Published: 10:01, 17 November 2021
| Updated: 10:08, 17 November 2021
There wasn't a dry eye in the house by the end of the first Tesco Pride of the Island Awards.
The contest was put together by Kay Speed, the manager of the Sheerness store, and her team.
At the red-carpet awards ceremony at Layzells, Minster, she said: "The inspiration was Tim Bell who raises funds for the Kent Air Ambulance and joins us at the store across the year regardless of the weather.
"The past 18 months have been incredibly hard for our community. Yet we have met more people like Tim who have worked really hard to make a difference.
"We wanted to celebrate those people in a way which involved the whole Island. The response was amazing. Sheppey is one of the most deprived areas in Kent yet it has a heart of gold."
She added: "We have had the pleasure of meeting and working with some really inspirational carers, fundraisers and local heroes who are using their own time and talent to make the Island a nicer place.
"It made us want to spotlight their amazing causes to a wider audience. We thank everyone for their feedback. It has been a lot of hard work but it was so worth it."
Mr Bell, 76, said: "The staff at Tesco have made me feel like part of their family. They often bring out tubs of sweets or cups of tea while I'm collecting for the air ambulance outside in my converted mobility scooter. Whenever I play the song We Are Family I think of them."
The ceremony was on Thursday . Kay said: "We chose the day, November 11, as it is the proudest date of the year when, as a country, we celebrate those who made made the ultimate sacrifice to help others."
The mayor of Swale Cllr Paul Stephen said: "This has put the rest of the borough to shame. Everyone is a winner and have all come up trumps. I do hope these awards are carried on and turned into an annual event."
A committee picked the finalists but the ultimate winners in 10 categories were chosen by a public vote.
The committee comprised store manager Kay Speed; store community champion Kay Boswell; Abigail Cockett (liaison support); Swale mayor Cllr Paul Stephen; Sgt Ryan Chase of the Swale community safety police unit; Garry Ratcliffe of Curly's farm; Dolley White (Sheerness and Minster council councillor and school governor for Oasis Academy, West Minster and Rose Street schools and Dawn Cockburn of the Harmony Therapy Trust and the moderator of the Positive Life Today on the Isle of Sheppey Facebook group. The awards were also supported by PCSOs Jess Stocks and Katie Jordan.
The winners were:
Child of the year shared between Lexie Braham and Alfie Mathis.
Fundraiser of the year (under-18) shared between Joshua Jarvis, 11, and Harvey Servante, 12.
Spirit of youth: Newspaper boy Leo Jacob.
Community heroes: Kyle and Garry Ratcliffe who founded Curly’s Farm which gives work experience to youngsters. They were featured on the BBC TV show DIY SOS.
Health service award: Sheerness pharmacist Manu Mistry.
Volunteer of the year: Retired postman Phil Crowder, 61, who chairs the Sheerness Town Team and leads beach cleans. He told guests: "If everyone picked up three pieces of litter a day it would make such a difference."
Lifetime achievement: Lorraine March and Twiggy Hawes of Kent Wildlife Rescue Services who founded the animal charity in Lorraine's Sheerness house 16 years ago.
Emergency services award: RNLI coxswain Robin Castle, who has recently retired from the Sheerness station after nearly 40 years.
Fundraiser of the year (over-18s): Molly Hope who has collected money for Abigail's Footsteps to provide 'cold cots' in hospitals for stillborn babies.
The committee’s choice award: Aaron Scanlan who has been raising money for Cancer Research UK following the death of his grandmother.