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Abigail's Footsteps win Kent Charity Awards at Leas Cliff Hall in Folkestone


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Charities from across the county who work tirelessly to help those in need have been thanked for their valuable work.

At a gala evening at the Leas Cliff Hall in Folkestone last night, the selfless heroes were recognised at the annual Kent Charity Awards.

Medway-based Abigail’s Footsteps - a group providing support for families grieving a stillborn - secured the overall winner's title of Kent Charity of the Year.

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Volunteers and members of Abigail's Footsteps
Volunteers and members of Abigail's Footsteps

The organisation was launched in 2010 by Jo and David Ward, following the loss of their daughter Abigail Rosie-Ann Ward, who was stillborn at 41 weeks.

David said: "We're absolutely delighted and very very honoured.

"Abigail would have been seven in April. Seven years has passed very very quickly, it seems like yesterday and it's still a very very emotional and raw subject.

Some of the charity finalists after the ceremony
Some of the charity finalists after the ceremony

"In the room was some amazing people and I felt very humbled the fact we were even finalists and shortlisted.

"To be the overall winner it seems a little bit hard because I think everyone in the room is an overall winner and everyone deserved to win."

In its second year, the Kent Charity Awards - founded by Jo Hage and Sarah MacDonald from Rise Communications - had seven different categories up for grabs as well as the overall winner.

VIDEO: Charities from across the county were praised at the Kent Charity Awards.

Chairman of judges Susan Robinson said: “It very much reflects what's happening in our county with the good work that's being done in the sector and I don't think we say thank you enough.

"Also the charities do need the publicity. They need to be seen to be doing what they are doing and this is an opportunity to dedicate their hard work."

This year’s Care Charity of the Year was awarded to the Strode Park Foundation, who celebrate 70 years of service caring for children and adults with disabilities.

Care Charity of the Year, Strode Park Foundation, with sponsor Tom Gates from KCC (second left, back)
Care Charity of the Year, Strode Park Foundation, with sponsor Tom Gates from KCC (second left, back)
Volunteers and members of Abigail's Footsteps hear they are the Kent Charity of the Year
Volunteers and members of Abigail's Footsteps hear they are the Kent Charity of the Year

Happy Endings Rescue, with land in Sevenoaks and Faversham, provide sanctuary for unwanted and ill-treated animals. They won Animal Charity of the Year.

The Community and Environment award went to Catching Lives - a Canterbury-based organisation who support the homeless and vulnerably housed people of Kent.

This year’s Children’s Charity was given to Action for Children Folkestone Early Years Children’s Centre, who provide childcare and opportunities for parents.

Supporting Charity of the Year, Royal British Legion Industries, with Cllr David Brake from sponsor Medway Council
Supporting Charity of the Year, Royal British Legion Industries, with Cllr David Brake from sponsor Medway Council
Community and Environment winners, Catching Lives, with sponsor Aaron Spencer
Community and Environment winners, Catching Lives, with sponsor Aaron Spencer

Kent MS Therapy Centre claimed Voluntary Category of the Year, for their work in allowing people with MS a place to relax and socialise with friends.

The final two categories awarded individuals who have made a difference in the community through the work they have carried out.

Trustee of the Year went to Pat Downing MBE and Volunteer of the Year was given to Jonjo Heuerman, who received the only standing ovation of the night.

Volunteer of the Year Jonjo Heuerman BEM, 14, with Trustee of the Year Pat Downs MBE
Volunteer of the Year Jonjo Heuerman BEM, 14, with Trustee of the Year Pat Downs MBE
Children's Charity of the Year, Action for Children - Folkestone Early Years Centre
Children's Charity of the Year, Action for Children - Folkestone Early Years Centre

The 14-year-old has raised more than £229,000 for cancer charities in memory of his nan.

This year’s Kent Charity Awards attracted more than 80 entries.

The judges were made up of representatives from the sponsors, including Diggerland, Furley Page, Kent County Council, Kent Reliance, KM Media Group, Kreston Reeves, Medway Council, MidKent College and Southeastern.

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