The fifth annual Unsung Heroes Awards, organised by the Community Foundation Wakefield District, returned as a live event on Friday 1st October.
This special evening of celebration within the stunning backdrop of Wakefield Cathedral, recognised the outstanding contributions made by volunteers from across the Wakefield District.
From the many nominees received, 11 were shortlisted and invited to the awards, hosted by TV personality Harry Gration. The individual achievements of the nominees were celebrated through a series of short films and enjoyed by the 250 guests attending the evening.
At the end of the night two special awards were given, including the People’s Choice Award, where members of the public were asked to vote for their favourite nominee. Over 2,000 votes were registered and Michelle Grainger won with almost 25% of the votes. Since 2011, Michelle Grainger has raised £94,100 for the Prince of Wales Hospice, in memory of her father. Michelle organises several annual events in the community to raise money and she has also introduced ‘Star Jars’ which inspires children to fill a jar with loose change; these alone have raised over £10,000.
The final award for the Overall Winner, was decided upon by the awards panel and presented to Helen Richardson. Helen is described as a community powerhouse. As well as running Little Legs Playgroup, and founding and running the Hemsworth Food Pantry foodbank, she runs a couple of very active Facebook community groups. Helen is also on the committee of Hemsworth Springfield Community Allotment Club and works closely with organisations like Bag Fairies and The Embrace Project to help out struggling local families. She has also set up a group for all the Wakefield area food banks to coordinate and help each other out when they have shortages or a surplus of food.
At the end of the evening the Chairman of the Community Foundation, David Dinmore, thanked all those who had made the event possible, including headline sponsors, We are Wakefield, and other local businesses for their sponsorship and donated raffle and auction prizes.
Commenting after the event Helen Richardson said: “Thank you so much for a beautiful evening, it really was just amazing. I am well and truly overwhelmed at the response I’ve received through comments and messages. I feel so privileged to have taken the overall winner when I was up against so many fantastic nominees doing such amazing work in the Wakefield Communities.”