Dedicated volunteers in Banbury recognised at awards evening

The first Cherwell Community Awards by Sanctuary Housing were held at The Great Barn in Aynho on Wednesday. NNL-150626-171630001
The first Cherwell Community Awards by Sanctuary Housing were held at The Great Barn in Aynho on Wednesday. NNL-150626-171630001

The first ever Cherwell Community Awards by Sanctuary Housing saw seven dedicated individuals and organisations rewarded for their efforts.

Hosted by Banbury Sound’s Kirsty Leahy, the event was held at the Great Barn in Aynho on Wednesday and had a midsummer theme.

It recognised some of the devoted volunteers and organisations who make a real difference to the neighbourhood.

Nominations opened in April with the community invited to put individuals and groups in seven categories, including Lifetime Achievement, Green Fingers, Sports Personality, Young Achievers, Volunteer of the Year, Partnership and Most Innovative Community Project.

Graham Nolan, head of neighbourhood partnerships for Sanctuary Housing, said: “We are delighted with the success of these awards which recognise the importance of local people and groups who devote so much of their time to making their neighbourhood a great place.

“All of the winners should be proud of their achievements and I am sure these devoted volunteers and organisations will continue to put Cherwell on the map.”

Among the winners was Billy Foster in the Young Achievers category. He impressed judges with his commitment to volunteering and organising events at the Banbury Foyer, as well as fundraising for Deddington-based charity The Nicodemus Trust, who help support young people in Guatemala and the UK.

He has recently organised and completed a cycle challenge for the charity, in which volunteers cycled more than 6,000 miles around Northamptonshire and raised £7,500 for the charity.

He said: “I never thought I would receive this award, now we must help others like me.”

Debbie Welford, Nicodemus Trust trustee, accompanied Billy to the awards with his mentor Paul Warman. Mrs Welford said: “It was incredible to see Billy’s face when his name was announced. He could not believe that he heard his name.

“This is typical of Billy’s attitude as he has a big heart for others!”

Other winners included the Banbury Community Action Group (CAG) winning the Greenfingers Award, the OYAP Trust scooping the Most Innovative Community Project Award and The Hill Community Centre on Bretch Hill won the Partnership Award.

Dave Earle of Spit n Sawdust Gym on North Bar won Sports Personality of the Year and Kirsty Evans of the OYAP Trust won the Volunteer of the Year.

The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Gareth Jeremy of the Rotary Club of Banbury, in recognition of his work on Banbury’s Young Musician of the Year competition, which has being going since 1991 and held its 25th anniversary concert last week.

A raffle on the night also raised more than £100 for Katharine House Hospice.