BURNLEY, Pendle and Hyndburn’s “local heroes” were recognised at the annual 2BR Local Hero Awards at the Fencegate on Thursday.
The annual event to recognise the area’s caring, brave and selfless people of all ages was a glittering success in its new venue. 2BR’s managing director Simon Brierley welcomed guests before they were entertained by a rendition of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” by Burnley’s very own songbird Grace O’Malley who went on to win one of the evening’s awards.
This was followed by a three-course meal before the formal awards ceremony and entertainment by a Michael Buble tribute act.
Winners were nominated by 2BR listeners throughout August and September and the finalists were chosen by a panel including Simon Brierley who said: “We were inundated with so many worthy and heart-warming stories. Every year these awards remind me how many people here in East Lancashire are doing amazing things – I just wish I wasn’t one of the people with the hard job of deciding who wins!”
Winners in 11 different categories received awards from the sponsors and the gathering was shown a film outlining why each one had been nominated.
Then one overall winner – the Local Hero – was chosen from the 11 categories and no-one was more surprised than Burnley teenager Nathan Barrett when his name was called out and he took to the stage again to receive the award from Douglas Robinson, the managing director of the evening’s sponsors Transdev Mainline.
19-year-old Nathan, of Clevelands Road, was diagnosed with kidney failure in 2007 and had to live with daily dialysis and all its associated problems and ill health until in 2009 his mum donated one of her kidneys. Despite all the odds and many ongoing complications he completed his GCSEs at Blessed Trinity College, went on to sixth-form college and is now taking a degree course at UCLAN in Preston. He was nominated by his mum, Karin Lilley, who said her brave son had carried on despite many setbacks and suffering and was a real inspiration.
After receiving the Bravery Award sponsored by Veka and the Local Hero Of The Year Award sponsored by Transdev Mainline, Nathan said he was really shocked. “I didn’t think I would win this I think my mum should have won it,” he said.
• Charity Worker Of The Year – Grace O’Malley – Sponsored by Lloyd Colne BMW & Mini
TEENAGER Grace, who is just 13, has becme something of a local celebrity since first singing “Abide With Me” at Padiham’s Remembrance Day service when she was 10. She went on to switch on the town’s Christmas lights and is now a regular at Remembrance services and concerts as she sings to support the Royal British Legion, of which she is an honorary member, Help for Heroes, the North West Air Ambulance, the Tsunami Appeal and Pendleside Hospice for which she has recently released a CD.
She was nominated by former Padiham Mayoress Mrs Gill Pridden who described her as a “shining angel” with a wonderful singing voice who always wants to help others.
• Grandparent Of The Year – Vivien Smith – Sponsored by Specsavers Burnley, Nelson & Accrington
VIVIEN was nominated by Victoria Burbridge for the care and support she provides for her grandchildren and her 91-year-old mother. Vivien has helped look after grandsons Ashton and Casey, especially since their mother Victoria suffered from post-natal depression, and continues to help wherever she can. Victoria told the gathering “she is like a mum to me and I just couldn’t have coped without her.”
• Volunteer Of The Year – Esther Williams – Sponsored by Pendle Community Network
14-year-old Esther, who attends Park High School in Colne, was nominated by Elaine Whitehead for the volunteer work she does with the Inclusion Club at Pendle Leisure Centre, the Sports Development Summer School, plus the I.C.E. Club and netball club and Nelson Swimming Club! She does hundreds of hours of voluntary work and she said it takes up a lot of her time but she loves doing it. “It makes me happy doing what I’m doing, I don’t need an award,” she said.
• Neighbour Of The Year – Stanley Shaw – Sponsored by Calico
STANLEY was nominated by his neighbour Lynn Dawson who said he was “Admirable, inspirational, caring, kind, considerate and so much more” for all he does for the family next door. He’s the perfect neighbour, helping out with day to day chores, child and pet care, gardening all the time while dealing with a recent operation. She said: “If everybody looked out for everybody like Stanley does for us the world would be a better place. He is the inspiration for my children the way he just gets on with it and carries on despite everything he has been through.” Stanley, who is recovering from mouth cancer, said: “You have to have a good neighbour to be a good neighbour.”
• Carer Of The Year – Benjamin Brotherton – Sponsored by Hillendale Group
Ben was nominated by his uncle, William Buck, who suffered from a stroke and 10 years ago his diabetes led to him having his legs amputated. Ben became William’s daily carer, cooking for him, bathing him and doing virtually everything for him, plus visiting twice a day when he was in hospital. He has cared for his uncle for 10 years and said: “I do it because he’s my uncle and I want to do it for him, I don’t want him to be suffering.”
• Young Person Of The Year – Alex Halstead – Sponsored by Weston EU
TEENAGER Alex is a busy girl. At just 16, she volunteers for Pendle Sports Development and organised an event for them in the holidays right from gaining funding for it through to execution. She also volunteers for her local swimming club, teaches swimming and is a qualified lifeguard. She also coaches handball and is a football referee. Alex was nominated by her mum Carol Halstead who is proud of her daughter’s hard work and commitment in helping other young people get involved with and enjoy sport.
• Public Service Person Of The Year – Christopher Lovell – Sponsored by Walker Farrimond Citroen
CHRISTOPHER works for the North Lancs Training Group which supports young people with apprenticeships, jobs and training and he goes above and beyond in engaging young people, especially in sports such as snooker. He is involved the Paul Hunter Foundation which is there to help young people who live in disadvantaged areas. Christopher, who was nominated by Paul Rinaldi, said: “Young people get a raw deal, they just need something to do. By bringing people together we can do things differently.”
• Heart Of Gold – Jane Dawson – Sponsored by Coach Hire Booking
JANE organises and runs a group for children of all ages with little or no eyesight, while caring for her own child who is also visually impaired. Jane was nominated by Vikki Williamson whose daughter was born with only one eye and described how it was such a shock at first but thanks to the help and support given by Jane she was able to cope. She said Jane runs the group, organises trips and is “caring, brave and hardworking, she never stops doing things for everybody else.”
• Teacher Of The Year – Andrew Blackburn – Sponsored by ASDA Accrington
ANDREW was nominated for the work he does at Pendle Vale College both in school and with numerous extra-curricular activities. He was nominated by pupil Jack Gribble who said Mr Blackburn had helped him and others enjoy sport and school generally. Receiving the award he said he was shocked, stunned and eventually pleased to be nominated and really happy to have won. “I just want children to enjoy school. We play football after school and it ends up being three hours instead of one because the kids are enjoying it,” he said.
• Child Of Courage – Charley Jo Kibble – Sponsored by Charter Walk Shopping Centre
CHARLEY was a healthy six year old until eight months ago when all her hair fell out and she was diagnosed with alopecia. She has dealt with this trauma really well and even started fund-raising for the Princess Trust who provide wigs for children with hair loss. She was nominated by her aunt, Hannah Kibble, who said Charley had been really brave even fund-raising and trying to raise awareness about the condition. “When little girls want to look like princesses it is hard when you lose all your hair and have to put up with the looks you get, but she has been wonderful,” said Hannah.
• Bravery Award – Nathan Barrett – Sponsored by VEKA
19-year-old Nathan was diagnosed with end stage renal failure in 2007. Despite facing daily dialysis and eventually a kidney transplant he has completed his GCSEs, college and has now started university. He was nominated by his mum Karin Lilley.
• Local Hero Of The Year – Nathan Barrett – Sponsored by Transdev Mainline.