2015's North Somerset Mercury Heroes have been announced! A hearty congratulations to all the winners and runners up from all of us at QualitySolicitors Burroughs Day.
Here is a run down of this year's winners and what makes them North Somerset Heroes:
Braveheart Ben - QualitySolicitors Burroughs Day sponsored category
33 year old Ben has won our sponsored Braveheart category. Having been bullied mercilessly between the ages of 10 and 18, Ben set himself the astonishing task of running 401 marathons in 401 consecutive days in support of anti-bullying charities Stonewall & Kidscape.
Ben was also the public's most voted for nominee and has won the People's Choice local hero award - congratulations Ben!
For more on Ben's story, click here. Support Ben here.
Educational Hero: Strawberry Line Cafe
A group of community spirited volunteers launched a drive to bring the historic Yatton Railway building back into use – as a community cafe and training base for people with special needs. Today the cafe provides an opportunity for people with learning difficulties to train towards gaining an NVQ in catering and hospitality, taking students from Ravenswood School., Weston College and the local community. Find out more about Strawberry Line Cafe here.
Environmental Hero: Yatton & Congresbury Wildlife Action Group
Yatton and Congresbury Wildlife Action Group (YACWAG) started life as the Friends of Biddle Street Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSi), looking after the Strawberry Line nature trail in the village.But their vision grew wider when a piece of land, abutting the Strawberry Line became available in the late 1990s. However, it cost £25,000 – money was available but only to a registered charity. YACWAG was born! Over the last 16 years has purchased 39 more acres of land. YACWAG have won for their on-going work developing nature reserves & conservation in the North Somerset area. Visit their website here.
Public Service Hero: Portishead Lifeboat Trust
The lifeboat trust –(manned completely by volunteers) – launched in September 1996 and was based at a small station at Sugar Loaf Bay. Since its launch, the team of volunteer lifesavers have been called out more than 380 times to help those in trouble. Support the RNLI here.
Charity of the Year: Portishead Christmas Lights
Heralded as the best Christmas lights display in North Somerset - whereas other towns employ contractors to maintain and put up the illuminations, Portishead’s annual festive display is down to the hard work of volunteers. *This year’s switch on was Monday, November 23 at 6pm in the precinct – were you there?
Community Hero: Portishead Open Air Pool
The Portishead Open Air Pool pool used to be run by North Somerset Council but had fallen into disrepair. News that it would be closed sparked outrage amongst the local community and the Save the Open Air Pool (STOP) campaign was launched. Since undergoing refurbishment, the open air pool is one of Portishead’s best loved attractions.
Individual Volunteer Hero: Ken Widibank
Portishead in Bloom volunteer Ken, 71, spends much of his time – an estimated 120 hours a month – mowing the grass and tending flowerbeds and gardens in the town making sure they look their best. His work, which he has been doing for nine years on a voluntary basis, is a key part of the town’s ongoing success in the annual South West in Bloom competition. That’s why he is a North Somerset Hero!
Caring Hero: Contact the Elderly
LONELINESS can affect people at any time of their lives. But for the elderly, many of whom live alone and struggle to get out and about, it’s an emotion often felt more keenly. The Portishead branch of Contact the Elderly are truly local Heroes – this charity organise tea parties for 16 elderly people once a month, relying on a team of hosts to open up their homes. Find out more here.
Unsung Hero: Mike Burt
RETIRED engineer Mike Burt may have been collecting his pension for nearly two decades. But for nearly as long he has been working as a volunteer; running the Jubilee Day Care Centre in Portishead. “It’s very much a case of pensioners looking after pensioners, ” chuckles Mr Burt. “I am 80 myself and a lot of our club members are in their nineties.
Long Service Hero: Gray Bloxham
Mr Jones started the Clevedon Lions in 1917 - it now has more than 1.4 million members in more than 200 countries around the world.Any tsunami, flood or earthquake will see Lions funds sent directly to the area affected, where local clubs will distribute the money. The group also helps out with disasters closer to home e.g. local flooding and install a life-saving defibrillator device in Clevedon.