Congratulations to this years award winners!
All of our winners have been announced and honoured and here they are; check out their stories and interviews below.
The West Sussex Lifetime Dedication Award- Les Garrett
Sponsored by The Royal British Legion.
A London boy, he was evacuated to Bognor in 1939. He promptly joined Felpham Sea Scouts and then lied about his age in order to join the Home Guard to serve his Queen and Country: He was just 14. Les went on to join the Royal Marines and then at 5.42am on June 6, 1944, found himself serving on HMS Diadem off Beny-sur-Mer on Juno Beach on the Normandy coast.
He and his shipmates went 52 hours without sleep as they trained their gun on German ships up to 13.5 miles away and at Nazi aircraft 35,000ft in the air. The light cruiser fired 3,826 shells between June 6 and 29 and survived an attack by six enemy aircraft at 11pm on D-Day.
Les was a Chichester High School for Boys pupil and he still has strong links to the school where he returns regularly to read war poetry to the students. He also has battled cancer for the last 14 years.
I could go on all day talking about this tremendous man but I think the best way to get across just how special he is to quote him.
“The real heroes are those men who died on the beaches. We fought for freedom and they died for freedom and that’s why people are grateful for the freedom we enjoy today.” Such a modest man!
And he truly is, when he found out that he would be receiving this award he wanted it to be known that he would accept it on behalf of his fallen comrades, of all those who served and all who continue to serve – to keep our Country safe and free.
The Child of Achievement Award- Lewis Edwards
Sponsored by Wizard Windows
With the spirit of a true athlete, he is one incredible talent. Overcoming the challenge of a neurological disease and being in a wheel chair, he has risen through the ranks to win several ‘Golds’ not only in discus and shot putt, but also javelin.
Lewis has also represented the South of England in wheelchair basketball and has been asked to join the Elite Academy, which means that he’ll be even closer to joining Team GB. Oh, and did I mention that Lewis is just 16 years of age?!
The Volunteer of the Year Award- Pat Dillon
Sponsored by The Hyde Group
He is a Town Councillor who works tirelessly on behalf of Bognor’s Poorest residents, he volunteers at Bognor’s Community Action Network, the Local Heritage Trust, the Bognor Lions AND The Alexandra Theatre where he will do whatever is needed of him.
Nominated by Hazel Latus who says ‘ I learnt very quickly from his many fans, charities and organisations, that he has been an inspiration to many. A huge hearted man who has a real ‘can do’ attitude’.
The Bravery Award- Issey Riley
Sponsored by Frosts for Cars
Last year Issey Riley was diagnosed with Medulloblastoma, a very aggressive brain tumour. Within 24 hours she underwent a successful operation but Issey remained very poorly. Weak from the operation this incredibly brave girl faced gruelling weeks of radiotherapy, suffering terrible pain, burns and she lost her hair. She is now undergoing a 48 week chemotherapy treatment plan.
All this and at just 7 years of age..... Whilst most 7 year olds are enjoying school and running around the playground with friends, Issey has been faced with so much pain and anxiety but faced it with a smile and never complained.
Neighbour of the Year Award- Margaret Bristow
Sponsored by Barratt Homes
When Margaret’s neighbours Peggy and George Jefferies moved in 10 years ago, they all became great friends, but sadly George passed away 7 years ago. Before he died he asked Margaret to look after Peggy. They became like sisters and even took down part of the fence in order to have better access to each other!
3 Years ago Peggy was diagnosed with cancer and Margaret kept her promise to George. Peggy wanted to die at home so Margaret did everything to make this possible, constantly available to care for her. Peggy died in January, leaving behind her best friend. Margaret doesn’t see herself as exceptional; it was simply because she loved Peggy.
The Charity Fundraiser Award- Nathan Abbott
Sponsored by Helen Gagan Solicitors
Nathan was born with a severe bi lateral cleft lip and palate. Despite a year of home schooling due to bullying, and needing to care for his mum who had a brain haemorrhage, he began swimming to help alleviate his anxiety and panic attacks. It wasn't long before he used his skills to raise funds for Smile Train, a charity that trains surgeons in the poorest of countries to repair cleft lips and palates.
Last year Nathan successfully swam 15 miles of the river Arun in a race against the tide and raised an extra £5,000 for Smile Train; enough for 30 children to have surgery and to able to smile. In her nomination Mum Stephanie said ‘An Incredible young man who is a true inspiration to others. My Hero’.
The Carer of the Year Award- Mark Behr and Sophie Wilson
Sponsored by Westergate House Care Home
Marks grandmother was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2012, so he and his girlfriend Sophie moved in to help Mark’s grandfather Wally, who himself had dementia, to care for her. Sadly she died later that year. Since then Mark and Sophie have held down full time jobs, rotating their hours so someone is always at home with Wally. He seldom sleeps much at night, so they have little rest. He thinks that his home is somewhere he is holidaying. He forgets, every day, that his parents and wife are dead and that he is retired.
We can only imagine how heartbreaking this must be to experience day in day out. They cook, clean and care for Wally, taking him out to stimulate his mind, loving him just as much as they ever did.
The Sports Achievement Award- Peter Chittenden
Sponsored by Sainsburys
To his family, 75 year old Peter Chittenden is known as a Legend, a keen runner with a huge haul of medals. Since 2011 he has been fighting prostate cancer, which has spread to his bones. Since diagnosis, he runs 2-3 times a week and has completed in 200 races with the Tone Zone Runners Club, including 27 races this year alone and still has time to care for his wife Betty.
One nomination said ‘it is an honour to have him as a friend, if there were more people like Peter, the world would be a better place.'
The 999 Emergency Services Award- Martin Funnell
Sponsored by Worthing Theatres
Even though Martin was not on duty on the day in question, when he saw a boy fall out of a car with very severe third degree burns Martin provided first aid at the scene and took the boy to the nearest fire station where the air ambulance crew took over.
But Martins influence doesn't stop there.... In his spare time he also runs the 4th Littlehampton Scout Group who have raised over £20,000 for renovations and an indoor climbing frame. In his nomination son, Josh said “He is the quintessential example of an amazing Role Model. An amazing Firefighter, an incredible Group Scout Leader and a brilliant Dad”
The Community Hero Award- Angela Blackwell
Sponsored by ASAP Removals
Every Community needs an Angela Blackwell. Giving up her spare time to helping others is a massive part of her life. She runs a local youth group twice a week and is heavily involved in Chichester’s boys club. A recent project for Angela was renovating a beach hut to create a place of tranquillity and safety for the young people of Chichester.
This is merely scratching the surface of what Angels does and the dedication she shows. Organising ‘Shoe Shines’ at Goodwood events to raise money and Volunteering at Tangmere Youth club and community gardens. The list goes on.....
Sylvia King says: 'Angela has touched the hearts of many and has made their lives more bearable. An inspiration to us all.'
The Inspiration to Others Award- Louisa Winslade
Sponsored by Ontrack Groundwork
Louisa Winslade was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis and became a Snowdrop child when the Charity first started in 1993, she was 10 years old.
She missed much schooling because of her illness and by the age of 20 she was so ill she couldn’t walk across a room. She was on 24 hour oxygen and was told she would die if a transplant didn’t take place. Louisa had a DOUBLE lung transplant eight years ago... which could be rejected at any time.
For this incredible lady, that knowledge didn't get her down. Within 6 months of having the transplant Louisa decided to have a go at climbing Mount Snowdon, then she ran the London Marathon. And we are fairly sure that she is only double lung transplantee to do so. Heavily involved in charity events, Louisa is also a carer for her mother who has heath problems herself.
The Teacher of the Year Award- Angela Gilmour
Sponsored by The University of Chichester.
According to ALL of her pupils, Mrs Gilmour inspires the girls like no other. Here are some quotes for her pupils: “She always puts us before herself”... “A great sense of humour” ... “Helps with Charity fundraising and always builds my confidence” ... “We can talk to her about anything” ... “We all love her”.
The girls also told us that Angela has a son who has Muscular Dystrophy and as hard as it must be to juggle caring for a disabled child and full time work, you will never see Mrs Gilmour without a smile. If that wasn’t enough, she also is a keen fundraiser for the Make a Wish Foundation charity.
The Parent of the Year Award- Nicola Roots
Sponsored by Knight Fencing
Now, if I were to say ‘Molly’s Wish’ I am hoping that it may ring some bells. Molly is a smiley bright three year old, who has Cerebral Palsy,
There is a life-changing operation only available in Missouri (USA) and for Molly this surgery could mean the difference between life in a wheelchair or being able to walk independently. This surgery, however will cost the family £50,000.
Luckily for Molly, she has one incredibly determined Mum in Nicola Roots. The fundraising began in earnest to raise the money and still continues with various events throughout the County.
Then we must take into account that Nicola herself needs urgent medical attention: In the next 12 months she must to have a kidney transplant. In his nomination Carl Carter says: “She is an inspiration to us all”.
The Local Hero Awards 2014 is sponsored by Checkatrade.com