There wasn’t a dry eye in the room as heart warming stories of courage and adversity were celebrated at the annual Derbyshire Times Pride Awards.
Dedicated fundraisers, community-spirited neighbours, a man who donated a kidney to his friend and a nurse who hasn’t let Parkinson’s disease stop her selfless work were just some of the deserving winners.
Nominees enjoyed a glittering event at the Proact Stadium and awards were dished out in 12 categories ranging from sporting achievements and members of the emergency services to inspiring community groups.
The celebration, hosted by Howard Borrell, saw attendees tuck in to a menu of roast topside of beef and Yorkshire pudding and Bakewell pudding and custard.
Overall winner Susan Alexander was commended for her inspirational work despite living and working for the past ten years with Parkinson’s disease.
Tearful Susan said she was overjoyed to pick up an award.
Community group of the year - Transition Chesterfield
Since launching in 2008 the group has been busy with film screenings, events and workshops, aiming to raise awareness of green issues. The next step is to set up working groups to focus on areas such as food, waste, energy and transport.
The group hopes to launch more events and projects to make a difference in the town.
Young fundraiser - Ally Le Carpentier
Ally has volunteered with Global Volunteer Network to work with orphans in Vietnam every summer since 2011.
Just some of the fundraising events she has been involved with include a marathon, triathlon and yard sales. She is aiming to take part in the Flagg Village Yard Sale and have a stall at Bakewell Market selling knitted babywear. Funds have gone towards buying a generator for the food kitchen, three months food for 70 orphans, books, medicines and frames for disabled children.
Outstanding achievement - Kirstie Round
At the age of 19 Kirstie was diagnosed with Crohns disease. Despite the diagnosis she still went to university to train to become a nurse. Two years in to her training her health took a downward spiral when her treatment stopped working. This lead to surgery, complications, infections and her weight dropped rapidly. While most people would have given up Kirstie spent three months recuperating then returned to her post as a healthcare assistant.
After more surgery she graduated and is now a staff nurse on a ward that deals with bowel problems and uses her experience to inspire patients.
Music and performing arts - Cast and directors of Phantom of the Opera, Chesterfield Studios
Quoted by a member of the audience as the “best production I have ever seen, very professional”, the winners’ excellent performance in February at the Pomegranate Theatre led to standing ovations and high praise.
The team was praised for quality singing, dancing and the live orchestra as well as professional set and costumes.
Emergency services - Edale Mountain Rescue Team
One of the busiest mountain rescue teams in the country the team operate in the Peak District National Park as well as rural areas of Derbyshire and South Yorkshire.
Due to the high number of outdoor activities carried out in the area the team has attended more than 900 incidents since 2000. Dedicated volunteers are called out to assist the police and ambulance service and rescue people who have had accidents while walking, climbing, cycling or riding in the Peaks.
Fundraiser of the year - Jo Edwards
The fundraising extraordinaire was at the helm of Ashgate Hospice’s team for over 20 years.
Coordinating and inspiring staff and benefactors in her role as head of the charity’s fundraising department, Jo helped found the hospice as a volunteer and after several years took on an official role.
The hospice is totally dependent on donations and inspired by her own personal circumstances Jo has helped others raise millions of pounds for Ashgate.
After it celebrated its 25th anniversary last year Jo has opted to take a well-earned rest and step down.
Inspiring personality - Susan Alexander
After being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease ten years ago Susan decided instead of letting it stop her living she was going to be the boss.
Each day she faces challenges and event the simplest of tasks can be a struggle but despite this she goes to work four days a week as a practice nurse.
Walking through the village where she lives many people say they feel privileged to know her and even if it’s her day off she’s never off duty, always making time for people.
When she takes annual leave most people with her condition would take a well-deserved rest but Susan looks after her grandson - and said she wouldn’t have it any other way.
Neighbour of the year - Margaret Barnett
Mags’ neighbour described her as a “second mummy”. They said of our winner: “Any problems we have she is the one who gives us reassurance and helps us solve problems. She works as a care helper for older people and does split shifts, lots of days on the trot and covers people who are off without complaints. In the last year she has lost both her parents and understandably has been in a low place. Despite all of this she has still supported her neighbours and friends. She’s a true hero - my hero.”
Love where you live - Friends of Bolsover Park
The winners originally came together to improve Hornscroft Park which at the time was derelict.
They later broadened their scope and supported Old Bolsover Town’s play and recreation project to seek funding to improve all five parks in the Bolsover area.
In 2009 they resurrected Bolsover gala to celebrate the improvements made. The gala was a great success and has continued every year - getting bigger and better.
Community spirit - Maragret Cooper
Margaret has been involved with the Staveley and Armed Forces Veterans Association Committee which organises annual events on Poolsbrook Country Park.
She looks after hospitality for dignitaries and volunteers and has assisted in fundraising events. She has helped with events for the mayor’s charity, carried out bucket collections and is a regular supporter of the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal for Staveley. During these years she has always put others first.
Outstanding bravery - Jamie Wright
Jamie’s selfless nature knows no bounds and in February he gave his best friend Adam Greenway the ultimate gift of life - by donating one of his kidneys.
Without a donor transplant Adam - who is just 30-years-old - would have had to have dialysis on a daily basis and be put on the national register for a donor.
Friends since nursery, as soon as Jamie heard Adam’s kidneys had deteriorated due to a genetic condition, he offered to take test to see if he was a suitable match. He was never asked to do this - but his only thoughts were to help his friend. Adam said: “He has helped me carry on and lead a normal life. How can I ever thank him enough?”
Sporting achievement - Liam Pitchford
Chesterfield ace who reached a career high of 54 in the world table tennis rankings and also reaffirmed his spot as England’s number one.
He has built up a reputation as a “giant killer” and the champion even holds a place in the Colin Deaton Table Tennis Hall of Fame at the age of 20.
Overall winner - Susan Alexander
Derbyshire Times editor Graeme Huston said: “Susan hasn’t let anything from stopping her being a good role model and inspiring others not only at home but in the community even when day to day living can be a struggle.”
See the Derbyshire Times for a photo special and keep checking the website for a video and photo slideshow.