Community spirit celebrated at awards night for council tenants

Some of the finest  examples of community spirit  were recognised at a special award ceremony which was held in Northumberland last night.
The Spirit of the Community Awards, run by Northumberland County Council,  recognize council  tenants who have gone out of their way to help others to enjoy life to the full.
Now in their fifth year, the awards attracted a strong field of entries which were judged by a panel made up of tenants and housing officers.
The categories and winners were:
  • Good Neighbours of the Year – Pat Harvey from Cramlington and Margaret Walker from Alnwick
  •  Best Community Groups (Adult) -  Rodsley Court Resident Group and Rothbury and East Harford Community Association 
  • Best Young People’s community group – Silx Teen Bar in Blyth
  • Garden of the Year - Ann Mackenzie who lives in Patterson House sheltered housing
  • Young Person of the Year -  Callum Bell from Blyth
  • Volunteer of the year award - Clare Landers from Seaton Valley
  • Winner of Winners - Margaret Walker from Alnwick
Northumberland County Councillor,  Allan Hepple cabinet member responsible for housing said:
“These awards are a wonderful way of celebrating and  sharing  all the good work that our tenants are involved in. There have been some really inspiring stories of individuals and communities pulling together to improve the lives of others and it is always difficult to single out winners from such a strong field of entries. It has been  particularly encouraging this year to see the number of young people getting involved and making a difference to the lives of others.”
Joan Woodburn of Rodsley Court in Rothbury, winners of the  Best Adult Community Group  said:
“It has been an absolutely fantastic night and it was heartening to meet so many people who go out of their way to help others.  We enjoy our fundraising, it keeps us busy and it keeps us young. It helps community spirit and brings us all together. We never thought we’d win an award. It was totally unexpected and we are all absolutely delighted.”
Callum Bell of Blyth,  winner of the Young Person Of  The Year award said: “ Tonight’s award was a real surprise for me and I’m really pleased to have won it. I love karate and have a great time with the people from the club.”
Young Person of the Year was won by 14 year old Callum Bell, from Blyth
Callum has been a member of the  Stryke Karate Club at the Buffalo Community Centre in Blyth  for four years. When he first joined the club he was a young , shy boy with little confidence.  Happily thorough his hard work and dedication and through the extra support he received while attending Stryke Club, Callum has improved his health, confidence, motivation and  his performance at school. Callum is now  inspiring other young people in similar circumstances as a black belt and a junior instructor and is a fantastic role model for other young people.
Good Neighbour Awards were  won by Pat Harvey from Cramlington and Margaret Walker from  Alnwick
Pat Harvey is well loved and respected in her local community for all the help and  support she gives to others. Pat regularly makes Sunday dinner for neighbours who live alone and she takes a wheelchair bound neighbour and friend out for walks and fresh air.  Another  of her good deeds involves sitting with a lady who has Alzheimer’s so that her husband can have  a worry-free break.
Margaret Walker lives in Augur Place in Alnwick and is a pivotal figure in community life and a valuable neighbour and friend to everyone living in the sheltered housing scheme. She runs a twice weekly coffee morning to raise funds which are used  to take everyone out for Christmas dinner, she looks out for and  cooks for her neighbours  and encourages residents to join in events and get involved.
Garden of the Year award was won by Ann Mackenzie who lives in Patterson House in Blyth.
Ann has always been a keen gardener so when she moved into sheltered housing  at Patterson House in Blyth she took it upon herself to put her green fingers to work and help develop and maintain the community garden. She and other volunteers spend many hours tending to the garden which is beautifully maintained and  boasts an array of colourful plants.  Ann really is dedicated and the attractive gardens have been admired and appreciated by many residents and visitors.
The Best Adult Community Group was won by Rodsley Court Resident Group in Rothbury and East Hartford Community Association
The Rodsley Court Resident Group  is  a hive of activity providing regular social and fundraising events in the rural community of Rothbury. The group  is extremely active and raise funds for local charities including Amble Life Boat, The Children’s Cancer Unit at the RVI and the Royal Voluntary Service. Residents are encouraged to join in and get involved by selling tickets, donating prizes and baking cakes. Their events are open to the wider community who are regularly invited  to attend.
East Hartford Community Association is a thriving and hardworking group. They have taken over the local welfare institute which was run down and seldom used. The  dedicated group  worked  hard to raise funds to revamp the institute, they cleaned out the building and now host a  variety of events at the venue which the whole community can enjoy. The group also lay on events throughout the year for local children  including an Easter egg hunt, Halloween disco, fancy dress and Christmas parties and a very successful family fun day.
Best Young People’s Community Group  - Silx Teen Bar, Blyth
Silx Teen Bar in Blyth is a fantastic venue where young people aged 11-19 can meet and take part in free educational and recreational projects and activities.
During the day young people can visit the centre to access a range of support including CV writing, completion of  application forms and referrals to training providers.
Evening sessions include  music, art, health awareness, community involvement projects, hair and beauty sessions and projects and  activities. There is  youth worker support for young people who may be experiencing personal problems. The teen bar attracts over 700 young people each year and works with other partners including Northumbria Police, NHS, and training providers.
Volunteer of the year Award was won by Clare Landers from Seaton Valley
Clare is an active member of the Seaton Sluice community. She is a weekly volunteer at the local community centre and  bakes cupcakes for the weekly drop in cafĂ© for the elderly.  She attends all the community litter picks and bulb planting days and she entered and won both the local bloom garden competition and Christmas window competition.
Clare has real community spirit , she updates the  community centre Facebook page and is the centre’s key link to  the younger generation.
Winner of winners Margaret Walker of Augur Place, in Alnwick
A raffle was held on the evening which raised £125 for charity Tiny Lives that supports premature and sick newborn babies and their families on the Neonatal Unit at the RVI hospital in Newcastle upon Tyne.
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