Ely Hero Awards 2019: Cheers, tears and jubilation as winners celebrate in style
PUBLISHED: 10:40 02 July 2019 | UPDATED: 11:14 02 July 2019
It was an evening of cheers, tears and jubilation as the Ely Hero Awards 2019 recognised inspirational individuals in our community.
From incredible community champions to dedicated teachers, and fundraisers to young stars, a wealth of deserving people were nominated in ten categories.
As the sun set over The Maltings last night (July 1), dozens gathered at the venue in their glitzy gowns and stylish suits to celebrate.
Opening the evening, Mayor of Ely Mike Rouse, described the event, which is now in its third-year, as being a chance for "all supermen and superwomen to gather together".
It may have been someone who had devoted their time to volunteering or just been an uplifting force in the life of another.
But one thing for sure was that the event was filled with feel-good vibes, while a delicious three-course meal was served by Littleport's Habis Restaurant.
Host Chris Mann, from BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, invited winners and finalists to the stage to enjoy their moment of glory.
The first winner of the evening was Louise Drake for Smiliest Server from Sewing Daze in Sutton.
"This has been a real honour and ultimately it's the customers who have nominated me for this that allow me to live my dream," she beamed.
Colleague of the year went to farmer Mark Cornell from Prospects Trust, who not only has a fantastic rapport with co-workers but provides meaningful work experience opportunities for adults with learning disabilities.
Caring companion winner Priscilla Free cares for her 40-year-old daughter, but always makes sure she has time for others too.
"I feel very proud," she said.
"Now that I am retired I always make sure I have time to look after others too."
Dentist Thomas O'Connor, from the Princess of Wales Hospital, was surprised and honoured to win the Most Amazing Professional award.
"None of us are a hero on our own," he humbly said.
"It is a real group effort and there is a lot of hard work, but we always want to give something back to the community."
The Neighbour of the Year award was won by Barry and Joan Lonsdale, from Burwell, who were described as "the best neighbours you could wish for".
Barry said: "We think we are just doing what anyone else would do, this is incredible, thank you."
Community Champion Fleur Patten has been a real star in the city over the past year, gracing the pages of the Ely Standard with her 'Ely Rock Eels' campaign.
Her feel-good activities have been the driving force behind community action.
While an emotional Carlene Chambers, from the Isle of Ely School, was recognised for her enthusiasm, calmness and respect in her classroom.
She said the children would be "so very happy" to find out that Miss had won the award.
Megan Langford, from Ely College, won the gong for Child of Achievement, after having a tough time at school since the age of five.
But the inspirational young lady has always wanted to help others - proving it at the awards last night by giving away her gong to fellow finalist Jucinda.
"I gave my award to the girl in the wheelchair because I thought she deserved it," she humbly said.
Sporting Hero went to Ely Runners Justin Smith - who was joined by his group clad in their fitness gear on the red carpet at the start of the night.
He said: The main thrust of my nomination was my work with the Ely Runners Beginners' course, as well as linking up GP surgeries with local parkruns.
"But I understand that my work promoting access to parkrun for people with a learning disability and/or autism was also considered."
Last, but certainly not least, was the prestigious Ely Hero Award trophy, that went to Alison Fitt.
The brave mum tragically lost her 15-year-old son, Charlie, a few years ago after a long illness.
She wanted to help others in a similar position, so set up the "Strong Soham Mums" group and turned pain into positivity with a charity naked calendar.
She gracefully walked on to the stage as confetti fell and Mariah Carey's Hero was played.
"Charlie would have been 18 this Thursday," she said.
"But this award is for all the mums.
"We had such a good time doing the calendar and offer support to each other."
The awards were organised by drain care specialists Metro Rod Cambridge and helped by Infiniti Graphics - in partnership with The Ely Standard and BBC Radio Cambridgeshire.
Closing the ceremony, Ely Standard editor John Elworthy, said: "Tonight we have all been on a journey and experienced something incredible.
"We have listened to some amazing stories which have made us reflect on how wonderful Ely is."
Organisers hailed the event as being bigger and better than ever before, with 26 businesses pledging their support for the feel-good community celebration.
Business category sponsors included Infiniti graphics, Habis, Platinum Properties, Thorlabs and The Ely Gin Company.
Charity of the year Fen House also raised more than £1000 by selling raffle tickets last night.