Community Heroes winners announced

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A couple who’ve raised more than £800,000 to support ex-servicemen and women have been honoured for their heroics.

Colin and Margaret Wadsworth are two of the driving forces behind Carlisle’s hugely successful contributions to the annual Poppy Appeal.

Over the past decade, they have devoted vast amounts of time to support the work of the Royal British Legion, a cause close to their hearts with Colin having served for 15 years in the Army.

Their mission to help others was recognised as the Carlisle couple were named People Of The Year At The Cumberland News Community Heroes Awards.

Their award was one of the highlights of an emotional evening that saw heroics in all of their forms recognised – from those who have gone to amazing lengths to support loved ones to others who have inspired many with their courage.

The awards, held in association with partners United Utilities and sponsored by the University of Cumbria, were presented at Carlisle Racecourse.

Welcoming guests, Chris Story, associate editor of The Cumberland News, said: “There are so many people who generously give of their time and energy in so many different ways to make life better for those around them.

“We want to say a big thank you to all those who’ve done something special to help someone else in their community.”

The Wadsworths’ fundraising has seen them raise £812,700 for the Poppy Appeal.

Hailing their work, their awards nomination stated: “Year after year, this dedicated couple have exceeded expectations.

“They put the ‘great’ in the Great Border City. They do a tremendous job.

“Despite various health problems that they have both had to cope with, they have still pursued their goal of achieving more than £100,000 a year.”

Also recognised for their inspiration was former Carlisle United player Tony Hopper.

He was presented with a judges special award in recognition of the bravery shown by him and his family – and determination to help others – by going public with his diagnosis of motor neurone disease.

That courage saw him applauded by thousands during emotional appearances at Brunton Park, triggering a huge effort to support the Motor Neurone Disease Association.

Guests heard: “There is no word other than hero which can be used to describe Tony Hopper.

“His bravery and openness has proven inspirational.”

Another fundraiser was also recognised for his determination.

Inspired by care given to his father while he had cancer, Stephen “Docker” Reid, of Penrith, has become determined to help as many causes as possible.

In the past decade he’s helped a host of charities, from Macmillan Cancer Care to Eden Valley Hospice and Help for Heroes – all organisations that have links to his friends and family in the Penrith area, making his endeavours a real personal mission.

He has raised nearly £60,000, work that was recognised with the CN special charity champion award.

Another fundraiser, 72-year-old Carlisle man Rod Bell, was presented with the unsung hero work for his work to raise £12,000 for the Great North Air Ambulance Service.

He has supported the cause, which runs the Langwathby-based Pride of Cumbria helicopter, after its crew saved his life after he went into cardiac arrest while being airlifted from the city to Newcastle.

Sixty years of dedication to the North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust, in its various guises, saw Olive Blakeley presented with the volunteer of the year award.

She has been a pioneer, helping established the much-valued chaplaincy service at the then Carlisle Hospital before such services were fixtures.

Recently retired from her volunteering role, Olive is described as always being there with a friendly smile and always having time for people.

Her work was so appreciated that she would often be asked by grateful families to take the funeral of a loved one who had passed away. She has had many grateful families – years later – continue to thank her for the support she gave at their most desperate time.

The carer of the year award was presented to Carlisle man Clive Moore.

He showed tireless dedication to his wife for seven years after her diagnosis with motor neurone disease.

Their wish was for her to be cared at home and to pass away there.

Thanks to Clive’s devotion, that was possible.

He made it his mission to provide the best quality of care for her despite continual obstacles and his own diagnosis of aggressive prostrate cancer last year – coming up with innovative ways that allowed his wife to communicate and stay mobile for as long as she possibly could.

A woman described as “an angel” was named as good neighbour.

Joyce Pink, 68, of Carlisle, spends her days looking after vulnerable people living around her – a job she’s been doing since moving there 16 years ago.

Neighbours have spoken of the contribution she makes and said in a nomination: “She takes her everyone in her cul-de-sac under her wing.”

Helping others saw Lynne Vincent presented with the good friend award.

Judges were told that every spare minute Lynne has is spent helping others, never asking for anything in return.

As well as organising outings for large groups of friends and having family commitments, she always makes time to help those who need a helping hand.

Her nomination stated: “Lynne is one of the kindest, most considerate people I know. She never complains, even though she’s not in the best of health herself.”

A teenager who has shown tremendous maturity in becoming a voice for Carlisle was rewarded with the young achiever accolade.

Jazmine Jordan, 15, spoke in London’s Guild Hall about the work of Carlisle Youth Zone and how it and the city had been affected by the floods of 2015.

Speaking in front of 400 people, her moving testimony was part of an impressive campaign which helped raise £30m for the charity Onside which is helping build other such centres across the country.

A reward recognising someone who does all they can to promote the traditions and values of Cumbria went to one of the best-known figures on the county’s show scene.

Gillian Potts is one of the key figures in organising the Cumberland Show as its operations and development secretary.

But her involvement with countryside groups and championing our traditions doesn’t stop there. She supports a string of other shows, is an enthusiastic supporter of the Young Farmers’ movement and has helped charities.

Meanwhile, a man who has opened opportunities for the disabled was named sporting hero.

Ray McBride is founder of Cumbria Wheelchair Sports Club.

He started that group after realising there was nowhere for his disabled grandson to become involved with sport.

Starting in Carlisle, this has expanded across the county – leading fundraising work to ensure this has happened.

Judges were told Ray hates to think of anyone with a disability who thinks they have to simply sit at home. He is hugely passionate about the sport and the chances it can give – “a true example of a selfless community hero,” his nomination says.

The team behind the Hallbankgate Hub landed the award for best community project.

They responded to the threat of closure of their village shop by establishing the community benefit society which bought the former Co-op building and not only reopened it as a shop but added a cafe and community space to it.

The school worker of the year award went to Upperby Primary School teacher Matt Walker.

He is a key figure in the Bright Stars project to help children get real-life business experiences.

When the Michael Johnsone, the teenage son of a colleague, lost his leg in a car accident, Matt took an idea to the children that they should use their business skills to help the young man buy a higher-standard prosthetic limb.

This group of eight-year-olds raised £1,000 for the cause.

2017 Winners

PERSON OF THE YEAR: Margaret and Colin Wadsworth

JUDGES' SPECIAL AWARD: Tony Hopper

CN SPECIAL CHARITY CHAMPION AWARD: Docker Reid

CARER OF THE YEAR: Clive Moore

GOOD NEIGHBOUR: Joyce Pink

GOOD FRIEND: Lynne Vincent

YOUNG ACHIEVER: Jazmine Jordan

#PROUDCUMBRIA: Gillian Potts

SPORTING HERO: Ray McBride

BEST COMMUNITY PROJECT: Hallbankgate Hub

UNSUNG HERO: Rod Bell

VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR: Olive Blakeley

SCHOOL WORKER OF THE YEAR: Matt Walker

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