Stars of the south shine brightly at Community Champions Awards

THE superstars of the south side have been crowned in the latest round of this year’s Evening Times Community Champions Awards.

At the Geoff Shaw Community Centre in Toryglen, the winners were presented with certificates and trophies and all will now go on to the grand final in December.

Evening Times Editor Graham Shields said: “Our Community Champions awards always reveal the hidden heroes – the men, women and children who work so hard to make our neighbourhoods better places for all.

“I’m delighted the Evening Times and our partners, Glasgow City Council, Glasgow Community Planning Partnership, Glasgow Housing Association, Scottish Fire and Rescue and Police Scotland – can pay tribute to them. They are all fantastic ambassadors for our city.”

Lord Provost Sadie Docherty presented the first accolade to Team Award winner The Mount Befriending Service which works tirelessly in Mount Florida helping older people to beat isolation and loneliness.

Chairperson Shirley McCuish said she was over the moon to have won.

“We are so excited just to be here and we are very proud of what we have achieved,” she said.

“The weekly visits we carry out, supporting older people in Mount Florida who might otherwise feel isolated or lonely, has made a huge impact on our community.”

Jennifer Russell, of Glasgow Housing Association, presented the Individual Award to hospice fundraiser Frank Gilroy and the Uniformed Services Award to Govan Police Office’s GAB project which supports victims of domestic abuse.

PC Sarah Cathcart, who runs the service with her colleague PC Laura Thomson and Maria Bradley of Assist, was delighted to be honoured.

“This is really special,” she said. “Our project cuts through the red tape and helps people, many of them distressed and at difficult times in their lives, work out where to turn.

“It’s lovely to be recognised as Community Champions.”

Physiotherapist Frank Gilroy started fundraising for The Prince and Princess of Wales Hospice four years ago, shortly after the death of his wife, who had cancer.

He set up a fitness fundraising team called Cy-Run, which has pledged to raise £125,000 for the hospice.

Frank said: “I am delighted to win this award, but really this is for all of the team, as I couldn’t have done it without them.”

The Public Service Award was presented by David Cowley, Group Manager of Scottish Fire and Rescue, to Galgael stalwart Gehan Macleod, a caring and passionate worker who is programme manager at the boat-building charity which helps to give people their lives back.

Gehan, 45, who is from Govan, got involved with the charity when it supported her late husband Colin. She said she was proud to continue what he had started.

“I’m pleased Galgael still inspires people,” she said. “What makes us stand out is our humanity – we have created an environment where people help people.”

The Health and Wellbeing Award was presented by Police Scotland Chief Inspector Graham McInarlin to the David Cargill Centre, which helps members boost self-esteem and confidence.

Support worker Roger Melvin said: “The centre gives people who are socially excluded somewhere to go. This has been a bolt out of the blue for us – we don’t do this to win awards, but it’s lovely to be recognised.”

The brilliant intergenerational project for men, Govanhill Baths Fishing Club, was the worthy winner of the Sports Award, presented by Councillor Stephen Curran of Glasgow Community Planning Partnership.

The project brings men of all ages together, helping to combat stereotypes and break down barriers.

Volunteer Roddy Finnie said: “We are really chuffed to win – the project is in its early stages but we want to reach out to more people and this will be a real boost.”

The final prizes, Senior Award and Young Award, were presented by Evening Times Editor Graham Shields.

The joint winners of the Senior category were James Dickie, hardworking chairman of both Toryglen community council and Aitkenhead crime prevention panel, and skilful needlewoman Jan O’Neill, who has raised tens of thousands of pounds for charity by making and selling curtains, peg bags, tartan cushion covers and more.

James said: “Being nominated was such a surprise – I’m just happy to be helping people.”

Jan said: “It’s a real honour to be here, I’m so surprised to have won. I have always loved sewing and when I retired I thought, well, I can’t just do nothing…I love it and am glad to have made a difference.”

The Young Award went to the incomparable Martin Gallagher, a kind-hearted teenager who does not let the fact he suffers from a rare heart condition hold him back.

Holyrood Secondary pupil Martin, 17, is dedicated to helping others through a range of community initiatives, despite his own personal heartache – his mother died when he was 10 and sadly, his father died after battling cancer last year.

Martin said: “I’ve had some tough times but what keeps me going is the thought that, no matter what’s going on in my life, I might be able to make a difference to someone else.”