Champions are recognised

All the Cornerstone award winners at Linden Hall.
All the Cornerstone award winners at Linden Hall.

Community champions from across south east Northumberland have been honoured at a gala presentation evening.

The Cornerstone of Community Awards were designed to recognise the invaluable contributions that local people and groups make across the area served by the Newcastle’s Morpeth and Ashington branches of Newcastle Building Society.

Leading the way was Volunteer Of The Year Award winner Pauline Thompson from Ashington, who set up the Alligator Klub five years ago to help support local adults with learning difficulties, and to allow them to socialise and make new friends in a safe atmosphere.

Pauline helps to arrange parties and entertainment evenings, and alongside her work with the Alligator Klub, she also manages to fit in donating some of her time to the local food bank.

Also from Ashington, Ben Baxter, who was chosen as the winner of the Young Person’s Award, found many aspects of school challenging before he discovered gardening, which helped him find a positive outlet for his energy.

His love for gardening and the environment has grown along with his natural aptitude for the pastime, and he now inspires other to plant, recycle and pick up litter.

His choices have also encouraged others in his community to make better choices themselves, and he has now appointed as a vice captain of his school house.

The Role Model Award went to Susan Dickinson from Ashington, who dedicates her life to running a group for local children with special needs, and provides support.

Susan has organised many fundraising activities in order to help the children and their families enjoy special days, and is always there to help them through difficult times.

Real Deal Plus picked up the fourth award of the evening, the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation Community Group Award, for its work supporting the homeless and other local people in need.

The charity promotes the provision of supported accommodation, respite, education, training, information and advice, and is also responsible for running the new Ashington Life Centre, a community hub for local people and groups.

Individual awards were also made by each of the teams at the two local NBS branches, with the Morpeth award going to the Henry Dancer Days charity, which supports children and young people aged 18 and under with primary bone cancer.

Jamie Fraser, who has raised almost £3,500 over the last seven years for various charities including Cancer Research, Bullying UK and the North East Autism Society by organising bus trips throughout the UK, picked up the Ashington branch prize.

Natalie Falkous from Newcastle Building Society, said: “We hear a lot of stories from our customers about local people and groups who make a real difference to their community, and the Cornerstone Awards give us the chance to give them some wider recognition.

“The achievements of all our nominees and their contributions to the places in which they live are truly inspiring, and helped us create a really moving and memorable event.

“We have always worked hard to support the communities in which we operate, and this is something which the wider Cornerstone campaign helps our branch teams us to do by support hugely-valued charities in their respective areas.”