Stars of Bolton shine at community awards
Eleven inspirational winners of Bolton at Home’s Stars of the Community Awards were announced last night.
The annual event, which took place at Bolton’s Festival Hall, recognises and rewards local volunteers who have worked selflessly to improve their neighbourhoods and communities.
Winners on the night included groups and individuals across seven categories who were nominated by others members of the community and Bolton at Home staff.
A further competition, ‘Bloomin’ Marvellous Garden’, saw two further awards for those who have gone to great efforts to improve and make their gardens outstanding.
Clean and Green Star - This award recognises projects which have not only improved the environment, but brought the community together. Beechcroft Patches scooped the award for their work in transforming a long neglected recreation area into a community garden complete with 42 fruit and vegetable beds. It plans to raise funds to introduce a further 22 beds in 2012.
Healthy Community Star - Caroline Haslam won the award for her role in supporting initiatives for mums and babies, and children under five at Tonge Moor UCAN centre, the Sarah Lodge hostel for young mums and Tonge Children’s Centre. Caroline has worked tirelessly as a volunteer and been instrumental in implementing schemes such as coffee mornings, support groups and fundraising.
Stronger Communities Star – Sponsored by environmental charity Groundwork, the award rewards people who have shown a continued commitment to improving or caring for their local community. This year’s winner, Hindley’s and Clough Farm Residents Association (HACFRA), runs the local community centre as a UCAN-style facility for the area. They have created a bumper calendar of community-led events for all ages including bingo, toddle groups, weight and fitness classes and much more.
Senior Star - Over 55’s were honoured in this category, with the top spot going to husband and wife duo Tony and Pat Longworth. The pair provided a low cost luncheon club for Longsight residents for over a decade, holding more than 500 events and continue to organise other activities to unite elderly residents including Wii nights, bowling and cinema.
Young Rising Star - The award was presented to Simon Hope, 18, who has overcome confidence issues to become an active member of a media project, producing videos and radio features before going on to co-present a youth show on Bolton FM. Simon volunteers with a community music group, sharing his new found skills and knowledge with others, and is a regular contributor to The Bolton News.
Customer Achievement Star – This was presented to Doug Cunliffe, 54, who was honoured for his work in redeveloping his residents association and managing the local community centre. Doug has also been instrumental in the success of the annual Washacre FM community radio broadcast.
Judges Award - The final winners of the night shared a special accolade for those who have gone the extra mile in working with Bolton at Home to achieve its goals. The award was presented jointly to recently retired board members Richard Smallman and Violet Barnard.
Richard and Violet sat on Bolton at Home’s board from when it launched in December 2002, taking up the positions of joint vice chair in 2002 and 2004 respectively. And the pair played a key role during Bolton at Home’s transition from an arms-length management organisation (ALMO) to taking ownership of Bolton Council's 18,000 homes earlier this year, before stepping down.
The Bloomin’ Marvellous Garden competition saw the title for ‘Most Improved Garden’ go to Alan Hopkins who transformed his garden from an overgrown space to one which can be enjoyed all year round.
Best Garden was awarded to Brendon Oxford who was commended by the judges for creating a front and back garden ‘worthy of Chelsea Flower Show’.
The Mayor of Bolton, Councillor Noel Spencer MBE, said: “We have some remarkable people in Bolton and those honoured tonight bear testament to that. They are an inspiration to us all.”
Chief Executive of Bolton at Home, Jon Lord, added: “We’re proud to celebrate the hard work and fantastic achievements of those who strive to improve their neighbourhoods and build stronger communities.”
Event sponsors were B&Q, The Casey Group, Forrest, Groundwork, J.G Redford, Max Media and Plum, Bolton at Home’s recognition and rewards initiative for its customers.
What the award winners said …
Most Improved Garden – Alan Hopkins from Great Lever:
“I’ve always taken pride in my garden, everywhere I’ve lived. It’s a source of enjoyment and I’d encourage others to do the same.”
Best Garden – Brendon Oxford from Great Lever:
“I love my garden. It’s my passion. And to get recognised for it is amazing.”
Clean and Green Star – Beechcroft Patches from Breightmet:
“We wanted to unite the community and bring back community spirit. Teamwork and sharing knowledge between each other has been so important to the success of the project and we hope to make it a big community garden for all families to enjoy.”
Healthy Community Star – Caroline Haslam from Harwood:
“I don’t volunteer for any sort of glory, but only to help others. It feels good to help young mums and share my experiences with them.”
Stronger Community Star – Hindley’s and Clough Farm Residents Association (HACFRA) Doug Cunliffe, Chair of HACFRA:
“This award represents the work that we’re very proud of, from our radio projects to food growing, weight management to street dance, and everything in-between. We’re especially looking forward to our sixth successive year of community radio, broadcasting this summer.”
Senior Star – Pat and Tony Longworth from Longsight Lodge:
Tony: “This award is brilliant and unexpected.”
Pat: “We really enjoyed running the luncheon club and will continue to put on other social activities for residents.”
Young Rising Star – Simon Hope, 18, from Tonge Moor:
“My next step is to look for an apprenticeship in the media. I’d advise other young people not to be frightened about following their dreams and give it a go.”
Customer Achievement Star – Doug Cunliffe, 54, from Washacre:
“Washacre FM stands out as a highlight because it gets so many people from the local community involved and together, grows each year and we’ve been able to pass on our knowledge to other communities. I’d like to thank the HACFRA committee; this award owes a lot to their support and efforts.”
Judges Award – Violet Barnard and Richard Smallman:
Richard: “It takes a lot of determination, hard work and sometimes uneasy decision making to take an organisation forward, but that’s what everyone has achieved together and we can be proud.”