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A glittering night honours those who put others before themselves

By West Briton  |  Posted: November 07, 2013

  • Matt Vernon receives the Editor's Choice award from West Briton editor Richard Best.

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FROM courageous children to good neighbours, the inaugural West Briton community awards have recognised and celebrated the incredible achievements of people in the local area.

More than 1,300 votes were cast for people whose actions have made a vital difference to their communities.

All of the nominees, accompanied by friends and family, were invited to a sensational awards ceremony at the Falmouth Hotel on Friday.

The audience had the chance to be inspired by tales of bravery, selflessness and a devotion to helping communities.

Jemma Webb, Aiden Pellow and Rupert Mills were joint winners of the Child of Courage award.

Aiden has battled with leukaemia, Jemma raised nearly £30,000 for charities after having a heart transplant and developing lymphoma, and Rupert helps his mother Keely to look after his younger brother Dennis, who has life-limiting conditions.

Carer Hannah Barden, who was named Health Worker of the Year, discovered a lump in a client's breast which was found to be cancerous.

Early treatment meant the woman's life was saved.

"I'm really honoured even to be nominated," she said.

"I think all health workers deserve it and I'm just accepting it on behalf of all of them, really."

Ingrid Loyau-Kennett hit national headlines when she intervened in the aftermath of the killing of Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich. After receiving the West Briton bravery award she said: "I'm ecstatic. Thank you so much to those people who nominated me for this award. I was so sure that others have been braver and deserve it more than me, but thank you."

The Invictus Trust was set up after Truro teenager Ben Cowburn took his own life in 2010 and is currently campaigning for the establishment of a £5 million adolescent mental health centre in Cornwall.

Ben's sister Sophia collected the award for Charity Hero and said: "It's amazing.

"It was my twin brother who died and he's the reason why we set up the charity. It's just really special to be here to accept the award."

Julie Stoddern was named Adult Carer of the Year and said: "I'm absolutely ecstatic. I'm going to fight more and carry on.

"My next aim is to get a hostel under my name."

Sylvia Dunstan, who won the Good Neighbour award, said: "I'm overwhelmed – really overwhelmed. I feel very lucky to have such nice people to live round me; they're very easy to help."

Janey Davis was named Community Champion for her work with Falmouth's Kimberley Park Association and said: "It's been an absolute pleasure to have been a part of, and this really is something I'm collecting for the group of people who've been involved in the park – not just me."

Teacher of the Year Jim Beech, from Richard Lander School, said: "I can't believe it, I've just done a few stupid things in school and it's just amazing. I don't know who nominated me and I'm just very privileged to be here."

The Caring Company award went to Rodda's, and managing director Nick Rodda said: "We're thoroughly proud to receive the award. Cornwall has given so much to our company over the years so it feels thoroughly deserving to give something back."

The final award of the evening was given to mussel diver Matt Vernon for his repeated attempts to rescue a woman from a car that went into the Fal at the King Harry Ferry slipway.

Mr Vernon received the Editor's Choice award and said: "It's just absolutely amazing. There were so many other people here tonight more deserving than me, especially the children."

Mark Sainsbury, managing director of Cornwall and Devon Media, said: "This is what our newspapers are all about. There are amazing people doing amazing things in our communities and we wanted to celebrate their achievements.

"It was a fantastic night, both humbling and inspiring to see what people are capable of. I'm very grateful to all involved for taking part and look forward to next year's event."

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