A North Hykeham resident passionate about building community spirit, a mental health ambassador, and an octogenarian turning in a couple of hours’ hard labour every day to keep a bowls club running were among the winners at the annual NK Community Champion Awards.
The ceremony held this week at Doddington Hall saw 110 people come together to champion the contributions made by 36 finalists across 12 categories. After almost 100 community-based nominations, a panel of judges selected three finalists and an ultimate winner in each category.
The awards presentation was hosted by High Sheriff of Lincolnshire Claire Birch, at her Doddington Hall home, and it was compered by BBC Radio Lincolnshire’s Melvyn Prior.
Chris Banks from Sleaford won the Good Neighbour award for showing continued consideration for his neighbours over a prolonged period and inspiring a new generation in thoughtful kind actions.
Riley Pickwell from Sleaford won the Young Achiever Award for instigating, at the age of 19, a new football club, establishing two teams and a new ground in support of enhanced mental health matters and active lifestyles.
Natalie Mason from Sleaford won the Contribution to Art award for investing countless hours and personal expense over and above her paid work in transforming the William Alvey School’s air raid shelter into a community museum.
John Davies from Metheringham won the Contribution to Sport award for investing countless hours, day in, day out, month in, year out in green keeping, maintenance and general duties to ensure the successful operation of Metheringham Bowls Club.
Thomas Dunning from Waddington won the Contribution to Health & Wellbeing award. As a mental health ambassador Tom is active in sharing his own mental health experiences in the hope of opening up dialogue and promoting access to support. Thomas was also named as one of the rising stars in The Lincolnite’s 30 Under 30 in 2021.
Roberta Bray from Ruskington won the Contribution to a Better Environment award for her active promotion of wide-ranging environmental measures, not least the Plastic Free Sleaford community she instigated and promotes with great passion.
Benjamin Willetts from Skellingthorpe won the Contribution to Climate Action award for his carbon-conscious approach to growing organically in a manner which captures carbon, promotes enhanced soil-health, greater biodiversity and personal wellbeing.
Manor Farm Shops in Leasingham won the Community Business award for operating in a community-minded way across five generations, most notably in stepping up and continuing with a pandemic response to protect and provide for customers.
Helen Zealand from Sleaford won the Longstanding Contribution to a Group or Organisation award. This marked her 25th anniversary of dedicated leadership of Scouting in Sleaford, co-ordinating activities, planning and supporting other leaders.
Dunston Yarn Bomb won the Contribution to Community Safety award for initiating a creative approach to raising funds and awareness of domestic abuse, opening up dialogue and creating confidence for victims to reach out for support.
Mark Reynolds from North Hykeham won the Community Spirit award. He is a life-long resident of North Hykeham, passionate about building community spirit and cohesion through events, adding colour and enthusing a broader volunteer response.
Sage Gardener at Eagle Hall won the Coronavirus Response award for the way in which the core group and volunteers committed to improvements in health and wellbeing, including mechanisms to ensure inclusivity, befriending and therapeutic provision.
Finalists also included an eight-year-old girl who spontaneously delivered creme eggs and flowers to her neighbours to bring some lockdown cheer, and volunteers championing heritage at the International Bomber Command Centre.
Council leader, Councillor Richard Wright, said: “These awards are our small way of turning the spotlight on the selfless many who contribute so much to making our lives so much richer in North Kesteven.
“Against the ongoing uncertainties of the pandemic, it was important to us to maintain a celebration of community endeavour, ensuring that those who continue to make our district such a special place to live are not overlooked or forgotten.
“Our 36 finalist and further nominees are representative of a huge many more, who – without a thought for themselves – freely give thousands of hours for others in our district.
“From spearheading, coordinating and fulfilling phenomenal responses in the face of the pandemic; combatting loneliness in the lockdown, initiating climate action, championing better mental health; spending years motivating young people and sports enthusiasts and; raising the profile of community safety.”
Community-minded businesses invested their enthusiasm and financial commitment to make the awards possible, with some loyally contributing through the 11 years of Community Champions. This year they are: Ringrose Law, Duncan & Toplis, Lincs Inspire, BETTER, Branston Ltd, Doddington Hall & Gardens, Sleaford Renewable Energy Plant / Greencoat Capital, Banks Long & Co, Your Local Lincs Magazine, the office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, Lindum Group and North Kesteven District Council.
BBC Radio Lincolnshire, the Sleaford Standard and The Lincolnite provided additional support, with further input from Peachy Events, Chris Vaughan Photography and Bright Spark Studios.