Cast your vote for for our area's hard-working Unsung Hero...

It's time to cast your vote for the Community Foundation Wakefield District's Unsung Heroes Awards.

Friday, 18th May 2018, 1:59 pm
Updated Friday, 18th May 2018, 2:01 pm

Ten nominees are in the running for five awards as well as the Wakefield Express Readers’ Award.

The winners will be unveiled at an awards ceremony hosted by Yorkshire business expert and broadcaster Kate Hardcastle at Unity Hall on June 8.

David Dinmore, chairman of trustees at the community foundation, said: “Community activity across the district continues to play an essential part in the life of this area, but the work undertaken by literally hundreds if not thousands of volunteers often goes unrecognised. At a time of continuing reductions in local authority spending, this district desperately needs more unsung heroes to step forward to fill the void and support and develop further growth in activity.”

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“Following our call for nominations we were delighted that they have come from all corners of the district and covered such a wide range of different activities. It was a difficult task to reduce them to manageable numbers but our awards panel has managed to shortlist ten.”

The nominees are:

Wayne Cunningham: Wayne was in a car accident when he was 18 which rendered him paralysed from the neck down. Despite this he has raised three children and done a remarkable job considering how little movement he has. Despite being wheelchair bound, he works alongside SURF, spending time talking to patients at Pinderfields Hospital, conducting bag-packs, organising meals and day trips for them. He has raised thousands of pounds for the charity since his accident and is an inspiration to everyone who meets him.

Chris Hall: Chris is a former semi-professional Rugby League player who, during a 10-year period, played for Castleford Tigers, Dewsbury Rams and Wakefield Trinity. In 2012, during a pre-season friendly, Chris was involved in an on-field fracas and half an hour later collapsed and was rushed to hospital. After several days in intensive care he was found to be suffering partial paralysis and loss of speech. With support from family and friends Chris has slowly recovered but even now, six years later still has major problems. Despite this, Chris presents for the State of Mind Charity and in January became head coach of Wakefield Trinity Community Trust’s Physical Disability Team, where he volunteers his time to help others experience the sport he loves.

Erna Harris: Erna works for a legal practice in Pontefract but runs a weekly street kitchen in Pontefract on behalf of a local support group. They feed, clothe and give out vital essentials to the homeless, directing them to housing needs and hostels and giving advice on obtaining benefits and emergency care. They also give help to struggling families with vital food and other supplies on Thursday evenings every week. She encourages young people to become involved in her team and they too play a vital part in an increasingly important service.

Barbara Kitson: Barbara started the Ossett fundraising group for Wakefield Hospice 35 years ago. She was the treasurer, but when people left she took on the role of chairman and secretary. She is now the leader of the group and organises everything – a tea/coffee bar on Tuesdays in Ossett Town Hall, stalls at various events, and an annual concert at Ossett Town Hall. Her house is full of donated goods and without her there probably wouldn’t be an Ossett fundraising group.

Lynne Lomas: Lynne has been a volunteer at Carers Wakefield and District for over more than two years. She gives her time to befriend two carers who have been looking after their loved ones for many years but who have found themselves isolated and in need of social contact. She also supports carers in groups and promotes the charity’s services at a range of different events. She offers her time at least 2-3 days every week and makes a huge difference to the lives of very many people.

Tom Long/Josie Hemingway: The pair both play a leading role with a senior citizens support group in Horbury. Together with other dedicated volunteers they run a wide range of social events and activities, which are designed to provide a level of interest and motivation to ensure that members get out and about, meet with others and socialise within the community and beyond. The group works to create an environment that prevents isolation and involves their 661 members by creating something to look forward to on a weekly basis.

Molly Simpson: Molly has been involved with St John’s Church in Ossett for more than 40 years, organising outings and raising money for church funds. She is the treasurer and has played piano and organ for Sunday services for many years. She is also a very hardworking volunteer at Ossett Community Centre, among other things assisting at the Wednesday luncheon club. She is member of the Soroptimists and the St Raphael Singers who rehearse in Wakefield, and a volunteer at HMP Wakefield where she organises a visitor’s tea bar.

Margaret Stevens: Margaret is an inspiration, giving up her free time boundlessly to help serve others. She helps at South Elmsall foodbank, a stroke club 
in the SESKU area and volunteers at Upton Community Library which has now been taken over from the local authority and is run by volunteers. People say if you want to know what’s going on or what needs to be done in Upton, talk to Margaret. She is a truly unselfish and exceptional member of the local community.

Phil Taylor: Following the completion of a walking challenge to raise money for Guide Dogs for the Blind, Phil took over the running of the local fundraising group in Wakefield and Pontefract two years ago. In addition to raising money, the group provides opportunities for people who might otherwise become isolated, enabling them to meet others, join in and contribute towards the charity. His involvement has made a huge difference and this has resulted in them raising thousands and thousands of pounds so the charity can train more dogs and help many more people.

Sheila Wainwright: Sheila cared for her husband for many years when he developed dementia until he died six years ago. She found it very difficult to get support until she discovered Admiral Nurses although, at that time, there were none available in the Wakefield district. She has worked tirelessly to raise funds and, as a result, there are now two Admiral Nurses based in the district with fundraising taking place for a third. She is also chairman of Wakefield Rotary Club.

Chairman David Dinmore added: “We had a professional video team film each of the shortlisted nominees and their causes; these films will be shown at the awards evening.”


Decide who you think is deserving of an Unsung Heroes award.

Then email your choice, along with your name and address, to [email protected]

Alternatively, you can fill in the coupon in this week’s Express and send it to: Community Foundation Wakefield District, PO Box 695, 19 King Street, Wakefield, WF1 9NW.

The deadline is noon on Monday, June 4.

Tickets for the awards evening are still available and cost £60 including a three-course dinner and champagne reception. Go to or email [email protected]