Comet Community Awards 2018: Tears and cheers at emotional Stevenage ceremony

PUBLISHED: 23:32 18 May 2018 | UPDATED: 13:39 24 May 2018

Comet Community Awards 2018: This year's winners. Picture: Cathy Benucci Photography

Comet Community Awards 2018: This year's winners. Picture: Cathy Benucci Photography

©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.

Formula 1's David Croft during his opening speech at the 2018 Comet Community Awards. Picture: JP AsherFormula 1's David Croft during his opening speech at the 2018 Comet Community Awards. Picture: JP Asher

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”.

Comet editor Nick Gill makes his opening speech at the 2018 Comet Community Awards. Picture: JP AsherComet editor Nick Gill makes his opening speech at the 2018 Comet Community Awards. Picture: JP Asher

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.

Comet Community Awards 2018: Elaine Kingston, our Carer of the Year, with Chris Burrows from sponsors Pinehill Hospital and host David Croft. Picture: Cathy Benucci PhotographyComet Community Awards 2018: Elaine Kingston, our Carer of the Year, with Chris Burrows from sponsors Pinehill Hospital and host David Croft. Picture: Cathy Benucci Photography

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.

Comet Community Awards 2018: Teacher of the Year Caroline Merser with Malcolm Evely from sponsors Airbus and host David Croft. Picture: Cathy Benucci PhotographyComet Community Awards 2018: Teacher of the Year Caroline Merser with Malcolm Evely from sponsors Airbus and host David Croft. Picture: Cathy Benucci Photography

The Valiant Volunteer prize went to tireless fire and rescue service volunteer Alan Morris.

Comet Community Awards 2018: Alan Morris, winner of the Valiant Volunteer category, with Sue Murray from sponsors Hertfordshire Foster with Us and host David Croft. Picture: Cathy Benucci PhotographyComet Community Awards 2018: Alan Morris, winner of the Valiant Volunteer category, with Sue Murray from sponsors Hertfordshire Foster with Us and host David Croft. Picture: Cathy Benucci Photography

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.

Comet Community Awards 2018: Annette Donnelly, our Parent in a Million, with Comet editor Nick Gill and host David Croft. Picture: Cathy Benucci PhotographyComet Community Awards 2018: Annette Donnelly, our Parent in a Million, with Comet editor Nick Gill and host David Croft. Picture: Cathy Benucci Photography

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.

Comet Community Awards 2018: Zack Allaway, winner of theYoung Achiever award, with Luca Bellavita from sponsors Altro Flooring Group and host David Croft. Picture: Cathy Benucci PhotographyComet Community Awards 2018: Zack Allaway, winner of theYoung Achiever award, with Luca Bellavita from sponsors Altro Flooring Group and host David Croft. Picture: Cathy Benucci Photography

The Great and Green award went to 85-year-old Betty Roberts for her work with the Countryside Management Service keeping our countryside tidy.

Comet Community Awards 2018: Betty Roberts, winner of the Great and Green award, with Tim Hodgson from sponsors ReAssure and host David Croft. Picture: Cathy Benucci PhotographyComet Community Awards 2018: Betty Roberts, winner of the Great and Green award, with Tim Hodgson from sponsors ReAssure and host David Croft. Picture: Cathy Benucci Photography

Role Model of the Year was Stevenage’s Kerryanne O’Connor – whose community work includes founding Broadwater Day aged just 10.

Comet Community Awards 2018: Kerryanne O'Connor, our Role Model of the Year, with Jay Jennings from sponsors Specsavers Stevenage and host David Croft. Picture: Cathy Benucci PhotographyComet Community Awards 2018: Kerryanne O'Connor, our Role Model of the Year, with Jay Jennings from sponsors Specsavers Stevenage and host David Croft. Picture: Cathy Benucci Photography

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.

Comet Community Awards 2018: Garden House Hospice Care's Richard Harbon collected the Charity Champions award on behalf of Kerry Duggan, who gave birth on the day of the awards. Richard is pictured with Isaac Rabel and Chicko Ndumu, students at sponsors Kingshott School, and host David Croft. Picture: Cathy Benucci PhotographyComet Community Awards 2018: Garden House Hospice Care's Richard Harbon collected the Charity Champions award on behalf of Kerry Duggan, who gave birth on the day of the awards. Richard is pictured with Isaac Rabel and Chicko Ndumu, students at sponsors Kingshott School, and host David Croft. Picture: Cathy Benucci Photography

There was good news for the hospice’s chief executive Sue Plummer too, as she took home the Service to the Community award.

Comet Community Awards 2018: Sue Plummer, winner of the Service to the Community award, with Graham Reynolds from sponsors Redwood Bank and host David Croft. Picture: Cathy Benucci PhotographyComet Community Awards 2018: Sue Plummer, winner of the Service to the Community award, with Graham Reynolds from sponsors Redwood Bank and host David Croft. Picture: Cathy Benucci Photography

Richard Griffiths won Care Worker of the Year for his work helping a young man with mental illnesses back onto his feet.

Comet Community Awards 2018: Nurse/Care Worker of the Year Richard Griffiths with Anne Newton from sponsors B&M Care and host David Croft. Picture: Cathy Benucci PhotographyComet Community Awards 2018: Nurse/Care Worker of the Year Richard Griffiths with Anne Newton from sponsors B&M Care and host David Croft. Picture: Cathy Benucci Photography

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.

Comet Community Awards 2018: Good Neighbour of the Year winner Vivien Byron with Craig Taylor from sponsors Arriva and host David Croft. Picture: Cathy Benucci PhotographyComet Community Awards 2018: Good Neighbour of the Year winner Vivien Byron with Craig Taylor from sponsors Arriva and host David Croft. Picture: Cathy Benucci Photography

Mary said: “I swear, I could not be here today without my angel.”

Good Neighbour award winner Vivien Byron, centre, with the woman who nominated her, Mary. David Croft looks on. Picture: Nick GillGood Neighbour award winner Vivien Byron, centre, with the woman who nominated her, Mary. David Croft looks on. Picture: Nick Gill

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.

Comet Community Awards 2018: Mervyn Terrett, winner of the Lifetime Achievement award, with an estatic Dean Thompson from sponsors Hotel Cromwell and host David Croft. Picture: Cathy Benucci PhotographyComet Community Awards 2018: Mervyn Terrett, winner of the Lifetime Achievement award, with an estatic Dean Thompson from sponsors Hotel Cromwell and host David Croft. Picture: Cathy Benucci Photography

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.”

Comet Community Awards 2018: Elaine Kingston, our Carer of the Year, with Chris Burrows from sponsors Pinehill Hospital and host David Croft. Picture: Cathy Benucci PhotographyComet Community Awards 2018: Elaine Kingston, our Carer of the Year, with Chris Burrows from sponsors Pinehill Hospital and host David Croft. Picture: Cathy Benucci Photography

For more about the community awards, see cometcommunityawards.co.uk.

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