The unsung community heroes of Salford have received the recognition they deserved at a glittering awards ceremony.
Selfless neighbours, inspirational young people and worthwhile community groups were all honoured for their work at the sixth annual Salix Stars Awards organised by social housing provider Salix Homes.
Gongs were handed out in six categories including Good Neighbour Star, Young Rising Star, Best Green Initiative Star, Best Community Project Star, Outstanding Achievement Star and Creativity Star during the ceremony held at the Imperial War Museum, Salford Quays, last Friday.
Green fingered David Oldroyd, 33, from Charlestown, picked up the Best Green Initiative Star in recognition of the integral role he plays in various environmental initiatives across Salford including the Biospheric Project and the Grow in Brought’on community garden.
David said: “It’s just a real shock to have won as I didn’t even expect to be nominated. I do gardening for the love it, so to win an award for it is amazing.”
Lower Kersal Young People’s Group scooped the Creativity Star in honour of their play Keep Calm and Carry On, based on wartime Salford, which they performed at the Lowry Theatre during the summer.
Thomas Lever MBE, who runs the youth group, said: “We are very happy to have won and to win for our play makes it extra special. It was a very emotional play to perform and we just hope we did it justice for the people who came to watch it.”
Inspirational Denise Benson, from Ordsall, won the Good Neighbour Star after being nominated by her grateful neighbours who describe her as ‘one in a million’. Denise takes care of all her elderly neighbours; running errands for them, picking up prescriptions and calling in on them daily to make sure they’re okay.
Denise, 56, also picked up the award last year. She said: “I can’t believe I’ve won again. I just want to thank all the people who voted for me, it’s nice to know I’m doing something right. I really don’t mind when I go out at 5.30am to help out a neighbour, it makes me feel nice and gives me a little buzz.”
Denise’s daughter Danielle picked up the award on her mum’s behalf as she was unable to attend the ceremony. Danielle said: “My mum is an angel; it’s just in her nature to help people.”
The Young Rising Star award went to Megan Worrall, 14, who volunteers at the Beacon Centre where she plays a key role in helping to improve the lives of others. She has launched a buddy system to help young people experiencing difficulty and has been leading the fight against proposed cuts to youth services.
The Disability Focus Group picked up two gongs – the Best Community Project Star and the Outstanding Achievement Star – in recognition of their work to improve the lives of disabled people. The group was set up in 2010 and members act as champions for the disabled.
Salix Homes, which has recently been selected by Salford City Council as the chosen landlord to take ownership of 8,500 council homes in Central Salford, hosts the annual community awards to honour people who are making a real difference to their neighbourhoods.
Joe Willis, chief executive at Salix Homes, said: “We are very proud to host the Salix Stars Award alongside our sponsors and supporters as it gives us the opportunity to recognise all those wonderful people who work tirelessly to improve our communities for the benefit of everyone.
“Salford is home to some genuinely inspiring people, as the many heartwarming stories behind this year’s Salix Stars Awards demonstrate, and we are very proud to call them our customers.
“A massive congratulations to all our winners, and of course to everyone who was nominated. Their hard work and dedication just goes to prove that community spirit is very much alive and well in Salford.”
“I’d like to say a special thank you to all our sponsors, without whom the Salix Stars Awards would not be possible.”
The awards were sponsored by Morrison/Meers, Emanuel Whittaker, Procure Plus, Forrest, Beever and Struthers, Sure Group, Northgate, Seddon Construction Ltd and AON.