Express & Echo editor Jon-Paul Hedge described how touched he was by the brilliance of people across the city at the annual Express & Echo 'Pride of Exeter' awards that were held at Sandy Park.
On a night of celebration put on by the city's main newspaper, Hedge said he was delighted that his organisation was able to reward the achievements of some many from across the city.
He said: “Of all the things we do at the Echo, this has to be my favourite. We have been working hard behind the scenes over the past few weeks to make sure we have a wonderful night lined up for all concerned.
“As the entries and nominations flooded in we have been touched by just how brilliant some people in our city are. I can’t wait to celebrate with them.”
At a glitzy ceremony, co-hosted by Monty Halls who said he was moved to tears by the stories of courage and heroism featured on the night. the unsung heroes of the local community were honoured in a variety of different categories
The winners were:
Environmental Hero of the Year – Benjamin Sainsbury.
He said: “It’s really good to win. I like helping the environment and supporting it.”
Community Group of the Year – Park Life Heavitree
Matt Jones said: “I’m completely shocked. A big thank you to the amazing community in Heavitree.”
Teacher of the Year – joint winners – Bee Hughes of Maynard School and Kathie Matthews
Mrs Hughes said: “I’m proud to serve one of the greatest schools in Exeter and to represent women who work very hard to be excellent and heroic in all they do. I dedicate this award to Maynard School staff and the beloved students of Exeter.
Young Hero of the Year – all winners Frankie Vialls, Yasmin Western, Bradley Oliver, Sadie Horler and Harrison Lynn
Yasmin said: “I’m shaking so much I might cause an earthquake! I would like to say on behalf of all of us thank you to everyone who supports us every day.”
Family award – Tom Coe’s family.
Armed Forces Award – Paul Vice.
He said: “I’m just an average guy doing average stuff with on leg. I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro last month; Don’t do it. The mountain is off the chart. Next year I’m going to the North Pole. Is anyone in?”
Charity of the Year - Hospiscare
Kate Few-Singh, director of income generation at Hospiscare, said: “It is our volunteers and you as a community who support our charity and we really need you as it makes such a difference to the lives and families of those we care for. It’s a real honour and I’m really, really proud.”
Hero of the Year – Martin Lynn
Martin said: “That was a surprise. There’s been some great stories tonight and I’m very humbled to be sat with amazing people from all walks of life.”
City Ambassador – Gina Awad
Gina said: “I can’t believe it. I have done a lot stuff but this is really about people with dementia. I’m here for people with dementia who are frightened to say what they have to say. “
Outstanding contribution to Exeter award – Dream-A-Way’s Jeff Merrett and Gill Freeman.
Dream-A-Way volunteer June Hutchings said: “On behalf of the Dream-a-way team thank you very, very much. We work tirelessly and it’s all done through volunteers. We don’t claim any expenses. Dream-a-way brings a lot of pleasure and all the money goes to the charity.”
Editors Lifetime Achievement Award – Richard Atkins.
Mr Atkins said: “I’m very surprised, very proud and very honoured to be here and accept this.”