North Herts heroes recognised at Chairman’s Volunteer Achievement Awards 2019

NHDC's Claire Morgan (left) and Councillor John Bishop (centre) with the Chairman's Volunteer Awards

NHDC's Claire Morgan (left) and Councillor John Bishop (centre) with the Chairman's Volunteer Awards 2019 winners (left to right): Chris Parker, Shane Cole, Lucy Cook-Allen, Callum Ellis and Yasmin-Kate Patterson - who received the Green Award on behalf of Suzy Holding. Picture: Nic Cooper - Credit: Nic Cooper

North Herts heroes who ‘go the extra mile’ to make a difference in their communities were celebrated at a volunteer awards ceremony on Friday.

NHDC Chairman's Volunteer Awards 2019 winner Helen Ilsey could not attend the ceremony, so picked up

NHDC Chairman's Volunteer Awards 2019 winner Helen Ilsey could not attend the ceremony, so picked up her Dedication Award on a different day. Picture: NHDC - Credit: NHDC

There were six winners at this year’s Chairman’s Volunteer Achievement Awards, which was organised by North Herts District Council.

Sponsored by Letchworth-based construction and property services company Willmott Dixon and backed by the Comet newspaper, the awards were held at The Priory in Little Wymondley as part of the council’s celebratory reception.

All the winners were nominated by members of the public and chosen by the judging panel, which comprised of NHDC’s chairman John Bishop, Steven Roberts and Jack Wells from Wilmott Dixon, Anne Taylor from North Herts CVS, and Comet and Royston Crow editor Nick Gill.

Each winner was presented with an engraved glass trophy, bouquet of flowers and gift vouchers to acknowledge their volunteering achievements.

Reflecting on the night, Councillor Bishop said: “We are delighted that the hard work and dedication of volunteers in the district has been recognised by these awards. We owe our gratitude to these people who selflessly give their time and skills for free to help their communities.”

Letchworth’s Shane Cole won the Caring Award for his ‘Feed Up, Warm Up’ initiative, which he set up in Hitchin in December.

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It operates every Wednesday evening from the Scout Hut at Our Lady’s Catholic Church, providing hot food, food parcels, warm clothes, haircuts, chiropody, sanitary items and signposting services for vulnerable people.

Shane said: “I feel honoured to have won this award. The work our team does is outstanding. From Citizens Advice North Herts to the tea makers, we all work together to accomplish our vision.”

Helen Ilsley was recognised for her voluntary work at the MS Society’s North Herts branch by receiving the Dedication Award.

Helen has supported the MS community in North Herts by volunteering and managing charity collections, dedicating her time and commitment to the organising of fundraising and social and wellbeing events, while continually being available to support those with MS.

Helen, who was unable to attend on the night, said: “I have been involved with the North Herts MS Society as a welfare/support volunteer virtually 43 years now. This has meant trying to help people diagnosed with MS to continue with their lives in a positive way.”

Suzy Holding – the brains behind the Best Before Café, which opened its doors in Letchworth last year – took home the Green Award.

Suzy and her army of helpers work on a volunteer basis to tackle food waste by collecting supermarket food surplus and offering it to local people for donations of money, time or skills.

She said: “Winning the Green Award for Best Before Café demonstrates how much the Letchworth community cares about the environment, food, a fairer society and each other.”

Hitchin Town Ladies manager Callum Ellis picked up this year’s Sporting Award.

Callum has dedicated himself to football by coaching people with disabilities and taking the Hitchin Town Ladies from relegation to top of the league in two years. His commitment to the ladies team has brought not only great achievement, but outstanding sportsmanship too.

Callum said: “I am proud to have been recognised of my achievements within the three years I’ve worked with Hitchin Town Ladies FC. All those at Hitchin Town Ladies FC I cannot thank enough for the support because, without them, the club wouldn’t be here.”

The Young Star award went to Lucy Cook-Allen, who is actively involved in her community.

A Beaver leader, a choir member at Letchworth’s St George’s Church, and a St John Ambulance cadet; she also represented Letchworth at the Lord Mayor’s Show and the London Pride march.

And, finally, the Judges’ Special Recognition award went to Hitchin’s Chris Parker.

Chris received the award for his work with the Walsworth Community Centre, which he has been involved with for more than 30 years. He has been instrumental in the transition of the centre to its new lease and has been at the forefront of the building’s refurbishment.

Chris said: “I am honoured to receive this award for my involvement with the Walsworth Community Centre, working with the volunteers and charity groups at the centre. It has been my pleasure to serve the community.”