The annual Stars of the Stokes Awards, hosted by actor Shaun Williamson, took place on Friday 15th June at the Aztec Hotel & Spa. The sparkling red-carpet event, now in its third year, recognises and rewards the achievements of members of our local community who either go out of their way to help others, or who face daily challenges of their own.
Nominations are invited from people living in the Almondsbury, Bradley Stoke, Patchway, Stoke Lodge, Little Stoke, Stoke Gifford, Frampton Cotterell and Winterbourne areas for one of eight categories including: Coach of the Year, Achievement Against the Odds, Star Teacher, Champion Carer, Parent/Guardian in a Million, Unsung Hero, Pre-School Carer and The Bailey Cooper Award for Young Heroes.
Andy Wynn, manager of the Willow Brook Centre, who created and managed the event, said:
“We received some truly fantastic nominations so choosing a winner for each category wasn’t easy. It’s humbling to know that we have such brilliant, selfless people in our local community, who prove themselves to be wholly deserving of the recognition bestowed by these awards.”
Last year, nine-year-old Bailey Cooper won the Achievement Against the Odds award for his bravery and spirit in battling non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Sadly, Bailey died on Christmas Eve and so a new category was created in his honour this year and his parents, Rachel and Lee, very proudly presented this award.
The event was supported by the Bradley Stoke Journal, Aztec Hotel & Spa, First Bus, Tesco Extra, Olympus Academy Trust, Carisway Facilities Support, Honeyfield Property Services and DoubleTree by Hilton Bristol North.
Coach of the Year Award • Winner: Phil Whitlock
Phil is a dedicated and inspiring Taekwondo instructor who runs classes in Patchway and Stoke Gifford. He is described as a fun coach who commands respect from his students, supporting everyone patiently and instilling confidence. Phil is described as a valued role model, not only through his sport, but also by encouraging positive life-skills. Last winter, he worked with his students to collect clothes and supplies for the homeless in Bristol. Phil wants to thank everyone who wrote in on his behalf. He described the evening as an amazing and really cool event celebrating really cool people who he was glad to have had the opportunity to meet and hang out with. He had a brilliant night!
Champion Carer Award • Winner: Carla Golledge
Carla has a son, Cameron, who has significant physical and learning difficulties. She spends her time caring for him and her other children whilst raising money for charities who support other families going through similar issues. Carla and her partner Adam have created a sensory garden at their Bradley Stoke home to provide a safe, accessible and stimulating environment for Cameron to enjoy and where the family can relax together. Full details of the garden can be read in the Journal’s September 2017 edition or on our website.
Carla told the Journal that she was shocked to have won the award as she does no more than any other parent to get the best for her child. She said that it was great to be acknowledged and that she had a brilliant evening.
Bailey Cooper Award for Young Heroes • Winner Lauren Bennetts
Lauren, a Leader in Training with Girlguiding, is a dedicated volunteer with the 1st Bradley Stoke Rainbows. She first began helping with the Rainbows in 2013 at the age of 14, completing her Young Leader Qualification in 2015. In addition to attending weekly Rainbow meetings, Lauren also attends leaders’ meetings, plans and runs activities and helps the adult leadership team with administrative tasks. She gives up her time at weekends to help with trips and overnight events. As well as working so hard with the Rainbows, Lauren also helps her parents to support her older sister who has experienced some challenges with her health.
Lauren, who lives in south Bradley Stoke, told the Journal that it was such an honour to be nominated and to win was totally unexpected considering the amazing achievements of the people in her category.
Pre-School Carer of the Year Award • Winner: Kaylie Hill
Kaylie is a registered childminder working from her home in south Bradley Stoke. She was nominated by one of the families she provides day care for, who describe her as “an absolute star”. Kaylie has cared for their little boy, who has additional health needs, for three years since he was eighteen months old. Nothing is ever too much trouble for Kaylie and she loves and treats this little boy as one of her own.
Kaylie told the Journal that being nominated for her role has been lovely. She told us that childminders often have to jump through lots of hoops and do the job because they love it, not for reward or recognition. Winning the award has been a great boost for Kaylie and for the caring and supportive role played by childminders.
Unsung Hero Award • Winner: Adrian Clover
Ade Clover, with his wife, Sarah, has been praised for creating a safe haven for the community and animals at The Viaduct Animal Sanctuary in Coalpit Heath. Ade volunteers there seven days a week rescuing and rehoming hundreds of animals every year. Not only does he “get up before the rooster” every morning to look after the animals, he provides a safe haven for young and not so young people with learning difficulties to feel appreciated by spending time with the animals. He provides work experience opportunities and runs busy days of activities including taking animals to local schools, care homes and youth groups. Ade is described as a truly inspirational character.
Achievement Against the Odds Award • Winner: Olivia Watkins
Olivia Watkins, who lives with Downs Syndrome, was praised by her colleagues at DoubleTree by Hilton restaurant in Bradley Stoke for working with passion and pride delivering a four star hotel experience for guests. Olivia joined the staff at the Hilton in August last year having previously worked for four years in the kitchens at Wheatfield Primary School. She also works part-time in the kitchens at UWE but it is her job in the DoubleTree restaurant which she enjoys the most.
Olivia attended New Siblands School in Thornbury and Foxes Academy in Minehead where she was encouraged to learn the necessary skills to be able to live an independent life and develop a career path. Olivia does not allow her disability to get in her way. She told the Journal: “I’ve got to get on with my life.” She described the evening as “amazing” and loved the opportunity to dress up and meet so many inspirational people.
Parent/Guardian in a Million Award • Winner: Liz Evans
Liz was nominated by her sister for the tremendous support she has given to her 16-year-old niece who suffers from severe anxiety and depression. Despite having children of her own to care for, Liz has stepped in to help with the daily support and care her niece needs by taking her to and from school, supporting her timetable, dealing with her panic attacks and counselling her when she is particularly down. The family do not know what they would have done without Liz’s support.
Star Teacher Award • Joanna Duffy
Joanna Duffy has been praised by colleagues for her outstanding and passionate effort to help children, families and staff at Almondsbury Primary School, as well as supporting other teachers working with children with special educational needs. She provides a huge support to youngsters with special needs and is taking part in the Three Peaks Challenge this summer to help raise money to build a sensory room to help children at the school and local community groups. Joanna is described as being passionate in giving children with special needs the help and support they need to be the best they can be.
Reflections on the 2018 Awards, by Andy Wynn of the Willow Brook Centre
A couple of days before the Stars of the Stokes Awards night, I was speaking with a colleague, reflecting on the 2018 nominees and those from previous years. We realised that we have had more than 300 nominations over the three years that we have run the awards. Three hundred people who inspire others, who make a difference in their community and who make people’s lives better on a daily basis. We have read so many stories of inspiring teachers, parents who have battled against obstacles and young people who inspire the adults who know them. It is always easy for us to focus on the problems with our society, on the issues that worry us or the repetitively negative news cycle. The thing is, it’s bad news that is ‘interesting’, that we remember, that we talk about in the playground and in the staff room. It is in this context that my colleagues and I, with the support of our sponsors, are so proud of the success that Stars of the Stokes has become. We have had three years of recognising those people in our community who deserve recognition and who often fly under the radar. The people who we have read about, met and rewarded are generally people who play down what they do, who think to themselves “I am nothing special”. The rest of us know that they are wrong; these are the heroes of our community, they are the people who make our community work and who make a difference to people’s lives. We are forever grateful to the people who recognise that these people are special and have therefore taken the time to nominate them for Stars of the Stokes. Once again, we had a wonderful time with our community heroes on 15th June, a real mix of people mingling and enjoying the celebration of each other’s achievements.
This article originally appeared in the July/August 2018 issue of the Bradley Stoke Journal news magazine (on pages 4 to 7). The magazine is delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH, to ALL 8,700 homes in Bradley Stoke. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.
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