Joint Winner - Helen Roberts
Helen Roberts had worked tirelessly all year to promote the encouragement and empowerment of women through the talks she co-led with her husband, Tim Roberts. These affirm the value of women, a theme central to Helen's first book, 'Victorious'.
The annual event, 'Flourish', which she has hosted annually for several years in Watford Palace Theatre, attracted hundreds of women from Watford and throughout the UK. Helen's publications and these events all celebrate and empower women in their own right.
Joint Winner - Erica Tuxworth
Pastor Erica Tuxworth has been rewarded for her work in connection with the Woodside Community Church. Her nominators have said that she works well beyond the call of duty, exceeding 60 hours a week, with a deep passion for her work. She reaches out far into the community and is always available to give help and advice at all hours.
Erica has also taken people to doctors and hospital appointments, visiting them in their homes or in care situations. On top of all of this, Erica runs the Church, undertakes prayer meetings, school visits and outreach activities, gives sermons, leads Bible studies and is governor of two schools.
Chairman's Award for Volunteer of the Year
Winner - Sonja Timme and Monica Lakey of Shopmobility
Sonja Timme and Monika Lakey were rewarded for their long service and dedication to the Shopmobility service. They volunteered for the charity ever since it started in Watford in 1993, so they have been working long into their retirements. Their reliability and enthusiasm has inspired the users of the service and their fellow workers.
They have always undertaken a huge variety of tasks at Shopmobility, ranging from answering phone calls, taking bookings and performing general office duties. Their main strength is the excellent service they give to customers and users. They always pay special attention to disabled customers, helping them to select the best wheelchair or scooter and ensuring that they have the independence to visit anywhere in the Town Centre.
Charitable Group Award
Winner - Holywell YMCA Youth Club
Holywell YMCA Youth Forum has undertaken ground breaking work with young people in Watford. The Forum and its dedicated workers enable young people to make decisions about the activities they engage in, including sports, arts and crafts, cooking and trips. Workshops have included employability, drugs/alcohol and visits from agencies, including Herts Aid on sexual health, internet safety and self-defence.
The project supports young people to connect with others, belonging to a safe and positive peer group, contributing to their community and thriving by accessing mentoring, volunteering or training. The project helps young people to address issues facing their local communities, which encourages them to plan and execute positive community action. This empowers them to develop confidence and skills for their future learning and work, while also demonstrating that young people can be a force for good.
The Club is predominantly accessed by 11-16 year olds, with 69% of attendees from Holywell and 20% from Vicarage wards. Between September 2013 and July 2016, the Club received visits from 1,934 local young people. 478 volunteer hours have supported delivery and this has enabled young volunteers to develop new skills. Young people report that their confidence has increased by an average of 70% since engaging with the Club. In 2015-16 outreach activities engaged 191 young people. 6 young people received mentoring to support challenges, such as employment and self-esteem.
Charitable Business Award
Winner - Corona Energy Ltd
Corona Energy has had an enormous impact on local charities particularly in financial and practical ways. Watford Mencap has had a partnership the company for three years and they have very special praise for the company's depth of commitment. Learning disability is an unfamiliar cause to many people, but Corona Energy have been willing to learn more about it and in 2015 took on an apprentice with learning disabilities, which proved a positive experience for both sides.
Teams of staff have undertaken a series of physical challenges and cake bakes for Watford Mencap, and over three years raised over £10,000 for the charity. Corona Energy has also entered teams in an annual Pancake Race and Pumpkin Dash.
The company's staff have engaged with Mencap clients both young and old. They are "hands on" in a truly inspiring way, that has enriched the lives of people less fortunate than themselves.
They organise an annual Family Fun Day at the charity's Watford Children's Centre, which enables families of children with learning disabilities to socialise in a relaxed atmosphere. They have also arranged trips for children and young people to the Science Museum and have taken groups of adult clients to Whipsnade Zoo and Watford FC, as well as hosting a Christmas Party at one of Watford Mencap's residential homes. Staff members have also organised teams to tend the gardens in the homes.
Charitable Business Award
Runner Up - UD Salon
The UD Salon began life as 'Upstairs Downstairs' on St Albans Road, Watford. Despite being just beyond the Watford boundary, UD Salon is unmistakably a Watford business and attracts most if its clients from the town.
While at St Albans Road, UD Salon's owner, Pam Parmar, regularly engaged in civic campaigns and ran Christmas parties for local children. More recently, she has run the InsideOut project with Watford Women's Centre, raised funds for the Peace Hospice (including abseiling at Intu), been both a Dragon and a Super Dragon for the Dragon's Apprentice Challenge, become a trustee at Watford and Three Rivers Trust, and donated more prizes to charity raffles and auctions than most businesses in Watford.
Sporting Achievement (Individiual) Award
Winner - Briar Thornbury-Snelling
Briar (14 at the time of the Awards) was given the Individual Sporting Achievement Award. She is a maestro of many sports, particularly diving and gymnastics. Almost single headedly she took her school, Francis Combe Academy, to the diving finals. She also won Herts Schools diving 4 years in a row. Coupled with all of this activity and achievement, Briar is a child carer for her mother.
She has dived for 5 years, and in 2016 alone won all 7 Herts ASA County titles, and her then club's 6 Championship titles, despite injuries. She was Herts Schools Champion 3 years in a row, and dived in final at London Aquatics Centre. She was County Age Group Champion three years in a row, the last time winning two weeks after breaking her collar bone. She is also Regional Champion on all boards over the last two years, Silver in Team Challenge 2015, English Grand Prix Champion on two boards, and Irish National Champion on all three boards (dual citizenship). Briar has dived through broken bones, ligament damage and other injuries.
Briar is a Sports Leader at Francis Combe Academy and coaches diving and gymnastics for a range of ages, particularly helping with Primary School events, and has competed for her school in diving, trampolining, athletics and netball; all whilst being in the top sets in school and above targets.
Briar is the only diver in Watford, and has beaten all divers in Hertfordshire, the Region, and Country. She was given the Audentior Award in recognition of her many achievements, her focus and determination and her caring attitude towards others.
Sporting Achivement (Group) Award
Winner - Watford Harriers Community Amateur Sports Club
Stewart Dearman took over as Chair of Watford Harriers after the Club had gone through a year of turmoil. He was able to turn the Club around with the help of his Committee. After this point, considerable improvements were made, such as a shelter for the time keepers and a new structure put in place in the Club. Stewart is often seen at Woodside, repairing items and improving the environment, officiating or coaching, and even competing for the senior team.
He took over the junior middle distance squad and since 2013 the Club has won awards for its prestigious Open Graded meetings, which attract up to 400 athletes up to international level. The Club has been awarded a 'Club Mark' - a much sought-after accreditation by Sports England - for excellence in the way the club is run.
Sporting Achievement (Group) Award
Runner Up - Al Zahra Youth
In 2006 the community lost one of its brightest and most inspiring young people. To all Ali Naqi was a friend, a hard working student, a popular community member, a young scholar, and an inspiration.
In 2006, playing football with friends at the Westfield Community Sports Centre, Ali collapsed and died on the spot. He had suffered from a rare heart condition. His passing away had a profound impact on everyone in the community. However his friends and family were determined to not let his legacy be forgotten.
So, in 2008 the first Ali Naqi Memorial Football Tournament was hosted, bringing together people from across the community in the spirit of sport. The tournament has grown into a major annual community event and is a key date in the Al Zahra Centre calendar - a fitting legacy to a much loved young man. In 2016 the Al Zahra Youth group aimed to take the tournament to a different level by partnering with a local charity and donating money raised from the event.
The centre is very proud of what has been achieved by these young men who organised themselves and created something special. Moreover, their awareness of the importance of community and wanting to use the tournament as a vehicle to help those around them bodes well for the future.
Lewington Price Disability Award
Winner - DRUM
Disability Recreation Unity Movement (DRUM) is a small registered charity, based in Watford, providing day services and support to adults living in South West Hertfordshire who have physical and/or sensory disabilities.
DRUM is a user-led organisation run by a management committee of disabled members and carers, supported by a small and dedicated team of part time staff and volunteers. DRUM helps people, able-bodied or disabled, to live an independent life of quality, filled with happiness, integrity and dignity. The staff at DRUM work ceaselessly to create, explore, evolve in art and movement, encouraging even the quietest and less active members to try new activities. For its members, DRUM plays a vital part in restoring and re-establishing a sense of fairness and equality. DRUM's staff have created a valuable service for local people who have acquired a disability or have a long term condition. This service is vital to maintain members' independence and physical and mental well-being. DRUM also encourages good relationships with local health and social services and always has the needs of its members at heart, creating a safe, friendly and approachable environment.
Within this geographical area there are limited services for disabled people and DRUM provides an unrivalled focus for ongoing therapy and joint working.
Special Achievement Award
Winner - Watford Celebration Committee Members
The first Watford Celebration took place in September 2005 at the Multi-Cultural Community Centre (MCCC) and Littlebury Hall in West Watford. The idea of a Celebration Event was initiated at a meeting between members of many women's, peace and faith groups in Watford. It was decided that the organisations would bring together all the various ethnic, cultural and faith communities in Watford into a day of celebration and friendship.
Since 2005, Watford Celebration has become part of the annual calendar of events in Watford and has gone from strength to strength, with attendance increasing from 2,500 in 2007 to over 4,000 in 2010. In 2016 the event was held in the MCCC, with over 1000 people in attendance.
The success of the Watford Celebration is the result of the dedicated work of a team of volunteers from various organisations, coupled with the generous support and sponsorships from the Harlequin Centre in 2005, the Watford Borough Council, St Michael's Catholic High School, FREdome Visionary Trust, National Lottery Fund Award for All, Herts Fire and Rescue Service, Watford Community Housing Trust, and many more organisations and individuals.