Local heroes honoured at 2017 Stars of the Stokes awards

Photo of all the finalists at the 2017 Stars of the Stokes Awards presentation evening.

Heroes from across the local area were honoured at a glittering presentation evening held at the DoubleTree by Hilton Bristol North Hotel on Friday 16th June.

Hosted by ‘Voice of the Balls’ and Strictly Come Dancing announcer Alan Dedicoat, the event recognised the outstanding community engagement and/or personal achievements of 18 finalists who had been nominated for the 2017 Stars of the Stokes Awards.

Star Teacher Award
Sponsored by Dunkley’s Chartered Accountants
Other finalists in this category: Julie Barnett and Tracey Foster

Young Hero Award
Presented by DoubleTree by Hilton Bristol North

Champion Carer Award
Sponsored by Tesco Extra Bradley Stoke

Pre-School Carer Award
Sponsored by Almondsbury Garden Centre
Other finalists in this category: Claire Hampton and Max Gallagher

Parent/Guardian in a Million Award
Sponsored by Olympus Academy Trust
Other finalists in this category: Claire Crouch, Rachel Hollyman

Coach of the Year Award
Sponsored by Carisway Facilities Support
Other finalists in this category: Charlotte Jones and Joanna Nowak

Achievement Against the Odds Award
Sponsored by Holiday Inn Bristol Filton

Unsung Hero Award
Sponsored by Aztec Hotel & Spa
Other finalists in this category: Janine Smith and Dave Nash

Star Teacher Award

Photo of Mandi Mulley receiving her award.

Photo (l-r): Nicole Crompton (Dunkley’s Chartered Accountants), Joanne Bruce (Dunkley’s), Mandi Mulley (winner of the Star Teacher Award), Alan Dedicoat (event host), Julie Scotney (Dunkley’s) and Kirsty Liley (Dunkley’s).

Mandi has taught at Little Stoke Primary school for 15 years and, as a result, has excellent relationships with pupils (past and present) and parents alike.

She also has strong ties to the local community and is well regarded by all.

Described by nominators as “amazing” and “fantastic”, she often goes over and above what is expected of her in her role and has a natural rapport with children of all ages. Most recently, she played a key role in the school achieving the Leading Parent Partnership Award, recognising the excellent communication and engagement with parents, carers and grandparents.

Young Hero Award

Photo of Kyra Morley receiving her award.

Photo (l-r): Ahad Vahabzadeh (DoubleTree by Hilton Bristol North), Kyra Morley (winner of the Young Hero Award) and Alan Dedicoat (event host).

Kyra volunteers at the kids’ club at Christ the King Church every week, and always has a friendly smile and sympathetic ear to the 30 children who attend.

She also provides support to a local family where the mum is suffering from postnatal depression and so she will babysit the little one so that the mum and dad can have some time to themselves.

She gives up time each month to run a Sunday morning club and raises money for several worthy causes.

All very impressive for a 15-year-old girl, however, she does all of this whilst suffering herself from severe anxiety. She has been described as “a wonderful young teenager who is taking on her own demons by helping others”.

Champion Carer Award

Photo of Corey Chadha receiving his award.

Photo (l-r): Sarah Wheatley (Bradley Stoke Tesco Extra), Alan Dedicoat (event host) and Corey Chadha (winner of the Champion Carer Award).

Ten-year-old Corey supports his mum, a single parent, in caring for his older brother who is severely autistic. He has, in effect, become the ‘man of the house’.

Despite his brother’s condition, meaning that the family cannot have many of the experiences a young boy may expect, he has never complained, and has begun to play an increasing role in his brother’s care.

He constantly defends his brother, and his mum describes him as her rock and her shoulder to cry on as well as the one to always cheer her up. Despite the situation at home, he has continued to progress well at school. And now that his brother lives many miles away in a residential college, Corey makes the long journey with his mum every other weekend to bring his brother home.

Pre-School Carer Award

Photo of Jessica Stone receiving her award.

Photo (l-r): Stephen Horton (Bradley Stoke Journal, on behalf of Almondsbury Garden Centre), Jessica Stone (winner of the Pre-School Carer of the Year Award) and Alan Dedicoat (event host).

Jessica voluntarily runs baby and toddler groups in Bradley Stoke on three mornings a week.

She spends her evenings and weekends preparing crafts and other activities for the 180 children she sees each week.

She is also a great support to the mothers of the children and will always be there for them if they need a friendly face. Many mothers in Bradley stoke say they would be lost without her. She has been described as a “star” and “an amazing person who gives so much to her local community”.

Parent/Guardian in a Million Award

Photo of Samantha Bigwood receiving her award.

Photo (l-r): Mike Turney (Olympus Academy Trust), Samantha Bigwood (winner of the Parent/Guardian in a Million Award) and Alan Dedicoat (event host).

Samantha is a single parent with three children, two of whom have additional needs. In recent months, she has suffered a bleed on the brain, undergone heart surgery and experienced bereavement in her family, yet she still strives to do the best for her children.

In the words of one nominator, “She is one of those people who seem to always do for others and never for herself. She does have her bad days, like everyone else, but she gets up the next day and keeps moving forward. She is an amazing spirit and she is an amazing mum regardless of what happens to her.”

Coach of the Year Award

Photo of Martin Lee receiving his award.

Photo (l-r): Cllr Andy Ward (on behalf of Carisway Facilities Support), Martin Lee (winner of the Coach of the Year Award) and Alan Dedicoat (event host).

Martin has been a volunteer with Bradley Stoke Town FC and Bradley Stoke Youth FC for years, indeed since they were formed.

He has voluntarily coached various teams, from 6-year-olds to adults, and spends a lot of time fundraising for the club.

On top of this, he has run the Bradley Stoke Youth FC Schools’ Festival of Football almost single-handedly for many years.

In the words of one nominator, “The club can never thank him enough for all of the work he has done for us over the years.”

Achievement Against the Odds Award

Photo of Bailey Cooper receiving his award.

Photo (l-r): Tracey Channing-Cone (Holiday Inn Bristol Filton), Bailey Cooper (winner of the the Achievement Against The Odds Award) and Alan Dedicoat (event host).

Bailey, just eight years old, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a type of cancer, in October last year.

Since then, he has spent many months in hospital and been through four rounds of chemotherapy.

He now wants to try and raise money for the hospital that treated him so well.

His many nominators described him as “incredibly brave”, “a hero” and “inspirational”, and several remarked on how he kept smiling and retained his cheeky sense of humour throughout his ordeal.

More photos: Stars of the Stokes Awards 2017 (Facebook)

Comment by Andy Wynn, manager of the Willow Brook Centre

As I reflect on the 2017 Stars of the Stokes, following the presentation evening where we recognised 18 local heroes, I find it slightly hard to get my head around the success of these awards. My team and I put a lot of work into pulling them together and the result was an inspiring evening recognising local people who do amazing things. As I said on the night, the world can be a scary place these days, but hearing some of the stories of our nominees makes me think that the world is still basically a good place.

I had the pleasure of talking to a number of the winners during the evening. A common thread that emerged was that they do not think of themselves as doing anything special. These are ordinary people who either go out of their way to help others, or the community, or face daily challenges of their own with courage. It was touching how appreciative they were, not only for having been nominated, but also of the awards and the evening itself. It was also touching how many of the nominees who joined us took the time to talk about the other nominees and how inspiring they are.

Photo of Andy Wynn speaking at the presentation evening.

Photo: Andy Wynn, manager of the Willow Brook Centre.

These awards give us as a community a chance to say “thank you” to our community heroes and to those who inspire us. My job for the night was running the Stars of the Stokes Facebook page, posting live updates as the awards were given out. This put me in a position at the front of the room, with the winners and other finalists walking towards me on their way to collect their awards. Above all else, what made Stars of the Stokes special for me was seeing the faces of our winners as they made their way forward to the stage. In particular, Corey Chadha (Winner – Champion Carer) and Martin Lee (Winner – Coach of the Year) were both clearly surprised, delighted and even overwhelmed to have won. I will remember the look on each of their faces for a long time.

As I say, my colleagues at Willow Brook Centre put a lot of work into delivering these awards. However, without the support of the our key partners, Bradley Stoke Journal and DoubleTree by Hilton Bristol North, and our sponsors, Tesco Extra, Holiday Inn Bristol Filton, Aztec Hotel and Spa, Carisway Support Services, Olympus Academy Trust, Almondsbury Garden Centre and Dunkley’s Chartered Accountants, the awards would not have been possible, and so I would like to thank them again for their help and support.

Finally, congratulations to the winners and to all of those who were shortlisted. As I said on the night, you may think you are “nothing special” or “just doing your job” but you were invited to join us at the awards after local people nominated you and told our judges about you. I hope that you enjoy the recognition; you’ve earned it!

This article originally appeared in the July/August 2017 issue of the Bradley Stoke Journal news magazine (on pages 2 to 5). The magazine is delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH, to 9,500 homes in Bradley Stoke, Little Stoke and Stoke Lodge. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.

POSTSCRIPT: Katherine Robinson (winner of the Unsung Hero Award) was unable to attend the presentation evening, but received her award from Andy Wynn (manager of the Willow Brook Centre) at a later date.

Unsung Hero Award

photo of Katherine Robinson receiving her award.

Photo (l-r): Katherine Robinson (winner of the Unsung Hero Award) and Andy Wynn (Willow Brook Centre).

Katherine gives up so much of her time to local scouting. She runs a Badger Scout section and recently established the 1st Bradley Stoke Scout Group’s new marching band.

She also organises the Scout group’s annual Remembrance Sunday parade in Bradley Stoke.

In the words of one nominator, “Katherine (a.k.a ‘Woody’) has had such a positive impact in the lives of young people through Scouts in the Stokes area.”

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