Year
* Winner: Maureen Hall (Horizons)
* Highly Commended (June Airton (Carers Association South Tyneside)
Judges’ Special Award
Certificates of recognition
* Mandy Fellows (First Contact Clinical)
* Moyra Bauman, Jean Ingram, Brenda Bowman, Pat Trotter, Gladys Harbison, Margaret Shaw, Brian Gilchrist, Christina Malone, Brenda Hornby, Susan Kelsey, Irene Grant, Antonia Lenier (Carers Association South Tyneside)
* Christine Mellan, Karen weaver, Ashleigh Metcalfe, Megan Iredale, Suzanne Stonefais (Impact family Services)
* Lynn Frazer, Peter Frazer (Mental health Concern)
* Joe Grant
* Michael Myers, Peter Harratty (Horizons).