INSPIRATIONAL individuals and tremendous teams from all over Inverclyde were honoured at the Greenock Telegraph’s fourth annual Community Champion Awards sponsored by Inverclyde Council, RCH Group and Platinum Paving.
More than 200 people gathered together at Greenock Town Hall to hear about amazing acts of kindness, bravery and community spirit which help make Inverclyde such a special place.
Television and radio star Jennifer Reoch was master of ceremonies for the evening and welcomed all of the winners onto the stage to accept their honours.
Dedicated sportswoman Gillian Duffy took the Sporting Champion of the Year title on the night.
Courageous Gillian was diagnosed with blood cancer almost five years ago and learned that she needed a stem cell transplant to survive.
The top international women’s football coach recently welcomed her German stem cell donor Kay-uwe Rath to Greenock in what she said was the most ’emotional and overwhelming’ moment of her life.
Through all her health battles, Gillian has dedicated her time to being an ambassador for young footballers across Inverclyde.
She will soon make sporting history by becoming the first woman, and youngest person ever, to take on the role of president of the Scottish Schools’ Football Association.
Gillian said the Tele honour was ‘really unexpected’.
She said: “There are so many talented, amazing people in this category and everyone deserves this award.
“I’m so grateful that people thought I deserved it.
“I’m totally shocked.
“I’ve always got more out of volunteering than I’ve put into it.”
Young boxing star Noah Waddell was highly commended in the sporting category.
Noah recently took the top spot in the 48kg category at Scottish Boxing’s School and Junior Golden Gloves Championship.
Noah, 14, said: “I’m completely lost for words.
“I’ve never won anything like this before. It’s amazing to be recognised.”
Dance teacher and businesswoman Lauren Hair scooped the Teacher of the Year award.
Lauren shot to fame when she got to the final of the Sky TV show Got to Dance when she was just 16, back in 2011.
She now dedicates her life to teaching youngsters in her own dance school, and is by their side when they’re competing in contests all over Scotland.
Lauren said the Tele honour was a fantastic end to a very successful week for the school.
She added: “I have an amazing team behind me and none of this would be possible without them.
“Thank you so much to everyone who nominated me and thanks to the parents for trusting me as part of their dance journey.
“It’s been an amazing week for the school and this is the perfect ending.
“It feels amazing to be appreciated in this way.”
Margaret Sneddon was crowned Senior Community Champion of the Year.
Margaret, 92, regularly donates to Children in Poverty Inverclyde and even took part in a trike ride last year to raise money for the charity.
The big-hearted senior citizen said: “This is a very big surprise, I wasn’t expecting it at all.”
Glow Bambino took the Business Champion of the Year title.
The business provides sensory adventures for wee ones using lights and stories to create amazing worlds.
Owner Jade Gilbride said she was ‘completely in shock’ about the win.
She added: “We want to say a huge ‘thank-you’ to all the mums and babies for supporting the club.
“Thank you so much to everyone who nominated us.
“I’m absolutely blown away.”
The team behind Clyde Eats were highly commended in the business category.
Run by sisters Yvonne Purdie and Janine Brennan with support from Natalie Mills, the food app has supported Inverclyde charities and projects to the tune of more than £5,000.
Yvonne said: “This is an award for everyone in Inverclyde who has supported us.
“We wouldn’t be anywhere without them.
“Thank you so much to everyone who thought about us.”
The Charity Champion of the Year honour was scooped by dedicated fundraiser Chris Thomson and his family.
Chris’ mum Christine passed away at Ardgowan Hospice in 2009, aged just 51.
Since then, the family have raised more than £98,000 for the hospice and for Breast Cancer Care in Christine’s memory.
The forthcoming Breast Cancer Ball at Greenock Town Hall is the family’s eighth, and will take the total to over £100,000.
Chris said the Tele award means a lot.
He added: “We want to say a massive thank you to everyone.
“It meant so much to us just to be nominated.
“We honestly didn’t expect the fundraisers to be as big as they are.
“We couldn’t do it without the support we receive from everyone.
“More than 300 people come along every year. We can’t thank people enough.”
Four out of the five acts nominated in the Live Music Award category – The Swamp Jocks, Martin Stephen Jones, Jack Vize and Chloe Matharu – all performed on the night. Reely Jiggered were finalists too.
Singer songwriter and harpist Chloe Matharu took the honour.
She said the awards ceremony reinforced Inverclyde’s strong sense of community.
Chloe added: “I didn’t expect this at all.
“I’m blown away by the talent I’ve seen on the stage tonight.
“Inverclyde is a very special place to live and it’s a place where hard work really pays off.
“It really is a place where dreams come true.
“I just want to say a big ‘thank you’ to everyone who nominated me.”
Kind-hearted young fundraiser Taylor Kitchen, 22, scooped the Tele’s Heart of Gold Award.
Taylor has been raising money for youngsters in need for almost a decade since she joined the beauty pageant circuit in 2013.
Some of Taylor’s activities have included buying ‘cuddle buddies’ to help youngsters who have long term health issues and spend a lot of their time in hospital.
Taylor, who brought her beautiful five-week-old daughter Addison along to the ceremony, said she didn’t expect to receive the honour.
She added: “I’ve been doing this since I was 13.
“I’m just so proud that I’m able to help people.”