The winners of the St Albans Mayor’s Pride Awards were unveiled on a special Radio Verulam broadcast after a planned ceremony was cancelled due to the Covid-19 crisis.
The nominees had been due to attend a glittering awards evening at St Michael’s Manor hotel until the public health emergency prevented it from going ahead.
However, community station Radio Verulam came to the rescue by agreeing to host an alternative event – a live broadcast on the evening of
Councillor Janet Smith, the Mayor of the City and District of St Albans, said: “We were determined that the Covid-19 emergency would not stop us honouring our community heroes this year.
“My thanks to Radio Verulam for their excellent broadcast that ensured we still had a memorable awards evening.
Jonny Seabrook hosted the programme with the results being read out on air while the nominees listened in at home.
The annual awards aim to celebrate the achievements of inspiring individuals, hard-working community groups and public-spirited businesses.
Among this year’s winners were three brothers who formed a rock band to raise money for epilepsy charities, an anti-poverty campaigner and the organisers of a project to provide shelter for homeless people during the winter.
Cllr Smith said: “It is a shame that I couldn’t meet all the winners and nominees in person to offer my congratulations and present the awards.
“However, I still got to hear about the tremendous hard work and commitment they have shown over the past year.
“All of the nominated charities, businesses and individuals have done a huge amount for our community over the past year and I am proud to have been able to recognise their efforts with these awards.
“I’m sure that during this pandemic, we will all be even more appreciative of the great things that our community activists do for us.”
The awards were sponsored by the construction group Morgan Sindall with the nominees being put forward by the public.
The winners were selected by a judging panel including the Mayor, Radio Verulam’s Nick Hazell, Chloe Knight, from Morgan Sindall, Nicole Kelly, nominated for the Cultural Innovation award in 2016, Peter Trevelyan, of St Albans Civic Society, Jenny Burley, trustee of St Albans Citizens Advice, and Stuart Nagler, Chair of Communites 1st and Assistant Police Commissioner for Hertfordshire.
A special Mayor’s Recognition Award was presented to Helen Whitehouse, a volunteer at the St Albans Good Neighbour Scheme which helps elderly, unwell, lonely or disabled people.
This award is given to individuals or group that have made a significant impression on the Mayor during their year of office.
The Mayor said: “I chose Helen because she has been a frequent, reliable and dedicated volunteer with the Good Neighbour Scheme since 1995. She is someone who cares about the needs of elderly and vulnerable people in our community and is prepared to go the extra mile in helping them to stay independent in their own homes.
“She joined the committee in 1999 and became the Membership Secretary in 2000. Not only does she give lifts to hospital appointments and the like, but she also takes part as a volunteer in every aspect of the scheme.
“She’s a volunteer in the regular shopping team, a befriender, providing practical help, and has done gardening, keeping front gardens in trim so that passers-by are not alerted to the age of the resident.
“Her absolute passion, dedication and loyalty make her a real asset to the Good Neighbour Scheme. She has also found the time to volunteer at Abbey Primary School for the past twenty years.”
Nominations for next year’s awards are due to open next month with details provided on the Council’s website and social media channels.