Wilmslow's first ever Community Awards, organised by the Wilmslow Business Group to celebrate remarkable people in the local community, took place last night at the Evans Theatre in Wilmslow.
An enthusiastic audience came to see the eleven awards given to some extremely worthy winners. BBC North West Tonight's Annabel Tiffin hosted the event which was hailed as a "great celebration of community spirit".
Each category was judged by a core team made up of James Pulle (Head teacher at Wilmslow High School), Keith Purdom (Chairman of Wilmslow Town Council) and Catherine Mackenzie (Chairman of Wilmslow Business Group). They were then joined by each relevant category sponsor to help with their decision.
The first award of the evening 'Service with a Smile' went to Ruth Stiegler from Sainsbury's. Joe McBride then picked up the 'Youth and Student of the Year' award for his involvement in the SK9 Youth Group, being selected as Cheshire East Youth Member of Parliament and planning and construction of Wilmslow High School garden entry at the Tatton RHS Show.
Neighbour of the Year went to Betty Wood who was nominated "for her help for the whole road, she sweeps the streets, feeds the cats, bakes cakes, waters plants, and babysits". Whilst the Cinema on the Carrs and Party on the Carrs, which was organised by Wilmslow Town Council and took place in June, was chosen as the Event of the Year.
Imogen Young-Lee, 15, was named 'Young Hero'. Imogen has had to stand up and become the main carer in her family home since her mum was suddenly taken ill and left wheel-chair bound. She also looks after her younger sister who has autism and, despite all this, Imogen continues to do well at school and home and is now helping the Carers Trust to champion the rights of other young carers.
'Business of the Year' went to Wilmslow Kitchen Cookery School and Rebecca Stone from Lindow Primary School won Teacher of the Year, her nominee said "She has made my son¹s life and education so much richer with her involvement. She is amazing."
The Innovation in the Community award went Steve Kennedy for coming up with the Wilmslow Motor Show concept and Volunteer of the Year went to Julie Brown for running the Street Sports Session and for her dedication to the young people of Lacey Green.
Steve Kennedy said "Wilmslow Motor Show was always about bringing footfall into town, where every pavement-level business, including my own, could benefit. It was an out-and-out marketing initiative to promote Wilmslow and remind people what services and products the shops can offer, and the cars were used as the mechanism to achieve it. I am thrilled that this has gone from local, to regional, to national recognition."
Stuart McIntosh picked up the Exceptional Achievement award for volunteering to help those out of work with job seeking and the final award of the evening 'Our Wilmslow Award' went to Helen Yates of Incredible Edible for bringing businesses and the community together for Wilmslow in Bloom which has transformed the town centre for the past four years and won gold awards for the past two years.
The Young Hero category was especially difficult for the judges. Each of the young people who was nominated has an extraordinary story to tell from overcoming tremendous odds or illness to raising money for charity. They received a well-deserved huge round of applause when they were all invited up onto the stage.
Catherine Mackenzie, Chairman of Wilmslow Business Group said, "This has been such a lovely evening, with a great atmosphere. It's been a pleasure to be involved in and although judging the winners was incredibly difficult we hope that everyone who has been nominated and shortlisted feels great pride in their achievements."
"The Community Awards evening organised so excellently by the Wilmslow Business Group was a heart warming event. It was great to celebrate and recognise so many outstanding people in our community. There was a common theme of "unsung hero" with nominees and winners contributing to the community in a humble way without publicity or public recognition.
Councillor Keith Purdom, Chairman of Wilmslow Town Council, said "I was very impressed with all the nominees in the Neighbour of the Year category and Betty Wood was a deserved winner for her many community spirited acts of help.
"The nominees for teacher of the year mainly from their students reminded us of the inspirational role of our teachers and the nominees for Young Hero highlighted some amazing young people not only overcoming difficulties in their own lives but fund raising amazing amounts of money for others
"Congratulations to all at the Wilmslow Business Group who made this such a special evening."
Mark Vincent, Assistant Headteacher at Wilmslow High School, said "Listening to the nominees' achievements and contributions made me feel very proud to be part of the Wilmslow community. This excellent event really highlighted the huge number of young people, adults, groups and businesses who are determined to make a difference, in their own unique way."