Comet Community Awards 2018: Tears and cheers at emotional Stevenage ceremony
PUBLISHED: 23:32 18 May 2018 | UPDATED: 13:39 24 May 2018
©2018 Cathy Benucci Photography
There were amazing stories and amazing people in Stevenage tonight at the Comet Community Awards, a celebration of all that makes our part of the world the very best.
Award winners at Hotel Cromwell in Stevenage Old Town included a Sandy schoolboy who saved his friend’s life, and a woman described by her friend as her “angel on Earth”.
Sky Sports F1 commentator and Comet Community Awards stalwart David Croft – ‘Crofty’ – hosted the annual event, which saw incredible stories among both the winners and the finalists.
The Carer of the Year award went to Elaine Kingston, who has fostered 17 children – before Thomas Alleyne Academy music teacher Caroline Merser was named Teacher of the Year.
The Valiant Volunteer prize went to tireless fire and rescue service volunteer Alan Morris.
Annette Donnelly, who gave up her work at Stevenage’s Greenside special school to be the pillar of her family, including a foster child with cerebral palsy, was named Parent in a Million.
The Young Achiever award went to Zack Allaway, who saved his best friend Frankie’s life after he got ropes from a swing choked around his neck. Zack lifted Frankie to get him air before calling 999 – and paramedics later told him but for his actions, his friend would have died.
The Great and Green award went to 85-year-old Betty Roberts for her work with the Countryside Management Service keeping our countryside tidy.
Role Model of the Year was Stevenage’s Kerryanne O’Connor – whose community work includes founding Broadwater Day aged just 10.
The Charity Champion award went to Kerry Duggan after raising thousands for causes including Garden House Hospice Care. Kerry was unable to attend as she had had a baby earlier in the day, so the hospice’s Richard Harbon collected the award on her behalf.
There was good news for the hospice’s chief executive Sue Plummer too, as she took home the Service to the Community award.
Richard Griffiths won Care Worker of the Year for his work helping a young man with mental illnesses back onto his feet.
Good Neighbour Award winner Vivien Byron was joined on stage by the woman who nominated her, Mary – and there was not a dry eye in the house as she told how “angel on Earth” Vivien had been with her every step of the way through first a hip replacement and then her husband Richard’s battle with terminal cancer.
Mary said: “I swear, I could not be here today without my angel.”
Finally, Stevenage’s Mervyn Terrett won the Lifetime Achievement award for his work as chairman of Tracks Autism and funding mature students with the Betty Game Opportunities Trust – and he grabbed the microphone from Crofty to round off the evening with a barnstorming speech.
Hotel Cromwell’s Dean Thompson, who presented Mervyn’s award, summed up the feeling on the night when he said: “Everybody here is a winner in my eyes.”
For more about the community awards, see cometcommunityawards.co.uk.