Awards celebrate inspirational Cherwell volunteers
The Cherwell ‘Love Where You Live’ Volunteer Awards, organised by Sanctuary Housing and Cherwell District Council, recognise the hard work and dedication of groups and individuals who go the extra mile for the benefit of others.
The ceremony, which was held in the council chamber at Bodicote House, saw winners named in five categories: Volunteer of the Year, Young Volunteer of the Year, Voluntary Organisation of the Year, Lifetime Volunteer and Good Neighbour.
The Volunteer of the Year award was presented to Donna Crowther for her tireless work at The Hill Community Centre in Banbury, where she plays a vital role supporting staff, young people and their families.
The Voluntary Organisation of the Year title went to The Women’s Support Group, which provides a safe environment to share concerns and positive support from peers to help with life’s problems.
Young Volunteer of the Year was awarded to Morgan Leonard for her efforts at the Hill Centre, where she mentors other young people and provides valuable support to staff.
Three winners were named in the Good Neighbour category: Andy Ward, a volunteer key holder for the Banbury Young Homelessness Project (BYHP), Lacey Leonard, who volunteers at The Hill and is described as 'not just a neighbour but a friend and good listener' and Kate Drummond, who volunteers with Cornhill Companions and the Cornhill Centre Kitchen and is described as 'a neighbour to all.'
The Good Neighbour award winners each received a £30 Love2Shop voucher, while other category winners were presented with £100 to donate to a local community group of their choice.
The Lifetime Volunteer Award was presented to Cicely Lewis, in recognition of her dedication and commitment to Grimsbury Community Centre, where she is a 'leading light' in supporting projects and ensuring a facility fit for community use.
All finalists also received wooden trophies made by local charity Restore as a memento of the night and their achievements.
Sanctuary’s neighbourhood partnerships manager, Charlie Heritage, said: “We received some fantastic nominations for the awards this year and it is clear that the community spirit is alive and well in Cherwell.
“Volunteers play a vital role in our local communities and it was a privilege to celebrate their achievements and hear so many wonderful stories.”
Nicola Riley, Cherwell District Council’s assistant director for wellbeing, added: “Strong neighbourhoods and resilient communities are key to residents’ quality of life.
“Volunteering is a cornerstone of this and recognising the impact that some volunteers achieve is immensely important. Congratulations to all the nominees and our thanks too.”
This project was part-funded by Sanctuary’s Community Investment Fund, supporting projects which benefit Sanctuary residents and their communities.
Award winners are:
Volunteer of the Year: Winner – Donna Crowther. Runners-up – Julie Wood; Michel Ware.
Young Volunteer of the Year: Winner – Morgan Leonard. Runners-up – Iga Kazmierczak; Noah Cathey; Poppy Mason
Voluntary Organisation of the Year: Winner – The Women’s Support Group. Runners-up – Grassroots Bicester; Homestart Banbury, Bicester and Chipping Norton
Lifetime Volunteer: Winner – Cicely Lewis. Runners-up – Bea Foster; David Hedderley.
Good Neighbour: Winners – Andy Ward; Lacey Leonard; Kate Drummond.