Community Champions

We have recently hosted three Gala Awards across the North East and Cumbria where we celebrated local community champions.

Around 500 guests attended the three ceremonies in total, including a range of staff from within the Society. The awards were designed five years ago to recognise the invaluable contributions that local people and groups make across these regions.

There are four main award categories: Volunteer of the Year, Young Persons, the Sir Bobby Robson Community Group and Role Model.

A Volunteer Of The Year Award winner was Pauline Thompson from Ashington, who set up the Alligator Klub in Northumberland five years ago to help support local adults with learning difficulties, and to allow them to socialise and make new friends in a safe atmosphere.

Meanwhile, a winner of the Young Person’s award was 11 year-old Leia Ransley from Carlisle, for her tireless fundraising work for both her school charity and the Eden Valley Hospice, which she started following the death of her father while she was still at primary school.

Leia spends her time organising events, such as raffles and cakes sales to raise money for the charities, and also enjoys speaking in public to help raise awareness of their work.

The Yatton House Society from Great Ayton near Stokesley was a winner of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation Community Group Award, for their work in developing adults with learning and/or physical disabilities by initiating and organising activities that are aimed at maximising each individual's potential.

People from across Teesside and North Yorkshire can access Yatton House's day services, which range from cookery, gardening and life skills through to photography, health & fitness and art.

The Role Model Award went to Loran Huddart from Penrith, who, despite having cerebral palsy and university studies to complete, has undertaken a six week volunteering expedition to help disadvantaged children in India.

Described as 'amazing', 'an inspiration' and 'a great friend' in her nominations, Loran is also now looking to commence another voluntary placement with disabled children in the area.

The Awards are part of the Newcastle’s ongoing Cornerstone Of The Community campaign which enables individual branches to provide support to good causes in their local areas in a variety of ways, from carrying out fundraising activities and holding in-branch events to donating time from the working week to help them out.

Images left to right: Leia Ransley with John Halpin - Head of Carlisle Community Sports Trust; Loran Huddert with the Mayor of Carlisle; Pauline Thompson with Andrew Haigh.