A memorable evening was had by all last Friday at the Comet Community Awards, an annual celebration to recognise the many unsung heroes and heroines across the Comet's local area.
About 200 people packed into Letchworth’s Icknield Centre for the event, which was hosted by Sky Sports F1 commentator David Croft.
There were incredible stories among both the winners and the finalists, with hero police dog Finn – viciously stabbed in the line of duty last year – recognised alongside his handler Dave Wardell.
Before the awards started in earnest, the audience was treated to a fine performance from the Kingshott School’s string quartet, and a fish and chip supper.
Stand-By-Me Bereavement Support won the Roaring Meg Community Support Award before inspirational teenage artist Lauren Asad won the Young Achiever Award, sponsored by Letchworth flooring firm Altro.
Marion Flavelle, a long-time pastoral care manager at Camps Hill Primary School in Stevenage, was then named Carer of the Year, with Alistair Holmes from Letchworth’s Highfield School picking up the Teacher of the Year gong, sponsored by Airbus.
The Parent in a Million Award, sponsored by Ken Brown Motors, went to Stevenage mum Rhiannon Fraser – who reacted to her daughter’s rare condition by training as a first responder, to help not just her own child but others as well.
Palliative care nurse and serial fundraiser Sally Jarman won the Nurse/Care Worker of the Year award, sponsored by B&M Care, before Marion Flavelle was recognised a second time as Role Model of the Year, sponsored by Specsavers in Stevenage.
The Great and Green Award went to Hayley Sarll and Camps Hill Primary School, whose forest school, animals and muddy outside play sessions are loved by many Stevenage children.
Lauren Asad was then a winner again in the Charity Champions category, sponsored by Kingshott School, for her work painting for good causes.
The close-run Good Neighbour of the Year category, sponsored by Hamilton Davies Solicitors, was won by Samantha Wood for her work bringing the community together to help the homeless. It was Valiant Volunteer next, with 80-year-old Pauline Taylor of the Garden House Hospice Care team scooping the award.
Seventeen-year-old Letchworth community pillar Immy Blackburn-Horgan was then saluted with the Service to the Community Award sponsored by Austin’s Funeral Directors, and Immy amused the crowd with a number of to-the-point remarks.
The awards paused for a special presentation of a memorial plaque to the family of the late Sherma Batson, the much-missed Stevenage community champion and mayor who died in January.
The last award, sponsored by Ashleys Accountants, was for Lifetime Achievement and went to Sally Jarman – who added the prize to the Nurse/Care Worker of the Year award she had won earlier. Also nominated was hero police dog Finn, who has now retired after recovering from being brutally stabbed in Stevenage.
Sally summed up the mood when she said: “When I was training at St Thomas’ Hospital I met some wonderful people and they taught me everything, so it’s only right we teach others and that’s what I’ve done – especially at the hospice. “My advice is not to be afraid – see qualities in people and acknowledge that. If you see something that’s been done really well, just acknowledge it! Be kind to everybody, and open to all.
“It’s wonderful that we’ve got a good community full of kindness. Keep up the good work and keep having these awards – it’s been a lovely evening.”
David Croft added: “I’d swap Formula 1 driver Kimi Raikkonen for any of you finalists tonight. You’re all fantastic people.”
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