Selfless acts, true dedication, amazing fundraising and tales of inspiration - these are just some of the heart-warming tributes paid to the people nominated for their outstanding service to the community at the Pride in Fenland Awards.
Councillor Alan Melton praised the unsung heroes for their “truly wonderful work” and said Fenland would not be as vibrant and thriving as it is today without their efforts.
The prestigious awards are spearheaded by Fenland District Council in conjunction with the Fenland Citizen and carry £100 in vouchers for the category winners.
Everyone nominated received a certificate in recognition of their amazing work and for the second year, a special Judges Award was presented along with runners-up trophies. Citizen readers nominated their Good Neighbours, Young Citizen, and Group/Club/Organisation.
There were stories of devoted volunteers and people who put their own problems aside to help others.
Winner of the Good Neighbour award was Benwick mum Emily Shepperson (28) who won a £30,000 picnic for the village in a national competition in a bid to rekindle community spirit. Over 400 residents attended with many being bussed in free.
Runner-up was 75 year-old Brian Beales from Leverington who was unable to attend on the night. Brian was nominated for his involvement in the village and his community spirit.
The Groups’ winner was Twin Parks Residents’ Association of Wisbech for their outstanding contribution which makes a difference to hundreds of people who are mainly elderly. The group was nominated for its successful campaigning, fundraising and the wide variety of activities organised from social and welfare to coffee mornings and computer literacy courses.
Runner-up was Chatteris Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal spearheaded by Poppy Appeal organiser for the last 20 years, Lynda Behagg. The appeal has raised thousands over the years and Lynda (who was unable to attend on the night) was praised for her tireless dedication.
The Young Citizen winner was 15 year-old Marshland High School pupil Nuala Esfahani from Wisbech nominated as an inspiring and enthusiastic member of a Jammin project. Nuala is also a young carer, who helps her parents with her sister Lyra (17) who has Downs Syndrome and also learning disabilities.
Runner-up was 17 year-old Brandon Mattless from Wisbech who is involved in many projects and gives up much of his time to the community. He even stands in for Santa at a local primary school.
This year the judges were so inspired by one nominee they decided to present a Special Award to Gillian Goodchild (52), of Wisbech, who has turned tragedy into something positive after she lost her son Daniel Rose (25) to cancer in 2009. Her daughter, Samantha Rose, nominated her mum, who has dedicated herself to fundraising for the Teenage Cancer Trust, specifically for a ward at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, following Daniel’s death. She has completed the Three Peaks Challenge, a Zumbathon, held fundraising events and in June is cycling 60 miles to help a local boy with dystonic cerebral palsy.
Gillian, a teaching assistant at Peckover School, said: “I am just a mum who found herself in this horrible situation. Having lost a child I needed to do something, either it gets you down or you have to turn it around and do something positive.”