An emotional evening of heartwarming stories and inspiring tales was a recipe for success at the annual Bedfordshire Pride awards on Thursday.
Throughout the evening, organised by Premier Newspapers, invited guests and nominees heard about the people who made a real difference to their community.
First up was Care in the Community, sponsored by the Harpur Trust, which recognises the individuals who have shown incredible patience and understanding, often for many years, caring and supporting a local stranger in need, friend or loved one.
Highly commended was Careline Charity and the winner was Jade Haggerwood for her many years of voluntary work for the young and eldely in Clapham.
Service with a smile, sponsored by Costa, Highly commended was Bethany Pestell and Mahmoud Mehdizadeb of the Chiff Chaff Cafe and the winner was Goldington Day Care Centre, where workers were described as going that extra 10 miles to provide a personal service.
Friendly Neighbour of the Year, sponsored by Eagle Ale. Highly commended was Leanne Judd and the winner was Diane Sharp who makes dinners for the elderly in Flitwick, and much more.
Young Achiever of the year, sponsored by The Harpur Trust. Highly commended were Tommy Fisher and Damian Czwerwiak and the winners were Muhammed Adam and Devado Anderson from Luton, who helped fund and set up a football camp for youngsters who could not afford the fees for other football clubs.
Volunteer of the year, sponsored by BPHA Limited. Highly commended was Hopsice at Home and the winner was Sarah Broughton who helps run the Bedford Foodbank.
Excellence in Education sponsored by the University of Bedfordshire. Highly commended was The Elizabeth Curtis Centre riding for the disabled and the winner was The Mark Rutherford school which has been running a highly successful school Business Group since 2011.
Raising the Profile of the Town sponsored by Nisa Local. Highly commended was Golden Gardens and the winner was Richard Harpham and the Bedford Canoe Trial. The nomination said that Richard Harpham and his team live and breath promoting their love for “Bedford”. From the famous Bedford Canoe Trail, kayaking lessons and festivals up and down the River Ouse to his educational programme.
Fundraiser of the Year sponsored by Mayfair financial services. Highly commended is Mark Smith and winner is Mark Butcher, who has been fundraising for research into a rare form of gynaecological cancer, which killed his youngster sister Anglea at the age of 30.
Unsung hero of the year, sponsored by Keens Shay Keens. Highly commended were Michael O’Mahoney and Brenda Farrow.
The winner was Richard Spencer who sustained a spinal cord injury after breaking his neck in a car crash when driving home after work at Christmas time over 30 years ago causing him to be paralysed from the chest down with limited hand function.
After meeting a representative from Back Up at Stoke Mandeville Spinal Injuries Centre in 2009 he heard about the services on offer from Back Up and started to volunteer providing support for people who had just had an injury and were now facing the prospect of living a life with paralysis.
The People’s Choice award, sponsored by Stanair International. This award is to celebrate all of the night’s achievers and was open to the general public of Bedfordshire to vote for. The winner was Mohammed Nadeem.
Nadeem understands that the tensions in Luton between the various communities were a direct consequence of a lack of understanding and cohesion. He was of the opinion that diversity should be celebrated and that by having an online channel highlighting this diversity, communities would be able to come together to view the outstanding achievements of their people.
As such, Living Luton TV became more than just a vision. It was a community effort involving individuals and professionals from all walks of life.
Local charities and organisations were additionally informed of Living Luton TV – a channel that would provide them with a platform to feature their services and their commitment to enhancing and improving the lives of local residents.
Headline sponsor of the Pride awards, held at the Bedford Corn Exchange, were The Harpur Trust, in association with Costa.
Category sponsors were BPHA Limited, Keens Shay Keens, Mayfair Financial, Insurance and Mortgage Consultants, Nisa Local, Stanair, University of Bedfordshire and Eagle Ale of Charles Wells Brewery. Host for the evening was Jon Moses , of ITV’s Superstar fame.
The full list of finalists were:
Caraline Charity, FACES Bedford Volunteers, Jade Haggerwood, Luton Foodbank.
Bethany Pestell and Mahmoud Mehdizadeh, Chiff-Chaff Café, Bluebird Care,Goldington Day Care Centre. Rob Hedges, Jim Robinson,Diane Sharp,Nicola Beddall,Leanne Judd,Charles-Hargreave-Mawson,Lorna Scott.
Muhammed Adam and Devado Anderson, Tommy Fisher and Damian Czwerwiak, Sarah Broughton, Tariq Khan, Bedford ParkRun,Hospice at Home volunteers.
Maria Riley - The Haven 2000, The Elisabeth Curtis Centre, Hafizul Rahman, Mark Rutherford School, Bedford Canoe Trail, Lucy Nicholls, Jane Harvey, Golden Gardens, Mark Smith, Mohammed Nadeem, Mark Butcher.
SS Philip and James Golf Society, Michael O’Mahoney.
Richard Spencer, Brenda Farrow, Lance Haggith.