Pendley Manor was swollen with Pride at the inaugural Pride in Dacorum awards.
Hundreds of people turned up to the beautiful hotel complex in Tring to see their friends, family and colleagues recognised for the valuable work they do in the community.
The awards, organised by Premier Newspapers, publishers of the Gazette and the Herald Express, were created to give us – and you – the opportunity to recognise those people who work so hard to help others and to shout about their achievements.
For the last few months we have been asking you to nominate those you felt deserved recognition. A winner in each category was then picked by the judges, along with a People’s Choice award voted for by you. Those lucky winners received their awards at Thursday night’s glittering ceremony.
Actor Ricky Groves, better known as Gary Hobbs from BBC soap EastEnders, was the compere for the evening.
He said: “I think we have proved that here in Dacorum there is a great deal to be proud of and I would like to add my congratulations to all the people who were nominated for an award.
“I would also like to thank everyone for their hard work and dedication in making their part of Dacorum extra special.
Andrew Williams, the leader of Dacorum Borough Council, added: “What we have always known is we have an awful lot to be proud of in Dacorum and the council is very grateful for all the work people do,
“The effort people put in is the envy of many places and your contribition is extremely valuable.”
And Gazette deputy editor Wes Smith said: “What a fantastic evening. Dacorum really does have an awful lot to be proud about – congratulations to everyone involved.”
The winners were:
Bravery Award, sponsored by Elegant Car Hire and Phoenix Office Solutions: Dave Stokes
Dave has served with the Fire Service for 40 years, during which time he has been part of teams that have rescued people from many types of fires and road traffic accidents.
He has had to counsel traumatised crews while dealing with the outcomes of those incidents himself.
His determination and commitment to reducing deaths and injuries by fire and road traffic deaths in Dacorum has been inspired by the deaths of two young colleagues who were killed in action in a high rise building, and the loss of his best friend after a road traffic incident.
Dave’s work in Dacorum has undoubtedly saved lives and his bravery is within his determination, passion and expectation to make the community of Dacorum safer.
Care in the Community award, sponsored by Murdock Care Services: Hemel Hempstead Child Care Centre
The Child Contact Centre is an independent, voluntary organisation that on two Saturdays a month provides a safe and happy place for children from separated families to be able to meet with parents they are not living with or other relatives in a relaxed, friendly atmosphere on neutral ground.
There are at least four, and usually five volunteers on hand to help at all times. The centre eases the problems of contact for families in the Hemel Hempstead area.
Excellence in Education, sponsored by Tesco Tring: Broadfield Primary School
The education experience that the headteacher Matthew Heasman and his staff provide for the children at Broadfield Primary School is complete. Their teaching and guidance are not one dimensional but prepare them to live their lives to the full.
Mr Heasman always goes the extra mile – he is very motivated and committed to doing a good job to the best of his ability, and his rapport with parents and children is superb.
He and all the staff appear unified in deciding what is best for the school community. Parents whose children attend Broadfield Primary School are extremely pleased with the educational and community experience they are receiving. Their children’s lives are greatly enriched and they will have happy memories of the school.
Friendly Neighbour Award, sponsored by London Luton Airport: Joan Knight
Last February, Carol Marmion fell and broke her ankle. Joan Knight popped in to see Carol and was distressed and appalled to find that she had been discharged from hospital without any aftercare or home aids.
Carol lives alone and has no family living locally so Joan took charge of the situation and cared for her throughout the night.
During the following weeks, Joan visited every day to see how Carol was, cooked her meals and helped with household tasks.
Joan leads a very busy life as a mum and grandma, so for her to find the time to help has been amazing.
She has a heart of gold and would do the same for anyone in the same desperate position. She is one of those dependable people who will always help others if she can.
Fundraiser of the Year award, sponsored by Asda Hemel Hempstead: Peter Churchill
Peter has volunteered for Hope For Children for several years, helping with administration and fundraising.
He has taken particular interest in extending their collecting cans across the area, managing the whole process, which requires hours of walking and talking!
In the past year he has raised a record amount – over £5,000 – which will be used for local children.
Raising the Profile of Dacorum award, sponsored by Dacorum Borough Council: Maylands Partnership
The Maylands Partnership is a group of local businesses employing thousands of people between them.
As well as running successful businesses, they give time to support the partnership that drives the Maylands business area, ensuring that there are jobs in the borough now and in the future.
Representatives of the partnership attend and speak at many events to raise the profile of business in the area and to let other business people know why they base their businesses in Hemel Hempstead, raising the profile of the area and attracting further investment from the business community. They truly are great champions and advocates of Dacorum.
Service with a Smile Award, sponsored by Specsavers: Discount Tyres And Exhausts
Discount Tyres and Exhausts offer a comprehensive range of car tyre brands to suit every pocket, backed up by the best trained technicians and the most up-to-date equipment.
They offer a first class service and customers never feel taken advantage of. The staff are always smiling, helpful and honest and have great expertise in their business and products and when you are there you feel as though you are the most important visitor on their premises. They really do offer a fabulous service with a smile!
Unsung Hero award, sponsored by Beard Brothers: Mildred Lowe
Mrs Lowe, 73, works as a volunteer for Age UK Dacorum, helping at three of their daycare centres in various parts of Hemel Hempstead.
She starts at about 8am and works non-stop until 2.30pm, greeting clients, helping them off the coach, making tea and serving too. She serves lunch, washes up, joins in card games and bingo and helps the team to enjoy themselves.
She is never late, never ill and never complains.
On Wednesday afternoons she acts as an Age UK befriender, calling on lonely old people to talk and keep them company and sort out any problems they might have. A real unsung hero of the community!
Young Achiever award, sponsored by West Herts College: Charlie Bicknell
Between the ages of 13 and 17, Charlie was a very different person to the young man he is now. He was not motivated by anything, and his demeanour and attitude towards life was negative.
Within a few weeks of dropping out of school, Charlie made a decision that changed everything, and went to South Africa to work at a children’s orphanage.
He then spent a year in Cheltenham helping in a youth and community team; then supported local charity PACT at a summer camp where he went to help as a junior leader.
Buoyed by his experiences he then spent a year at Bethel Bible School in California, before returning to another PACT camp – but not before taking on and conquering Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.
He has taken on the Ironman challenge, and cycled from John O’Groats to Lands End in nine days.
In just over two years, he has gone through an amazing transformation. He is now focused, disciplined and strives for excellence in everything he does.
The People’s Choice Award, sponsored by Virgin Holidays: Jackie Jackson
Jackie Jackson is stepping down from her position at Boxmoor School after nearly 23 years’ service.
In 1990, the girls’ netball training, cycling proficiency and annual school field trip were due to be cut. Jackie did not want the students to miss out on these opportunities so became the netball coach, did the necessary training to be able to teach cycling proficiency, and had students camp in a back garden to make up for not being able to go on a school field trip. And she has continued to do this ever since!
She has produced several league-winning teams, become the secretary for the Dacorum Primary and Middle Schools Netball League and has organised numerous competitions and tournaments for the children of Dacorum.
Also during this time, she has worked for Dacorum Borough Council as a 50+ instructor. Jackie truly deserves this award for all her hard work and commitment in Dacorum and winning the public vote shows just how much everybody appreciates her!