Honours for champions of community

At the awards are, from left, Newcastle Building Society branch manager for Whitley Bay, Claire Wilson, Michelle Jones, Mayor Linda Arkley, and the representatives from DuPaul UK Nightstop Hosts in Whitley Bay, Tom Clapperton, Sheila Clapperton, Laura Warner and Annie Hodgkis.

At the awards are, from left, Newcastle Building Society branch manager for Whitley Bay, Claire Wilson, Michelle Jones, Mayor Linda Arkley, and the representatives from DuPaul UK Nightstop Hosts in Whitley Bay, Tom Clapperton, Sheila Clapperton, Laura Warner and Annie Hodgkis.

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COMMUNITY champions have been honoured at an award ceremony held to recognise the work being done by people behind the scenes.

The awards scheme – part of the Cornerstone of the Community programme run by Newcastle Building Society – aims to support communities through fundraising and volunteering.

Michelle Jones won the People’s Choice award for her work at the Riverside Children’s Centre in North Tyneside, where she supports families in difficult situations.

She said: “I worked for six years unpaid before being nominated for a job with the local council as a community entrepreneur for Tyne Gateway.

“This award win is a huge lifetime achievement for me for something I feel I do naturally.

“I love and care for people and want to help as many as possible.”

The winner of the Whitley Bay branch of the society was revealed as the DePaul UK Nightstop Hosts, who support vulnerable, young homeless people.

One of the hosts, Sheila Clapperton, said: “As a host, what is important for us is that the charity offers support to the young person as long as they need it and help them find a more permanent base.

“The award is a nice ‘thank you’ for us but what is more important is the charity gets the recognition it deserves for the help it provides to the young people that need it.”

The judging panel was made up of Newcastle Building Society employees and each winner received a trophy and £200 prize money.

Newcastle Building Society chairman David Holborn said: “This award ceremony really highlighted the good work people do in our communities, often for little or no money, simply because the cause means everything to them. It was quite an emotional night with some wonderful acceptance speeches.

“Each and every person recognised here is worthy in so many different ways, including the people and groups who were shortlisted but didn’t win, as all have made a significant difference to their local communities in such a selfless and dedicated way. I was truly humbled by the work that people do within our communities.”