Your community champions crowned at Wakefield Volunteer Awards

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Community champion Alison Drake was honoured with two posthumous awards at the Wakefield Volunteer Awards.

The lifelong volunteer, who had spent more than 20 years helping to drive forward the regeneration of Castleford, died just days before the event took place, but was recognised with the event’s annual Unsung Hero Award, before being granted a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Murray Edwards, director of the Community Foundation for the Wakefield District, said: “It’s always fairly emotional, because these are people who do things off their own back, but the fact that Alison had died a week before made it all the more emotional.

“Yvette Cooper spoke very movingly about Alison, and was on the verge of tears the entire time. It was lovely that we were able to do something for her.

“We say the awards are about ordinary people doing extraordinary things, and if anyone was an example of that, it was Alison Drake.”

The annual Unsung Heroes Awards, organised by the Community Foundation Wakefield, aim to recognise those who volunteer their time to help make the district a better place.

More than 230 people attended the awards on Friday evening, honouring a selection of nominees who volunteer their time litter picking, fundraising and working with young people.

Following a tribute to Ms Drake, delivered by Yvette Cooper MP, 13 other nominees received awards for their work in the community.

Each nominee had recorded a short interview demonstrating the importance of their hard work, and was recognised with a trophy and certificate.

Georgia Greening won the Tim Henman Youth Award for her work raising thousands of pounds for the Forget Me Not Children’s Hospice.

She said: “I was so amazed, it was such a shock. When they called my name I just didn’t believe it, I was looking around for another Georgia.

“I’ve never gone into the work thinking I’m going to get an award.

“It’s all about making memories. I’ve seen the hospice, I’m a child myself, and I know what it’s like to make every moment count.

“I don’t do my work for the recognition, I do it because it’s helping the charity and the children, but it is really nice to get the awards.”

The People’s Choice Award voted for by over 500 members of the public which went to John Walter of the Horbury Breakthrough Youth Project and was presented by Harry Gration.

Wakefield MP Mary Creagh MP said: “John Walter is known throughout Horbury for his unswerving commitment to young people. He has volunteered for many years now and is known by almost every family in Horbury!

“It was wonderful to see his passion and commitment being honoured at the Community Foundation’s Unsung Heroes Awards last Friday.” The Overall Winner’s Award went to Trevor Waddington of Pontefract Collieries Football Family and was presented by Ms Creagh.

The Community Foundation supports people and causes across the district who may not be receiving the help they need. As well as recognising volunteers, this includes supporting families facing poverty and sickness, advancing education for adults and children, and protecting physical and mental wellbeing.”

Unsung Heroes: Alison Drake, for 20 years of work as a community champion in Castleford

Rob Elson, for working tirelessly to keep Crofton clean, and organising volunteer litter picks

Georgia Greening, 15, who has raised £2,700 for the Forget Me Not children’s hospice

Hollie Wicks, 17, who has volunteered 1,000 hours at Ryhill and Havercroft Youth centre

Matthew Lightowler, 15, for his unwavering commitment to Crofton Youth Centre
Stuart Macauley, who runs a not-for-profit martial arts club in Featherstone

Kirstie McDonough, 14, for speaking out for young people living with domestic violence

Ann Penistone, who raised £15,000 to help restore Knottingley’s war memorial

Ann Ramsden, founded the Rosalie Ryrie Foundation, which supports those living with domestic abuse

Hazel Richardson, for helping to form a vision for the future of Knottingley

Trevor Waddington, founder of the Football Family, which offers courses and work placements;

Dawn Weathers and Lynne Jones, who have run Busybodies parent and toddler group for over 25 years

John Walter, who has worked in youth work for more than 25 years, and helps 500 people a year.

The Tim Henman Youth Award, presented by Ed Anderson, HM Lord Lieutenant for West Yorkshire: Georgia Greening

Lifetime Volunteering Award, presented by Sir Rodney & Lady Anne Walker: Alison Drake

The People’s Choice Award, presented by BBC Look North’s Harry Gration: John Walter

Overall Winner’s Award, presented by city MP Mary Creagh: Trevor Waddington