Ten residents and a cancer charity have been selected as this year's winners of Northampton’s 2018 Heart of the Community Awards, after being shortlisted from a huge 34 nominations.
The awards, held at the Guildhall on Monday night, celebrated community spirit and recognised neighbourhood achievement in this town - giving thanks to the heroes next door who work hard to help others.
The winners included The Lewis Foundation, Graham Croucher, Inderjit Jutla, James Richardson, Jane Langer, John Griff, Nick Stephens, Paul Scully-Sloan, Peter Lindfield and Teresa McCarthy, who were each nominated for striving to help make their communities better places to live, work and visit.
This year, the judges decided to give an additional ‘rising star’ award to Thomas Wareing, who at just ten years old, is the youngest person ever nominated.
The panel of independent judges consisted of the Mayor and Mayoress, the Deputy Mayor and Mayoress, Father Oliver Coss, Rector of All Saints Church, and representatives from NN Live Community Radio and the Chronicle & Echo.
The winners were congratulated by the Mayor of Northampton, Councillor Gareth Eales at the ceremony where they were joined by friends, family and nominators to receive their certificates.
James manages and delivers weekly multi-sports sessions to young people as part of the Northampton Street Sports Programme, which provides young people at risk of committing anti-social behaviour or entering the criminal justice system with free opportunities to participate in structured activity. James participated in the project, then completed over 350 hours of voluntary work and gained a level 1 FA coaching qualification. He has a passion for coaching and a desire to help young people follow in his footsteps.
Peter is the longest serving volunteer at the Northampton Volunteer Car Scheme, having dedicated 20 years of his life to helping those in need in his local community. He supports elderly and disabled people in Northampton to get to their medical appointments and offers vital support to vulnerable adults who have no other means of transport. He is a friendly face and a listening ear.
The Lewis Foundation is a charity supporting cancer in patients receiving treatment at Northampton General Hospital. Lorraine and Lee Lewis of Upton (pictured) set up The Lewis Foundation in 2016 after Lee made regular visits to his mum at NGH who was receiving treatment for cancer. The pair had noticed how sad patients looked on the Talbot Butler ward and later launched The Lewis Foundation in a bid to cheer them up. The volunteers now give up their time to visit patients on the wards, have a chat and hand out free gift packs containing books, toiletries and sweets. They work hard to organise fundraising events and bring a smile to cancer patients faces.
Inderjit set up the Langar Seva in Northampton four years ago, bringing together members of the Sikh and other faith communities to feed homeless people in Abington Street each week. She also volunteers at the night shelter and the Hope Centre and is a member of the Northampton Interfaith Forum, to promote unity and understanding between faiths.
John has spent his life supporting the Northamptonshire community, tirelessly giving his time to help companies, community groups and charities in many ways. In the last 10 years John has been a presenter on BBC Radio Northampton hosting the Afternoon Show a program offering a voice to individuals with projects or causes and local community groups, enabling them to promote awareness of their support services, events, education and culture.
Paul has set up a Northampton based charity called Daddys with Angels, which provides support for fathers who have suffered the loss of a child, to make sure they are not alone in grieving. His motivation comes from his experience of grieving and the challenges he faced. Paul's ambitions come from a place of suffering and grief, however he is turning this into a positive message.
Nick formed the Buddies of Beckets group three years ago with just a few members. It now has almost 40 active members, who work very hard to improve the park environment, arranging litter picks, planting bulbs and new trees, cleaning signs and organising events. The group has improved the park for all and has promoted community cohesion by encouraging a variety of groups, charities, faiths and BME communities to attend events and help in the work the
Teresa has run the Swan and Helmet for the last 12 years, a friendly Irish pub loved by regular customers and newcomers. Teresa and her team put huge time and effort into raising awareness and funds for local causes, hosting regular gala dinners and quiz nights at the pub. They organise the Speedy Cup on the Racecourse each summer to raise money for Cynthia Spencer, and hosted Northamptons first ever St Patricks Day Street Festival to celebrate Irish culture.
Since taking the post of St James Library Manager, Jane has enriched the community so much through her sunny, caring nature and the enthusiasm with which she has organised so many things for the library, including rhyme time for toddlers and mummies, knit and natter groups, reading challenges, health walks, craft activities, a language cafe, after school activities and holiday events. She has also developed a beautiful garden in the library yard.
As chairman of the St James Residents Association, Graham works tirelessly for the residents of St James, tackling local issues and problems. He puts in an extraordinary amount of hours attending meetings with the Borough Council and also supports the Friends of the Library and Friends of Victoria Park groups. He wants to make the community a safer, nicer and brighter place to live.