THE winners of the West Cumbria Community Heroes awards have been revealed.

A glitzy gala was held at Whitehaven Golf Club on Thursday evening where winners of 14 categories were announced.

Two extra awards  - young achiever of the year and judges special award - were also presented at the prestigious event.

The Whitehaven News and the Times & Star has supported the awards, in association with Sellafield Limited.

The awards were an opportunity for readers to nominate caring neighbours, hard-working volunteers and big-hearted youngsters who have made a real difference in their community. They are they true superheroes of West Cumbria.

Carer of the Year sponsored by Westinghouse Nuclear

Winner: Michelle Wall and her family, from Abbeytown

THIS inspirational family, from Abbeytown, care for their little boy Noah who was born with spina bifida.

Mum Michelle has used her experiences to raise awareness about Noah's condition and the importance of taking folic acid in pregnancy.

Her nominator said: "Michelle has had to overcome many personal challenges to support Noah. It is Michelle's genuinely caring nature that rises above all else. "Not only does she care for her son, she also offers care and support to others."

Judges praised Michelle and her family, saying: "They are inspirational in the way that they help others from their own experiences and raise awareness of the issue under the exceptional circumstances that they have gone through. They have gone way over and above what they needed to do."

Commended: Christine Hodgson: Nominated for 27 years service with Hospice at Home West Cumbria. West Cumbria Carers: Nominated for securing £200,000 extra benefits for carers in the last 12 months.

Neighbour of the Year sponsored by LLW Repository Ltd.

Winner: Rhoda Sharkey from Egremont

FEISTY Rhoda hit the headlines after fighting off a would-be robber with a pair of blunt scissors and a mop!

The 71-year-old, who works at Coleridge Stores in Egremont, refused to be intimated by the robber who demanded cash from the till.

Our team of judges said: "She is well-known in Egremont as the stalwart of the community. She has certainly helped people out in their hour of need and showed some West Cumbrian grit!"

Commended: Paul Hulse: Nominated for helping to transport his neighbour to hospital appointments and helping the family.

Good Friend of the Year sponsored by Balfour Beatty 

Winner: Arben Pervizaj from Kells

BRAVE eight year-old Arben kept his cool when checking his best friend, Ryan Wood, was still alive after being hit by a car.

Arben had been on his way to Kells' shop on High Road when the car struck Ryan's face, breaking his jaw and nose.

The youngster responded quickly to check Ryan was still breathing before running to get help.

The team of judges said: "It is truly frightening to think what could have happened if it wasn't for Arben's cool head, quick-thinking and care for a friend. Police referred to Arben as a "superhero"."

Commended: Pauline Grears: Nominated for her long-standing work with COSC at Cleator Moor. 

Jack and Ben Snowden: The father and young son were nominated for raising money for Ben's friend, the late Tom Froggatt, who developed a brain condition.

Young Sporting Hero of the Year sponsored by Lakes College  

Winner: Kyle Bickley

THIS under-16 World Champion Speedway rider is an inspiration to people on and off the track.

Kyle, of Workington, with his dad and grandad, travels to make sure he holds on to his title.

Recently, he set up a fund to help repair Northside track in Workington, following a spate of vandalism, as well as juggling school and home life.

His nominator says he is an inspiration to other youngsters who want to excel in sport.

The judges praised the teen: "He is so enthusiastic about his sport, that to make sure he meets the demands of keeping this title, he travels around both the UK and Europe," they said.


Olivia Mason: The runner was nominated for finishing among the top five girls in the UK in the under-15 age group. 

Gemma Taylor: The mountain biker has worked her way up to be third junior in the British cycling rankings and second in the national BDS series.

Sporting Hero of the Year sponsored by Nugen 

Winner: Luke Greenbank, Great Broughton

LUKE is one of Great Britain's brightest swimming prospects.

The Cockermouth Swimming Club member has picked up a haul of medals and broken several records competing at junior swimming events across the world.

He won two gold medals and two silver medals at the European Games in Azerbaijan in June.

The judges said: "He is not just achieving locally, but at national and international levels. From the evidence, we hope he will achieve his ambition of going all the way and competing in Rio Olympics 2016. A great representative of Team GB!"


Marnie Jackson: Nominated for her role as community manager for Workington Town Community Foundation. Simon Lawson: Nominated for being one of the top wheelchair racers in the world.

Unsung Hero of the Year sponsored by NRL 

Winner: Alan Hunter, Maryport

THIS man has a huge part to play in the success of COSC (Copeland Occupational and Social Care).

Alan is the manager of Allerdale COSC, based at Park Hill, Maryport.

The centre provides day care for people with disabilities and also has a centre in Cleator Moor. Centre users are encouraged to take up new hobbies and join in with classes to help them socialise.

The judges said: "COSC brings together people that would not normally get together. COSC provides high quality day care for adults with disabilities that is ran very well with a safe, friendly and homely environment. It is excellent what he does, a true unsung hero."


Tracey Nicholson: Nominated for fundraising for a skate park in memory of her son Kieran Goulding who died five years ago in the Keswick School bus crash. 

Marie Scott: Nominated for her role as chairman of the West Cumbria Society for the Blind.

Volunteer of the Year sponsored by CCF 

Winner: Sandra McKeown, Flimby

SANDRA has been awarded the prestigious title of Volunteer of the Year for her leadership role of Flimby Girls' Brigade.

She was talked into taking over by her daughter, and Sandra said she would give it six months. Eighteen years later, she's still at the helm.

Her nominator said the organisation has gone from strength to strength and this year, members have won national competitions in the Girls Brigade movement, putting Flimby on the map.

Judges said: "She is beyond 'just' a volunteer in everything that she does to make sure that she adds more value to young people and her community."


Kieron Rogers: Nominated for his involvement with Orgill Primary School and community ventures in Egremont.

Linda Cairns: Nominated for being chairman of Greenbank Community Association in Whitehaven.

Best Community Project sponsored by NNL 

Winner: Mirehouse Residents Group, Whitehaven

IMPROVING the life of residents at Mirehouse is the aim of this group.

The group, which was formed in 2007, works with residents, schools and agencies to implement projects and events to get generations working together.

It has also developed a community garden and hosts sessions at Mirehouse Community Centre, including cookery and runs a fortnightly food co-op.

The judges said: "There is no doubt that Mirehouse faces economic challenges, but as this group proves, its residents are proud to live there and work as a community for the good of the neighbourhood."


North Lakes Foodbank: Nominated for helping West Cumbrian families who struggle to feed themselves and their children. 

Stephen McDowell: Nominated for his role in Friends of Kie Park, which aim to open a skate park in memory of the late Kieran Goulding. Ian Oglanby: He is one of five friends who have raised thousands of pounds for charity.

School Worker of the Year sponsored by Atkins Global 

Winner: Jericho Primary School's Stephanie Sapsed, Karen Pickering, Tracy Murphy, Deb Stephenson, Liz Little and Sophie Dowber

THESE kind-hearted women have been nominated for their care and attention to the pupils of the Whitehaven school.

The teachers and teaching assistants help look after Alison and Neil Brown's child, who has spina bifida and the parents said if it wasn't for the women, their daughter would not have been able to attend mainstream school.

They said: "We will always be in debt to those members of staff for their professionalism, willingness and ability to treat our daughter just like any other child. It is extremely difficult for us to say how grateful we are."

The judges said: "Six teaching assistants and teachers carefully weighed up one particular student's needs and adapted their skills to go that extra mile to help. It is truly inspirational how the staff were happy to train up to suit the needs of a student."


Will Henderson: Nominated for his work with the Chill Out Zone, a community child care organisation. 

Patsy Harvey: Nominated for going above and beyond her role as English teacher at St Benedict's School in Whitehaven.

Small to Medium Enterprise Sustainable Business of the Year sponsored by CN Group 

Winner: React Engineering

BASED in Cleator Moor, this is a business that provides solutions to nuclear clean-up problems.

It says its commitment to Cumbria is second nature to it as for it to be successful, it needs the county to be successful.

It set up the React Foundation in 2004 to engage and inspire the next generation of engineers - its employees of the future.

Over the last 10 years, it has developed several initiatives to promote science and engineering to youngsters aged between nine and 18.

The judges said: "They have a tremendous engagement with the local community with both an economic and skills perspective. Also, the work that they do in schools with React Foundation is fantastic."


Cumbria Recycling Ltd: Nominated for recyling white goods for housing associations and community organisations

Large Sustainable Business of the Year sponsored by CN Group  

Winner: Jacobs

THE business, based at Westlakes Science and Technology Park, near Whitehaven, employs 600 people across the county.

It says it is focused on building jobs and a skills base to support local sustainable business growth and deliver a range of socio-economic opportunities for local people.

Jacobs works with partners to encourage young people's interest in science and engineering and to encourage young people to stay in the county.

It also supports the Young Women in Engineering programme, sits on the executive board of Women in Nuclear and works with Women in Science and Engineering.

The judges praised Jacobs, saying: "They are an active participant in the Centre of Nuclear Excellence as well as having a growing presence throughout West Cumbria."

Commended: National Nuclear Laboratory: 

Nominated for its role is to make sure the UK's skills in nuclear research and development is sustained and nurtured.

Emergency Services Champion of the Year sponsored by Iggesund 

Winner: Paul Murphy

PAUL has been instrumental in setting up the Cumbria Blood Bikes service.

This is a national charity that provide voluntary motorcycle courier services to hospitals and other healthcare providers, to help with the transport of urgent blood, tissue and organs.

Paul gives up a lot of his time to make sure this much needed service stays on the road and his nominator says he is a dedicated and focused individual.

The judges said: "An excellent scheme that aids the health service. He is spending his own spare time to help with a service that anyone could need at any time."


John Stobbart: Nominated for being a volunteer for Workington RNLI for more than 25 years. Mike Hughes: Nominated for his voluntary role with the Workington RNLI for 20 years.

West Cumbrian Male of the Year sponsored by Sellafield Ltd 

Winner: Stephen Coates, Cockermouth

THE winner of this award has worked tirelessly for the Cockermouth branch of the Royal British Legion for many years.

At this time of year, he can usually be seen out and about collecting for the poppy appeal.

Earlier this year when his branch was threatened with closure, he began a campaign through the Times and Star to run an article appealing for more help to save the branch.

Three people came forward and the branch was saved. Despite being in his 70s, Stephen continues to work for the Royal British Legion and the town would not have the same support for the RBL branch without his efforts.

West Cumbrian Female of the Year sponsored by Sellafield Ltd 

Winner: Jenny Brumby, Millom

Jenny has been awarded this prestigious title for her instrumental in the Health Action Group in Millom.

Its major achievement was to help the town to rise and protest against the closure of the local hospital, pulling together everyone and leading a protest rally that resulted in better communication with the local health authority.

This in turn has given the town a voice in planning its future health facilities, with services that are more adapted to their unique needs.

Jenny has been described as the voice of the people of Millom. She has worked tirelessly to help with educational campaigns for young and old.

Young achiever of the year sponsored by E-ON Robin Rigg Off Shore Wind Farm 

Winner: Kyle Bickley

INSPIRATIONAL young sportsman Kyle has won a number of British titles on Grass Track and Speedway – and is a British and World Junior Speedway Champion.

The talented Stainburn School pupil starting racing at the age of eight. When he’s not racing or training he’s giving help and advice to other children learning the sport.

On top of this, he has raised £1,400 to help repair the North Side race track in Workington following a spate of vandalism.

He began the GoFundMe campaign to raise £5,000 and is well on the way to achieving his goal.

All of this whilst training and travelling to competitions around Britain and Europe.

The judges said: "He is a World Champion and as well as this he is a fundraiser. He fundraises in his spare time to help repair the north side track in Workington as well as managing to juggle his home life and school work. He is a really positive role model for other children."

Judges' Special Award sponsored by Sellafield Ltd 

Winner: Gerard Richardson

IN recognition for a lifetime's achievements, Gerard Richardson has been given this prestigious award.

As the founder of the Whitehaven Festival, he's entertained countless thousands with tall ships, home and garden festivals, fireworks and concerts on the town's harbourside.

In 2008, the Queen visited Whitehaven to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the harbour gaining Royal Assent and to celebrate the American links to the port, as well as formally opening The Beacon.

During his time on the Whitehaven Festival Committee, Gerard has organised 10 displays from the spectacular Red Arrows, and has brought big names to the town including international soprano Katherine Jenkins, former X-Factor judge Louis Walsh, boyband McFly, Madness, Boy George and Status Quo.

Others include hairdresser-to-the-stars Nicky Clarke, celebrity magician Dynamo, soap star Michelle Collins top chef and Strictly star Ainsley Harriott and Jean Christophe Novelli.

From the first Maritime Festival in 1999 - which was expected to attract 10,000 but actually resulted in a crowd of 80,000 - the event's success developed, became an annual occasion and branched out to include major concerts and other shows, such as home and garden.

Gerard was awarded the MBE in 2011 in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List for his services to the tourist industry and to the community in Whitehaven.