Greenock Telegraph Community Champions 2018: Winners reflect on a special night

INVERCLYDE gathered to toast its local heroes at a glittering event at Port GlasgowTown Hall.

Everyone was a winner at the Greenock Telegraph Community Champions Awards 2018

Inspirational people and groups of ages and walks of life who had triumphed over adversity or strived to make their community a better place were recognised for their achievements.

Host Judith Ralston shared their remarkable stories with the audience and the sunshine outside was reflected in the buoyant mood inside as Inverclyde‘s favourite paper saluted Inverclyde’s finest people.

The bash started on a high note with music from Live Music Award finalists Riverside Youth Band

The evening was introduced by Telegraph editor Brian Hossack.

He said: “The reason we launched these awards last year was to celebrate all the positive things going on around us, of which there are many.

“It has been a positive year for the Telegraph – we launched our Show Some Heart campaign with the Orr family to put defibrillators into all of our schools and as a trusted brand, our audience continues to grow and expand.

“We’ve shared some amazing stories and continue to provide a voice for people who may otherwise have none.”

Mr Hossack said the judging panel had a very difficult task in choosing the winners.

He said: “Tonight you are going to hear some inspirational stories , some moving stories but most of all stories which underline what a strong and vibrant community this is.”

He also went on thank sponsors Inverclyde Council, Oak Mall, Amazon Gourock and CVS Inverclyde and the events team for organising the evening.

A spokesman for Inverclyde Council said: “It was an honour for the council to be involved recognising some amazing people.”

Claire Jefcoate, manager of the Oak Mall, said: “I thought the nominees’ stories were very inspirational and showed the work of many people that are unrecognised in the Inverclyde community. It was their night.

“We were very pleased to be one of the sponsors and to be involved with the judging process.

“I thought it was a great showcase for Port Glasgow Town Hall and the event was superb.

“It was lovely to see all the mixed tables and everyone chatting and to hear all about the young people’s achievements.”

George Walker, head teacher at Craigmarloch School, was shocked to win the prestigious ‘Teacher of the Year’ award.

He said: “It feels fantastic, it’s a lovely surprise to be nominated and to win is very special.

“I’m proud to be part of Inverclyde and the support we receive from the local community is tremendous.

St Columba’s High School’s Young Enterprise Team ‘Let’s Do a Jig’ won the ‘Young Enterprise Champion award.

The team – made up of Caitlin Garner, Megan Smith, Rachel Mearns, Rachel Robertson, Anna Dunsmuir, Darren Boyd, Maja Donachie and Arianna Moretti – designed, crafted and sold their unique 3D jigsaws which depict local landmarks and national heritage.

Their teachers Claire Thomson and Ashley Quinn, said the pupils are a credit to their community.

Mrs Quinn said: “We are so proud of them.

“They have done absolutely phenomenal – they are absolutely superb.”

The Entrepreneurial Award went to Nicholas Canata, who runs Nico’s Pizzeria.

His mum Helen picked up the award on her son’s behalf.

She said: “It’s brilliant, I’m so proud of him.

“He started his business when he was 18 and at the age of 24 he now has two shops.

Maddison Mitchell, 10, was named Youth Community Champion of the Year.

The determined All Saints Primary pupil suffers from autism and Tourette’s but says Muay Thai boxing has changed her life, a sport where she is now Scottish Junior Champion.

She said: “It’s amazing to win.”

Her parents Barry and Serena were bursting with pride.

Serena said: “We’re so delighted for her.”

The Little Champion of the Year was shared by Jonathan Marshall, Lewis and Fraser McCulloch, Mya Morrison and Team Leyton

Music played a big part at the awards, as well as footage of Inverclyde Schools Wind Orchestra being played in the big screen, there was a moving performance by singer songwriter Anthony McElwee, who sang a song about his beloved Inverclyde and went on to win the Live Music Award.

The 27-year-old said: “I’m ecstatic it’s a big achievement. I’m not used to this sort of attention.

Anthony delighted the crowd by closing the ceremony.

Host Judith, speaking after the awards, said: “I was really taken by how community-spirited it was. Inverclyde such a wonderful place.”