A special awards ceremony has been held in Cherwell to celebrate the hard work of volunteers and groups who make a real difference in the community.
The Cherwell ‘Love Where You Live’ Volunteer Awards, organised by Sanctuary and Cherwell District Council, asked local people to nominate volunteers, neighbours and groups who have gone above and beyond to help others during the last 12 months.
Members of the community gathered in the garden of Bodicote House, in Banbury, as the award winners were revealed:
Volunteer of the Year winner – Mike Hampton
(Pictured above (left), receiving his award from Councillor John Donaldson (right). Photo credit: Keith Davies)
Michael Hampton received the Volunteer of the Year award for his selfless work as ‘Mike on a Bike’, helping the community during the pandemic with shopping and collecting and delivering prescriptions, especially for those who were shielding.
One example of Mike’s work included collecting a blood sample for a resident and delivering it to their doctors, volunteering his own time.
Mike, who received over 40 nominations, was said to be: ‘a true local hero’, ‘did everything with a smile’, ‘deserves recognition’, ‘inspirational’, ‘a kind and honest person’.
Even after the passing of his father, Mike was even more determined to continue to give back to those who were isolating or shielding and unable to get supplies.
Mike said: “I am dedicating this award to my mum and late dad as they instilled the values in me that make me want to help others in need.”
Young Volunteer of the Year winner - Adidja Carpenter
(Pictured below (centre), receiving his award from Selma Wakeman (right), with Dave Earle (left) Photo credit: Keith Davies)
Eleven-year-old Adidja Carpenter scooped Young Volunteer of the Year, after running every Saturday for six weeks to raise more than £4,000 for the Spit n Sawdust gym he trains at.
With the gym facing financial difficulty due to the pandemic, Adidja embarked on a sponsored run to raise money and keep himself mentally and physically in shape during the lockdown earlier this year.
He set out to run 10 laps of the People's Park every day until his birthday in March. Through rain, sleet and snow he raised £4,000 towards improvement of Spit n Sawdust.
Lifetime Volunteer of the Year winner - George Dumbleton
(Pictured below (left), receiving his award from Councillor Andrew McHugh (right). Photo credit: Keith Davies)
Lifetime Volunteer of the Year was presented to George Dumbleton, a long-serving member (including past chairman and past president) of Bicester Round Table and the 41 Club.
George has played the role of Father Christmas locally for 50 years, bringing joy to many families and children and making and maintaining the annual Father Christmas float for the Round Table.
He has also been chairman/player/umpire for Chesterton and Wendlebury Cricket Club for 50 years, since the age of 18.
Recognition for volunteers
Winners were presented with heart-shaped wooden trophies, handcrafted by mental health charity Restore, and given the opportunity to select a local community group to receive £100.
Charlie Heritage, Sanctuary’s neighbourhood partnerships manager, said: “It was an honour to host an event which recognises the efforts that people in our community have gone to during an extremely tough year. They are all a true inspiration.”
Councillor Andrew McHugh, Cherwell District Council’s Lead Member for Health and Wellbeing, added: “The people of north Oxfordshire have always had a selfless spirit and shown endeavour and creativity in helping their local communities.
“But during the past 18 months we have seen those qualities demonstrated in a really exceptional way. It was a privilege for me to be able show my appreciation, and that of everyone at the council, by attending these awards.”
Community Venue of the Year: Bicester East Community Centre
In addition, nine Good Neighbour awards will be given out in the community over the coming weeks.
This project was part-funded by Sanctuary’s Community Investment Fund, supporting projects which benefit Sanctuary residents and their communities.