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The Our Heroes awards were set up building on the success of our popular Acis in Bloom competition.
We work in great areas, serving fantastic communities with brilliant people. And we want to celebrate it so we widened the scope of the awards to recognise those people making a difference in their local areas.
This year, we have three awards – and prizes – up for grabs for our heroes:
Garden Guru Award
This award is for those in our communities who take pride in their gardens and create beautiful or even quirky landscapes.
Wonderful Neighbour/Neighbourhood of the Year
We work in some fantastic areas where some wonderful people live. We hear stories all the time about people going above and beyond for their neighbours or neighbourhoods so we set up this award to recognise that.
Young Person/People of the Year Award
In the areas we work in, we have a lot of brilliant young people (aged 24 or under) achieving great things. There are some extraordinary things going on that deserve recognition.
You can read about each shortlistee and why they were nominated below.
Well Women Group - Gainsborough
A group of women from Gainsborough are supporting each other to lead healthier lives.
The Gainsborough Well Women Group tackle weight issues, share problems, reduces isolation and generally lead better lives. Meeting once a week, they cover all aspects of health and wellbeing and their work is spreading through the Gainsborough community.
Group coordinator Kirsty Mathers said: “We started off with a coffee morning every Friday and I noticed there were a lot of health problems with the people that were attending. The ladies were thriving from the coffee morning – ladies were coming that wouldn’t normally leave the house. So we set up the Well Woman group.
“Every Tuesday morning, around 9am-11.30am, we cover all areas of health and wellbeing. We try to help them and their families. We’ve got one lady who’s lost about six stone and that’s followed through to her whole family – the children are trampolining, there’s healthy food in the house and her general health has improved.
“We just look at all areas of their health. We talk about things like cancer and things that women struggle to talk about. As a group, we talk about all these issues and get professionals in to help.
“But it’s also about feeling good about ourselves. We have hairdressers, nail technicians and beauticians in, we go to nice restaurants now and again and just about empowering them.”
The group is also proving to be successful in raising money for cancer charities, undertaking challenging tasks for sponsorship money. Their next aim is to complete the Three Peaks challenge.
Kirsty added: “The group were really happy and excited when they found out they’d been shortlisted.
“The help they give each other is unbelievable. The ladies are really supportive of one another and are so deserving of a nomination. The group comes together once a week but really, we’re there for each other all the time.
Group member Amanda Blakey said: “I come every week, really to help me lose weight. I’ve made a lot of new friends as well.
“The ladies in the group are absolutely supportive. We run a chat as well, so if we have any problems we just put a message on there and there’s always someone on there able to chat to us.
“I was shocked that we were nominated but Kirsty is amazing.”
Click the image below to hear more from Kirsty and the group and find out a bit more about why they were nominated
Neil Haddock - Bardney
Handyman Neil Haddock only recently moved to Bardney but has made such an impression on his neighbours that they nominated him for this award.
Neil, 51, gives his free time to helping out anyone in the local community including painting and decorating, fitting appliances and grounds maintenance – all to make the village look better. He also became a trustee for Bardney Gateway Centre.
Neil said: “People do things for others all the time but it’s nice to be recognised.
“I’m a bit old-fashioned. I can do most things, but as I get older I don’t advertise it as much. I enjoy it. I just try to put a smile on everyone’s face. It’s nice to put something back in.”
Neil was nominated by his local community. Neighbour Brian Wilkins said: “Neil really undersells himself with what he does. The work he has done has really helped me out. Most of the people he helps are old or disabled – even things like mowing the lawn if they’re struggling. It might not sound a lot but it makes a real difference.
“I’m very pleased to have met Neil. His work for the local community deserves to be recognised.”
See and hear more from Neil and Brian by clicking the image below.
Betty Smart is a tenant of Park House sheltered scheme in Welton and is renowned for her caring nature.
94-year-old Betty, a former member of the Women's Royal Naval Service, makes it her duty to make sure herself and the other tenants in Park House are as comfortable as possible.
She said: "I've always been like that. I think we should all just help each other.
"I'm currently training Jenny [another tenant] to help out too as I won't be able to do it forever.
"They're a good lot who live here so it's always nice to help out.
"I was surprised to hear I'd ben nominated but it was a nice surprise."
Betty was nominated by a few people from Acis, including our Estate Officer, Kerry Stocks.
Of the nomination, Kerry said: "The tenants always come to Betty if they have any questions or need something doing.
"She will always try and help get things sorted.
"If there's any repairs, she's on hand to help people report them and also help our repairs team to get into the building when needed. She's a valuable asset to us and this community and deserves recognition."
Jane Wilson is a local hero to many in the Woodthorpe area of Sheffield thanks to her tireless work in the community.
Jane's commitment to the Woodthorpe area has be a constant since she was 16 years old and her passion for helping people is stil strong to this day.
One of the schemes she runs at the minute is a luncheon club at the Tenants and Residents Associaton building on a Thursday.
Of her community work, Jane said: "It goes back a long time to when I was 16 helping in a local junior club and up until a few years ago I was a youth worker in the area.
"Unfortunately, I lost my job due to some cutbacks but whilst that was happening I was asked to come along and take the role of Chair at the local Tenants and Residents Association (TARA).
"I was happy to get involved because I also wanted to continue to put back into the community whether that be paid or unpaid.
"We saw there was a need for a luncheon club as there's a lot of elderly residents around here so we set this up and it just became more and more popular."
Her work doesn't just stop at the elderly generation as Jane has recently returned to supporting the youth of the area with some go-kart building workshops.
She added: "There's very little in terms of youth provisions around the area so we took it upon ourselves to get some groups together and give them something to do.
"We managed to get a small bit of funding from the local Ward pot and we're getting the kids to go back to basics and building old fashions go-karts.
"They're getting to learn how to use tools and new skills along the way."
Jane's work doesn't go unnoticed in the area and it is very much appreciated by the local residents, including local councillors.
Councillor Peter Rippon said of Jane: "It's fantastic what she's done here over the past few years. There's a group of people who help but Jane does lead it all. She's been brilliant.
"She's really got the community involved and together which it wasn't before. She deserves recognition, not that she will accept it. She's in it because she cares for the community not for awards."
Dale View - Caistor
Green-fingered residents have brightened up one of our sheltered accommodation schemes in Market Rasen.
The residents of Dale View have worked together and given their time and attention to the outside area of their flats.
They have created and maintained a fantastic flower patch featuring a mixture of flowers such as fuchsias, lilies and pansies, with many hanging baskets also adorning the walls to create a colourful masterpiece. They also grow fruit and vegetables like strawberries, runner beans and peas.
One of the residents, Mr Spencer, said: “I had a static caravan with lots of potted plants around it so when I moved here, and with us having quite a dark area, I decided it’d be a good idea to plant them and it started from there.
“It went from strength to strength. We really enjoy it. It’s nice to look out on it, instead of a brick wall. The compliments we have had have been great. One lady likes to come out and just look it the area and see all the birds that come.”
Click the image below to find hear more from Mr Spencer about his great work!
Mr Middleton - Caistor
A fantastic garden with an amazing amount of effort put into the upkeep, Mr Middleton of Caistor is a very worthy nominee for this award. He has built his own flower display boxes in different shapes and has some fantastic hanging baskets that make the garden look vibrant and alive. This garden is formed in a relatively small space which the entrant has used to its full potential.
Mrs Taylor has worked on improving her garden over the past few years and has created a little piece of paradise. The garden has two small ponds and some garden ornaments which help add the character to the area. Another worth entrant!
Continuing the theme of making the most of smaller outdoor spaces, this garden is a fantastic example of creating a little piece of paradise in a small garden. Often small
gardens can look cluttered and untidy but Mrs Barsley spends a lot of time in making their garden look full but tidy and colourful.
St George’s Church of England Community Primary School - Gainsborough
A group of Gainsborough schoolchildren who have become renowned for their inclusive behaviours have been shortlisted for Our Heroes awards.
Children at St George’s Church of England Community Primary School have been shortlisted in the ‘Young People of the Year’ category at the Our Heroes awards.
It comes after the children rallied around to support classmate Logan Mountcastle, who last year was diagnosed with an incurable genetic disorder and confined to a wheelchair. Together, they have held fundraising events and have been praised for including everyone in school activities.
Logan has now moved to another school to receive specialist care, but he remains very close to his former classmates.
Classmate Logan Rendall, 11, said: “We were all looking after him. We would help him with things like work. If he wanted to go and speak to a teacher, we would take him there. We would play games with him.
“We had a ‘Logan’s Day’ where we had his two favourite things – Paw Patrol and Disney characters – and everybody dressed up and raised money for charity.
“Looking after one another is one of the most important things and doing whatever it takes to help. Nobody thought anything about awards. We’re all very surprised.”
Mrs Vaux, the school’s Acting Deputy Head, said: “The children are so inclusive. When Logan was at the school, the children made nothing of it and accepted him. He was always included. They were just fabulous.
“We’re so proud of them. We always talk about St George’s being a family and this is just another example of how when you’re a family you look after people whatever happens.”
The school also runs a pupil-led school council which has been applauded for helping to make decisions around the school.
Click the image below to hear from pupils and staff of the school on the nomination!
Jake Farrow - Gainsborough
Jake Farrow, who is just about to turn 18, has had uncontrolled epilepsy since he was just five-years-old. He has regular seizures and has undergone many surgeries over the years.
The Aegir Specialist Academy pupil has been shortlisted for his attitude towards his condition.
Despite injuring himself many times through these seizures, Jake has never once complained and is one of the happiest people his friends and family know. He is a very kind and well-mannered young man who never lets anything get him down.
Jake’s mum, Amanda, said: “He was a perfectly normal boy and then one day he started having a seizure and he’s had a seizure every day since.
“But to this day, he still has a smile on his face every day and nothing bothers him. He’s been through a lot. He’s had brain surgery. He’s had two implants to try and control his epilepsy, he’s on medication. In the last year, he has started to suffer from a dislocated shoulder when he has a seizure.
“He’s amazing. It just doesn’t bother him. He’s always thinking about others.”
Jake said: “I feel very proud. I didn’t even know that I’d been nominated.”
Talking about his condition, he added: “I feel a seizure coming on. Spider man has his spider senses, but I have epilepsy senses.”
Click the image below to hear from Jake and his mum Amanda on his nomination!
Charitable brothers Murrey and Evan from Market Rasen have been collecting items to give to homeless people at Christmas.
Following a visit to London where Murrey was struck by the amount of homeless people, Murrey (then aged just six) started a collection of shoebox Christmas treats to give via the Nomad Trust in Lincoln to those living on the streets at Christmas. His brother Evan is also now heavily involved.
It’s believed the duo have donated more than 250 shoeboxes full of food, sweets, hats, gloves, hot chocolate, toothbrushes and toothpaste to charity over the last six Christmases.
Murrey said: “We went to London when I was really young, and we saw these homeless people and I was asking mum why they were sat on the floor. Every homeless person we went past, I asked whether we could put some money in their pot. Then we came up with the idea of doing shoeboxes at Christmas, so they can feel like they’re not on their own on Christmas Day. It makes them happy, I think.
“We actually got to see them being given shoeboxes last year, and they were so grateful. It was quite nice to watch. It made me feel happy. Usually when we see them, they aren’t happy, but this puts a smile on their faces. It’s a good feeling to do something good for someone.
“We don’t do it for an award. We do it to make people happy. You can tell that they appreciate it.”
Evan said: “I don’t find it very nice when you see people laying on the floor - we’re all in homes and comfy and they’re on a rock-solid floor. We actually received a Christmas Card back from one of the homeless people – I like it when they are happy.
Evan even donated 16 Easter eggs he recently won to the Nomad Trust to help with their efforts.
The brothers are supported by family and friends, who regularly donate items for shoeboxes. Murrey added: “It’s nice to see the support that everyone gives. It’s really helpful because obviously we couldn’t do all the boxes by ourselves so it’s nice that people give up their own time to go and buy things to put in a shoebox.
Travis Ayres, Alex Bond and Liam Wilson have been working tirelessly to raise funds to improve their local football facilities in Bardney.
They have been fundraising to be able to apply for grants to resurface the 5-a-side pitch at the Bardney Gateway Centre as currently it is an old tarmac surface that badly needs replacing to bring it up to present day standards. They would like to replace it with a new multi-use surface, capable of being used for other sports as well as football.This pitch will be a valuable asset, not just to the youth club but to the whole village.
The group have been fundraising since August 2016 and have shown tenacity, organising coffee mornings, Easter egg hunts, a Halloween Ghost walk and American Breakfasts as well as running the barbecue at Bardney Gala and helping with the logistics of that event.
So far they have raised in excess of £2800.
They are working under the guidance of the Gateway Centre and have made them very proud.
Everyone at the centre feels that they deserve all the backing and help that they can get them and see them as a credit to the young people of the village.