Comet Community Awards 2019: Here are your winners
PUBLISHED: 23:28 16 May 2019 | UPDATED: 12:39 22 May 2019
Our annual Comet Community Awards took place this evening - with 12 worthy winners, alongside our fantastic finalists, celebrating great work and achievements in Stevenage and North Herts over the last year.
The event at the Hotel Cromwell in Stevenage began with a performance by The Gordon Craig Theatre's Senior Drama Academy and welcome speech from Comet editor Nick Gill.
Following a few words from Hotel Cromwell manager Dean Thompson and an evening meal, we handed over to our host - Formula 1's David Croft - and the award ceremony was under way.
Kicking things off was the award for Carer of the Year, sponsored by Pinehill Hospital.
Taking home the award was foster carer Debbie Gardner, who changed the lives of two sisters when she took them in back in 2016.
Debbie said: "It's something I always wanted to do, to give the children a chance in life."
Finalists for this category were Lesley Anderson, who provides home care for the Hales Hertfordshire branch, and Terri Holland - who has been caring for Ellie Matraves for the last six years.
Assistant headteacher at Peartree Spring Primary School, Jackie Massey, took home the award for Teacher of the Year, sponsored by Airbus. She has been described by colleagues as having "contagious enthusiasm".
Finalists were Mark Allchorn, former Barclay School headteacher, assistant headteacher at Pixmore Junior School Susan Willans and head of creative arts at Hitchin Boys' School, Anne-Marie Hetherington.
The Valiant Volunteer Award, sponsored by Hertfordshire Foster With Us, was won by Des Waterfall for his enthusiastic approach to his volunteer and fundraising work with Garden House Hospice Care.
The category's finalists were The Therapy Dog Team - who bring joy to patients at Lister Hospital by bringing their dogs in for visits - Pam Johnson, who works to support Carers in Bedfordshire, and Katherine West - who has volunteered with the Thalidomide Society and Pixmore Junior School for many years.
Sponsored by the Comet newspaper, the Parent in a Million Award went to Amanda and Colin Cartwright, who are described by their two daughters a "selfless, generous and patient", as well as being incredible grandparents and full-time babysitters.
Finalists for Parent in a Million were Anne and John Bobeckyj, Mandy Davies and Gemma Keir.
Avid fundraiser Holly Manning, aged 11, took home the award for Young Achiever, sponsored by Altro Ltd. Holly was the youngest person to complete the Macmillan All Out Swim back in 2016 and has gone on to raise thousands various charities.
Finalists for this category were eight-year-old Lyla Thompson-Wells, 11-year-old Alfie Aldridge and nine-year-old Alfie Pitt.
Taking home the Great and Green Award, sponsored by Steven Eagell Toyota & Lexus, was Hayley Sarll, who set up the Camps Hill Primary School's Forest School and has done much more besides.
Finalists for this category were Chris Birt, Paul Dee and the Plastic Free Letchworth Team.
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Firefighter Lee Crake wasn't able to attend but was declared the Role Model of the Year - sponsored by SpecSavers - for his determination to complete a six-day ultra-marathon through the Sahara Desert in April, in aid of The Fire Fighters' Charity.
Other finalists were Kenny Arnold, Lee Redmond and Satinder Sidhu.
Our Charity Champions award, sponsored by A-Top Property Lettings, was won by 11-year-old Holly Manning, making it her second award of the night.
Finalists for this award included Charlie Phillips, Glyn Doggett and Sally Jarman.
Keech Hospice Care picked up the award for Nurse/Care Worker of the Year, sponsored by B&M Care.
The team at Keech made 1,700 visits and more than 1,100 calls to children with terminal or life-limiting illness last year.
Finalists included the Short Stay Unit Team at Lister Hospital, The Hawthorne Centre Team at Garden House Hospice Care and Victoria Barton.
The Good Neighbour award, sponsored by Arriva, went to Georgia Hunt - who is described as "the kind of person that would stop in the street to help anyone".
Georgia said: "I volunteer as a Brownie leader to 13 amazing girls, work in schools and after school clubs. They always give me a reason to smile and get up in the morning."
Finalists for this award were John Wigglesworth, John Hammond and John Bloxham.
Letchworth's Shane Cole picked up the Service to the Community Award, sponsored by Redwood Bank.
Shane started the Feed Up Warm Up initiative in Hitchin and Stevenage which feeds the homeless - while also providing warm clothes, counselling, hair cuts and more - during his weekly drop-ins.
In an emotional speech, he said: "Although this award says 'Shane Cole', it should say 'Feed Up Warm Up', because I couldn't do it without the volunteers, I have got the most amazing team behind me."
Finalists for this accolade were Katharine Boddy, Jeanette Farrow and Latha Gunathunga.
Director of Patient Services at Garden House Hospice Care Jayne Dingemans was awarded the Lifetime Achievement prize this year, sponsored by Hotel Cromwell.
Jayne has been in her current role for 3½ years and is described as being "instrumental in leading the way to enhance and increase the support to hundreds of people with life-limiting illnesses in North Herts".
Jayne said: "I am proud to be a nurse. I work with an incredible team, and have all the way through my career. The best thing is being able to make that difference."
Finalists were Richard Barr, Donald Monk and Keith Hoskins.
Well done to all of our winners and finalists!