It’s time to cast your vote for the Wakefield Community Foundation’s Unsung Heroes Awards.
A shortlist of 13 names has been drawn up to contest five prizes, including a Wakefield Express readers’ award sponsored by Jolliffe Cork Chartered Accountants.
The winners will be unveiled at an awards ceremony hosted by TV personality Christa Ackroyd at Unity Works on June 9.
Community Foundation administrator John Major said: “Wakefield District has a very vibrant voluntary community which is rarely recognised. With these times of austerity resulting in further council cutbacks, this district desperately needs more unsung heroes to step forward to fill the void and expand the big society ethos.
“Following our call for nominations we were actually surprised and delighted to receive so many. It was a very difficult job but our panel managed to shortlist these down to 13 inspirational volunteers from right across our district.”
The nominees are Joanne Speight, of Pontefract, who tirelessly volunteers for children in the Five Towns. She also works for Wakefield Council safeguarding children and has recently set up a homeless project. She has been called ‘truly an Earth angel’.
Lee Chopping, of Ossett, will be climbing Mount Kilimanjaro later this year, raising awareness and money for Autism Awareness. He is training and fundraising while supporting his family and looking after his autistic child.
Amanda Marchant and Caroline Coles run not for profit street dance school, Urban Dance Theory in Castleford. The school helps to get children that come from a difficult background together and help them overcome social and emotional problems.
Issac O’Connor has volunteered at Rycroft Youth Centre in Ryhill for the last four years. He runs the teatime club for youngsters aged eight to 13. He plans, delivers and evaluates activities with other volunteers and is always there to give support and advice to younger members.
Melv Mills established Oak Forest School in Nostell as a voluntary organisation in 2010 to connect as many children and young people with the outdoors as possible. Fast forward seven years, the not-for-profit organisation has worked with 3,500 children and young people.
Steve Greatorex started up a sports group, Able 2, for those with a physical disability after realising there was nothing in the area for them. It started with wheelchair sports and boccia. Steve is also the coach for Wakefield Whirlwinds Disabled Basketball in Featherstone and the kids just love him.
Sharon Firth runs voluntarily runs Wakefield charity Beat Autism, which she founded. She tirelessly helps families and children who have been diagnosed with autism or going through the process. Selfless Sharon lives and breathes for the autism charity.
Dawn Bland has been involved with Spectrum People in Wakefield for a year. Inspirational Dawn has mental health issues and writes poetry. She is immensely talented and does not want others to go through the same types of ordeal that she has.
Sarah Padden, of Cafe Nineteen in Wakefield, opens her doors to the homeless and less fortunate once a month to help feed, clothe and offer support to people who are down on their luck. Every evening she goes out with several hot meals into the town centre to feed the homeless too.
Pensioner Ted Helliwell is now 80-years-old and still volunteers every week at Second Chance Headway Centre in Wakefield. Second Chance provide therapy and rehabilitation for adults with brain injuries. The former teacher started volunteering there in 1994. He has worked with people of all ages.
Wheelchair user Sabrina Archbold, of Kidz Aware, has supported hundreds of families of disabled children access services over the last 20 years. She is also now supporting adults with mental health issues for Kidz Aware. She provides a wide range of advice.
Kaz Williams, of CONST (Children Of Normanton Support Team) goes out of her way to make everyone happy. She spends so much time looking into different ways of doing things, and different fundraising ideas. The kids love her, and everything she does.
Keith Deal, along with fellow committee members Jan Carlton and Terry Pell, has voluntarily run the Spectrum Children’s Drama Company for 26 years. The group from Normanton and Altofts takes children from ages six to 16 and produces two high-quality shows a year.
Administrator Mr Major added: “We had a professional video team out filming each of the nominees and their causes and these films will be shown on the night to highlight the work being done and I am sure it will be a very emotional evening.”
To select your unsung here email firstname.lastname@example.org or see the coupon on this week’s Express.
Tickets are still available for the awards evening.
The cost is £50 and includes a three-course dinner and pre-drinks reception. See www.wakefieldcf.org.uk for more information.