Hundreds of people turned out to celebrate the inspiring achievements of Central Bedfordshire’s volunteers.
The third Cheering Volunteering awards and celebration evening took place at the Grove Theatre, in Dunstable, on Tuesday evening (6 June).
The annual event began in 2015 to thank the many volunteers and voluntary organisations across Central Bedfordshire for the often unheralded work they do to help others in their community.
And they have grown since then, with the judging panel this year particularly impressed by the quality of the entries.
It was organised by Central Bedfordshire Council, working in partnership with the Volunteer Centres as part of Central Bedfordshire Together, and sponsored by Biffa, Aragon Housing, the Fire Service, ProLogis and Jeakins Weir.
Before the ceremony began, people attending the event enjoyed a showcase of volunteering opportunities from organisations across Central Bedfordshire.
And then it was on to the event itself, with the hundreds in attendance watching seven awards being presented as well as a host of great entertainment.
The winners and highly commended in each category were:
Young Volunteer of the Year: Winner – Sasha Mead (Aldwyck Housing); Highly commended – Daisy Witts and Emily Williams
Volunteer of the Year: Winner – Tricia Humber (Money Matters credit union); Highly commended – Annmarie Boyle and Nick Berg
Volunteer Group of the Year: Winner – BLEVEC emergency volunteers; Highly commended – Hospice at Home (Dunstable and Houghton Regis), Houghton Regis Art Town and Houghton Regis Youth Action Team
Outstanding Contribution Award: Winner – Michael Hyde (Healthwatch Central Bedfordshire); Highly commended – David Wootton and Scott Kimberley
Lifetime Achievement Award: Winner – Dave Edwards (Leighton Linslade Rotary Club); Highly commended – Nicola James and Michael Grant
Fundraiser of the Year Award: Winner – Sue Sheppard (long-term fundraiser for Rethink Mental Illness); Highly commended – Luke Newman
John Buxton Panel’s Choice Award: Winner – Flitton & Greenfield Good Neighbours; Highly commended – Adam Bell, Clive and Angela Bucknall and Katie and Brian Juffs
Entertainment came from Natasha Rowe, part of Central Bedfordshire Children in Care Council, former award winner Ukie Toones, Kimberly Shaw and Lana Tookey, with the event being compered for a third time by the ever-popular Billy Lee.
New for this year was the ‘Inspiring Volunteering’ small grants scheme, with a total funding pot of £5,000 to help local voluntary and community sector community projects start new projects involving volunteers.
It saw 14 voluntary and community organisations received grant awards ranging from £100-£1,000 for projects to help encourage volunteering and support residents of Central Bedfordshire.
Central Bedfordshire Council’s new Chairman Councillor Fiona Chapman held her civic reception at the theatre, accompanied by new Vice Chairman Cllr Brian Saunders, before attending the evening in her ceremonial role.
She said: “What an amazing and inspirational event. I would like to congratulate not only the award winners and those who were highly commended in each category, but all of the other nominees and everyone who had a part to play in the evening.
“Volunteers are the lifeblood of our society so it was very fitting to celebrate their achievements during national Volunteers’ Week.”
To find out more about Cheering Volunteering, as well as the grant scheme, visit www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/council/stronger-communities/awards-event.aspx