Waiting almost over for this year’s Evening Times Community Champions

Waiting almost over for this year’s Evening Times Community Champions.

THERE are just two days to go before the Evening Times Community Champions of 2016 are crowned.

It has been a bumper year for outstanding individuals, great groups and brilliant projects – which made judging extremely difficult.

But the waiting is almost over and all of the delighted shortlisted groups are gearing up for the glittering finale at the City Chambers on Thursday.

Winners from the South, North East and North West heats held earlier in the year will join together for the lively, heartwarming event, supported by our partners Glasgow City Council, Glasgow Community Planning Partnership, Glasgow Housing Association, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and Police Scotland.

Battling it out for the Team Award are North East heat winners Baltic Street Adventure Playground (BSAP), which provides a safe, fun place for children to play in Dalmarnock; The Mount Befriending Service, which triumphed in the South heat for its tireless work helping older people to beat isolation and loneliness; and North West heat winners 3D Drumchapel Volunteers, who have been supporting children and families in the area for more than 20 years.
The three contenders for the Individual Award are Susan Wilson, Frank Gilroy and Jane Hook.

North East champion Susan is a community champion with Tesco in Parkhead, who dedicates her time to helping local charities and schools.

North West heat winner Jane set up Buddies Clubs and Services, a support group and after-school care club for children with complex conditions and disabilities 22 years ago and it is still going strong.

Physiotherapist Frank Gilroy, who won the South heat, has raised tens of thousands of pounds for The Prince and Princess of Wales Hospice since the death of his wife, who had cancer. The Public Service Award finalists are North East champion Harry Young, who juggles a variety of fundraising and support work in his various roles with Royston Youth Action, Rosemount Learning, North Glasgow Integration Network and more; Galgael stalwart and South winner Gehan Macleod, a caring and passionate worker who is programme manager at the inspirational boat-building charity; and the North West heat winner Drumchapel High School Wider Achievement Programme, which helps pupils engage with the local community, learning skills and building confidence at the same time The two finalists for the Uniform Service Award South heat winners Govan Police Office’s GAB Project, which cuts through red tape to help victims of domestic abuse, and North West heat champion PC John Crawford, who was honoured for his incredible bravery in diving into the freezing waters of Kelvin Loch to try to save a drowning man.

The Senior Award finalists are Margaret Simpson, who chairs the Unity Lunch Club and is a hardworking member of Swinton Community Council in the north east of the city; the North West’s Robert Alston, a “one-man community anchor” who supports Woodside Community Council, Hillhead Area Partnership and runs a local music group, and joint South winners James W Dickie and Jan O’Neill.

James is the hardworking chairman of both Toryglen community council and Aitkenhead crime prevention panel, and skilful needlewoman Jan O’Neill has raised tens of thousands of pounds for charity by making and selling curtains, peg bags, tartan cushion covers and more.

The Young Award will go to one of the following quartet – Lauren Dixon, a St Roch’s Secondary pupil who works hard for her community, and who shared the North East title with excellent young people’s project the Pavilion Youth Cafe – Young Volunteers; South heat winner Martin Gallacher, a kind-hearted teenager who has overcome personal tragedy and ill-health helps others through a range of community initiatives; or the North West’s DRC Generations Peer Mentor Group, an inspirational bunch of teenagers who plan and deliver sessions based on a range of hardhitting topics, including substance misuse and bullying, to primary and secondary pupils.

The contenders for the Health and Wellbeing Award are fantastic cycle club for all, Free Wheel North, which won the North East heat; South heat winner The David Cargill Centre, which helps members boost self-esteem and confidence; and Glasgow Bike Station, the inspirational bike recycling project from the north west of the city.
The Sport Award finalists are Glasgow East Rugby Club, the first group of its kind in the north east of the city targeting men and women, and all age groups; the brilliant intergenerational project for men Govanhill Baths – Angling For All, which triumphed in the South heat; and North West heat winner North Kelvin Sports Development Group, which, as well as running 12 football teams, organises several outstanding community projects, tackling issues as diverse as social exclusion and sectarianism.

The final award of the evening – the Lord Provost Champion of Champion Awards – will be announced on the night.
Evening Times Editor Graham Shields said: “It has been another exciting and emotional year for the Evening Times Community Champions Awards.

“Throughout the last 12 months, we have heard some exceptional stories from the people of Glasgow, from our youngest citizens already shaping the future to veteran community stalwarts, doing their bit to make the city a better place.”

He added: “The grand final, supported by our generous partners Glasgow City Council, Glasgow Community Planning Partnership, Glasgow Housing Association, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and Police Scotland, promises to be a wonderful event.

“I am looking forward to joining everyone in paying tribute to the amazing men, women and children who work so hard and expect so little in return.”