A homeless teenager with an inspirational story of volunteering despite her own personal circumstances scooped two awards at the Dunstable and Houghton Regis Business and Community Awards on Thursday.
Lizzie Chapman, of Signposts, in Houghton Regis, has balanced the challenges of living in a hostel, going to college where she has completed two courses, and her volunteering, which has included Clean for the Queen, Messy Church, Incredible Edibles and being a marshal at fireworks, festivals and carnivals.
Vicki Stonham, of awards organisers Your Marketing Needs, said: “The judges were truly stunned at this young lady’s determination and fighting spirit despite circumstances which would have floored lesser characters. She was the very worthy winner of the Young Hero and Volunteer of the Year categories.
“We had another fantastic night at Dunstable Conference Centre and we have already had pledges from sponsors for 2017 so we hope to see faces old and new this time next year.”
The proceeds of the raffle and the bar takings will be used to buy food for the Dunstable Foodbank and the organisers will be letting everyone know how much they made before Christmas.
Other stories from the night include:
Lynn Lewis, from Kensworth, won the Lifetime Achievement accolade for her many years of volunteering in her community at the same time as being a mother and holding down a full time job at the Luton & Dunstable Hospital.
The Community Business of the Year title was awarded to the Disability Resource Centre, in Dunstable by South West Bedfordshire MP, Andrew Selous, who chose them as winners and presented the award. He said the area was very lucky to have such as business in its midst.
Young IT support company Jam Crackers, of Leighton Buzzard, won the prestigious Business of the Year and Customer Care titles after wowing the judges with their company’s fast growth.
Totternhoe Lower School was delighted after winning two awards. Deborah Mitchelmore won the Teacher of the Year Award for her consistent outstanding professionalism and complete dedication to the children. Shannon Murray was awarded the Apprentice of the Year title for her calm and gentle manner and for encouraging the shyest of children.
New Dunstable barber shop Gents Barbering, in High Street South, impressed the judges with their impact on the town since opening and scooped the Retailer of the Year title.
Meaningful Education, based in Luton’s Hat Factory, won the New Business of the Year title. They specialise in mental health, training, life coaching and consultancy.
Maria Collins, of home care company Home Instead Luton and Central Bedfordshire, received the Carer of the Year title after her team was nominated by one of the people they care for.
The Bell Inn, Studham, won the Hospitality of the Year title after the judges were impressed by the consistent approach of the family run business.
Ian Rudlehoff, of D&I Butchers, in Houghton Regis, won the Role Model of the Year award for his attitude to his staff and business despite illness in his family.
Luke Spellen, of Protect My Property, in Luton, won the Employee of the Year title after receiving glowing references from his employers
Builder Dean Jowett, of DRJ Building Services, in Dunstable, won the Trades Person of the Year title after the judges received a raft of positive nominations from people he has worked for.
The Sports award was won by Houghton Athletic FC, in Houghton Regis.
Started 13 years ago it has 12 teams and is still growing, including what is understood to be the first ladies football team in Houghton Regis.
Former Dunstable Mayor, Liz Jones, won the Good Neighbour Award after she was nominated for all her work in her local community.
Queensbury School’s Tyler Bates won the Student of the Year award for his volunteering for St John Ambulance, and the Incredible Edible project in Dunstable.