Volunteers Cheered At Annual Awards Event

Hundreds of people turned out at the Grove Theatre in Dunstable on Tuesday evening to celebrate the inspiring achievements of Central Bedfordshire’s volunteers.

The occasion was the fourth Cheering Volunteering awards and celebration evening that the Central Bedfordshire Council has organised. The Council worked in partnership with the Volunteer Centres as part of Central Bedfordshire Together, and sponsored by Biffa, Pro Logis, Aragon, Jeakins Weir and Beds Fire and Rescue Service.

The winners and highly commended in each category were:

Young Volunteer of the Year: Winner – Grace Smart (fundraiser for Road Victims Trust, CHUMS and BRAKE); Highly commended – Amy Wiggett (Girl Guides) Josh Gale (Mental Health Ambassador)

Volunteer of the Year: Winner – Heidi Larvin (supporting adults with complex needs); Highly commended: Ann Adams (various volunteer roles); Andy Lewis (East Anglian Air Ambulance)

Volunteer Group of the Year: Friends of Houghton Hall Park; Highly Commended: Leighton Buzzard Children’s Theatre Youth Helpers. Highly Commended: Stotfold Good Neighbour Group.

Outstanding Contribution: Winner–Diane Barnes (Bedfordshire Suicide Bereavement Service, The Forum: Busy Getting Stronger). Highly Commended–Natalie Mathews, Thornhill Primary School governor; Nicola Kidby, Healthwatch Central Bedfordshire

Lifetime Achievement:  Winner–Sheila Bundock Stotfold Roecroft Centre, Town Councillor, School Governor. Highly Commended: Ken Lynch, Sandy community activist. Dorothy Kemp: Mental health supporter

Sports Volunteer of the Year: Winner: Anna Carter (Leighton Buzzard Hockey Club). Highly Commended: Adam Langford (Park run Houghton Hall). Highly Commended: David Brown (Biggleswade Athletics Club).

Panel’s Choice Award: Mike Dyer (Gutless weight loss coach). High Commended: Mary Morgan (Clifton Chronicles). Highly Commended: Incredible Edible Dunstable (community garden).

Entertainment came from a collaboration of Leighton Buzzard Children's Theatre and adult Advance Theatre group, Amazing Activity and Grove Education with the event being expertly compered this year by West End entertainer Aaron Spendelow.

‘Inspiring Volunteering’ small grants ranging from £100 to £1,000 were awarded to:

Autism Bedfordshire
Bedford & District Cerebral Palsy Society
Forest of Marston Vale
Friends of CHUMS
Stotfold Good Neighbour Group
Hospice at Home Volunteers
Wildlife Trust Youth Rangers
Shuttleworth Trust

Central Bedfordshire Council’s Chairman Councillor Fiona Chapman accompanied by Vice Chairman Cllr Brian Saunders, attended the evening in her ceremonial role.

She said: “What an honour to be part of this splendid and inspirational event!   I would like to congratulate not only the award winners and those who were highly commended in each category, but also all of the nominees and everyone who was involved in the evening.

“I am continually amazed by the enormous amount of effort our volunteers contribute to our daily lives.  Volunteers are indeed the life blood of our society so it was 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