PEOPLE who have gone above and beyond to help their communities were honoured at a gala dinner.
The Forest Champions awards were presented by the Forest of Dean Lions Club at a celebration held at the Speech House Hotel last Friday (March 18).
There were three nominees in each of the seven categories: Local Hero, Young Achiever, Innovative Educator, Healthcare, Outstanding Contribution to the Community, Lifetime Achievement and Communty Group.
The first award to be presented was for the Young Achiever which was won by Zara Fogarty for her charity fund-raising work including for the British Legion’s Poppy Appeal.
The other nominees were Connor Halford for his creativity as an art leader and helping fellow students develop their skills and Chloe Tootell for her commitment to Girl Guides and charity work.
The presentation was made by award sponsor Jenny Hughes of Court Farm Garage in Littledean.
She said: “Young people are absolutely, massively important to our future, particularly now.
“These young people have worked so hard and the three young people here have kept going regardless.”
She also said they would continue to support all three nominees.
The nominees for the healthcare award were the Dilke Hospital in-patients team, the Forest Covid vaccination team and the Orchard Trust’s care homes, Hilltop at Ruardean and Offa’s Dyke at Lydbrook.
The Covid team was nominated for its dedication to the vaccination programme with many of the volunteers being healthcare professionals who had come out of rettirement.
The Dilke inpatients were nominated for their personal touch, providing support not only for patients but for their families too.
Staff at the care homes for people with disabilities also went “above and beyond” and often stayed on site for extended periods of time.
After announcing the Covid team as the winners, Richard Thomas, of sponsors Arden Estate Agents, said: “Given the past two years we’ve had, we owe a debt of gratitude for what they have done through the NHS and healthcare service.”
Accepting the Outstanding Contribution award along with Lee Osbourne, Spike Powles of Berry Hill said: “We did things to put a smile on people’s faces but there were a lot of people working hard for the Berry Hill community and I want to dedicate this to a lot of people in Berry Hill.
“It was hard times and everyone pulled together. We take this on behalf of our community because so many people did so many things.”
The other nominees were Yvonne Wood for her work with the Forest Foodbank and Poppy Gee who runs an informative Facebook page for the Forest.
Karen Lougher, from the Palace Cinema in Cinderford who sponsored the award, said: “We’re really pleased to support this award in recognition of everybody who has really pulled out the stops through Covid and helped in every way they can through these difficult times.”
Her husband, Andy, added: “It’s amazing that when you get a period of adversity, people rise to the occasion.
“People pull out the stops and do things they don’t need to do and they help people all round their community.
“That’s what a community is, that’s what keeps people together in any situation.”
The winner of the Innovative Educator award was Heather Davies, who has travels around the county speaking to young people about the dangers of reckless driving.
In 2013, her 19-year-old daughter, Leanne, was killed in a road collision.
The other nominees were Wendy Bolton for her dedication to providing training for staff at the Orchard Trust during the pandemic and the Cinderford campus of Gloucestershire College for outstanding support of students and adapting ways of working.
Sponsor Peter Hands of the Speech House Hotel said it had been a difficult decision and “sadly, there can be only one winner.”
The nominees for the community award – which was sponsored by Cathy Andrews and the Orchard Trust – were the Lydney Hub, Saz Davies of the charity Together We Can and Jason Brown of the Forest Upcycling Project.
Lydney Hub was declared the winner for “it’s outstanding commitment to young people throughout the pandemic, being very aware of the mental health issues and the effect it has had on young people and how it has impacted on their lives and making sure they had activities throughout the pandemic.”
Mr Brown was nominated for his work with the community furniture recycling project, particularly during times of flooding.
The work of Together We Can, which works with young people with disabilities, led to the nomination of Saz Davies.
The winner of the Local Hero award was decided by Lions president Lynne Gardner who said it had been “extremely difficult” to pick our one winner.
The nominees were Jane Trout, who saved a man’s life by performing CPR until paramedics arrived.
Mark Smith waded into rising flood water to rescue a woman who had climbed onto the roof of her car.
Dan Jury and Dave Hooper help vulnerable members of the community during bad weather and towing stranding people our of flood water.
Announcing Jane Trout as the winner, the president said: “The depth of community spirit and feeling in the Forest is like no other and picking a winner was incredibly difficult.”
The nominees for the Lifetime Achievement award were founder of the Orchard Trust George Gordon-Smith, Roger Gardner for his services to Scouting and founder of the Forest of Dean Gymnastics Club Lynn Hammersley.
The regional Chair of the Lions, Glyn Williams presented the award to George Gordon-Smith for his work with the Lydbrook-based charity.
Mr Williams said: “This gentleman has dedicated his life to people with learning disabilities.
“When he started the Orchard Trust he had £10 in a biscuit tin and two volunteers.”
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