GALLERY: Comet country heroes celebrated at awards ceremony

EMOTIONS ran high as heroes from Comet country were recognised for their inspiring and selfless work in the community at an awards ceremony last Thursday (May 31).

In association with Garden Square Shopping Centre in Letchworth GC, Hitchin Town Hall was the chosen venue for the Comet Community Awards 2012 which was transformed into a spectacle to celebrate people who have gone that extra mile in their community.

Awards across 12 categories, including Valiant Volunteer, Carer of the Year and Parent in a Million, were dished out by sponsors with BBC Radio 5Live’s Formula 1 commentator David Croft acting as compere.

The evening kicked off with a performance by Letchworth City Chorus conducted by Tony Ridgway-Cole. The 50 strong members sang a rendition of O’ Maria, Hallelujah and Bridge Over Troubled Water while invitees tucked into a buffet dinner.

Local dignitaries also attended the prestigious event along with the finalist’s family and friends to celebrate the significant impact people, young and old are making in the community.

Among the winners was Laura Rutherford, 19, from Hitchin, who was crowned Young Achiever after battling with anorexia from the age of 12.

After her father died, Laura showed great strength and courage in overcoming the illness to secure fantastic results in her A-levels.

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The University of Canterbury student said: “Anorexia affects your whole life. After I lost my dad it gave me perspective and I wanted to make him proud. Winning this award is overwhelming.”

Role model of the year was presented to Anna Morris, 28, from Stevenage who turned her life around after she was made homeless twice.

Heavily involved with a homeless charity, she is using her experiences to help other young people who have found themselves homeless or at risk of homelessness.

“I was nominated by my colleague, and I was shocked and totally overwhelmed when my name was announced. I feel honoured to have won this award but I wouldn’t have been able to get my life back on track had it not have been for the support and help that Herts Young Homeless gave me.”

Among the winners was Sharon Fane who won Teacher of the Year. Husband and wife, Viv and Andy Williams joint effort saw them both claim the Service to Community prize.

Other winners included Wendy Abbot who has cared for her husband for the past 23 years after he suffered a stroke, Martin Hill took home the Valiant Volunteer award. Nurse/Care Worker of the year went to Sally Chums. Hitchin Community Gardens was crowned Great and Green, Andy Nation took away Charity Champion and Ray Meadwinter was crowned Good Neighbour of the Year.

The evening concluded with the Lifetime Achievement award which was presented to Jenny Young who had been up for three awards. For Jenny it was a double celebration as she was also awarded Parent in a Million for recognition for her care for her daughter who suffers from epilepsy and learning difficulties and also for her work with Carers in Herts.

Jenny said: “I was very surprised that I was nominated and even more surprised that I won two of them, it is quite humbling. I think an evening like this is wonderful as it recognises people and highlights what goes on in the community.”

All finalists were awarded a certificate while the winners were presented with an encrusted glass award.

*Click on the link at the top right of the page to view a gallery of the winners.