Emotions ran high at our 10th annual Sunshine Ball and Awards which honoured local heroes – some of them sadly no longer with us.
A special Lifetime Achievement Award for Reece Holt had the function room at Morecambe’s Midland Hotel on its feet and was met with rapturous applause.
Reece, who passed away earlier this year aged 13 after a valiant cancer battle, set up his Team Reece charity to raise awareness of childhood cancer and help other children and families in a similar situation.
The charity went on to raise more than £100,000 and is being continued in Reece’s memory by his family and friends. Reece’s brother Callum Holt and best friend Oscar Spensley were there to accept the Lifetime Achievement Award on Reece’s behalf on the night.
Our prestigious Ambassador Award this year went to Rod Taylor, chairman of Morecambe Football Club.
It was fitting that this special award went to Rod, a man of the people who has never failed to recognise the true spirit of Morecambe.
Now, as chairman of the town’s football club, he has taken on the mantle of guiding, along with former award winner Jim Bentley, the Shrimps to a more stable and positive footing.
The Community Group Award was a keenly-contested category with Morecambe Carnival Committee getting the nod from judges for their ‘sheer hard work and great Morecambe spirit’.
Highly commended were Torrisholme Community Primary School, who are amazing supporters of St John’s Hospice, Lancaster, and have raised over £10,000, and Morecambe Bay Poverty Truth Commission – a group that raises awareness of poverty in the area.
The winner of the Good Neighbour Award was Dotty Brady who was described as being a ‘neighbour in a million’. She was praised for taking her neighbour Mary shopping, buying her flowers and for being thoughtful and kind.
Runner-up Kevin Smith was nominated for his endless work in the community and for being the ‘go-to’ man when something needs doing.
Twelve-year-old Georgia Thornton was crowned Young Achiever of the year. She has raised in excess of £5,000 for the Bradford Burns Unit. She has done this by making ribbons in Bradford City colours and selling them to the fans.
Highly commended was Brandon Hunter, a talented Year 13 pupil from Bay Leadership Academy who has literally made leaps and bounds towards his dream dance career by being cast in impresario Sir Mathew Bourne OBE’s new production of Romeo and Juliet.
A global company with its headquarters in Morecambe – EcoRenew UK – took the Sustainability Award. The company refurbishes, re-use sand recycles electronic devices to stop them going to landfill and reduce the adverse effect on the environment.
Runners-up were Hodgsons Chippy who believe sustainability is fundamental to the industry and Pye Motors who have teamed up with Walkers and waste management firm Terracycle to offer a crisp packet recycling point at their Ovangle Road petrol station.
Jet Limited were revealed as Business of the Year. Judges were impressed by their commitment to developing the range of attractions in Morecambe with the Jump Rush trampolining centre and Soul Bowl dining and bowling experience being prime examples.
The King’s Arms, which has undergone a £1.2m refit and dedicated florists, Abi’s Arrangements, were highly commended.
There were emotional scenes when it came to the winner, or should that be winners, of the Charity Fundraiser Category.
The honour was shared by Team Reece and Shine for Sian, a family-run charity whose aim is to raise funds for those who suffer from mental health issues.
Highly commended was Jacob Bowles who aged just six managed to walk more than 30 miles to raise funds for the Morecambe Foodbank
Larissa Hannam, who won gold at the European Under 17 Triathlon Championships, also triumphed in the Sport category. She held off the challenge of semi-professional footballer and fitness trainer Billy Akrigg.
As expected the competition in the popular Health Hero section was as strong as ever. Judges voted to give the honour to Diana Heyes who, despite holding down three jobs, set up an adult autism social group called Spectrum Connection.
Highly commended were the Circulation Cafe which helps tackle loneliness and Tamasin Lamb who supports individuals with substance misuse problems and mental health difficulties.
A poignant moment came when Linda Cody, daughter of Winter Gardens stalwart Evelyn Archer, was invited to accept the Entertainment Award on behalf of her late mother who was the driving force behind the campaign to see the Winter Gardens flourish once again.
There was also praise for the work of Morecambe Warblers who are an amateur society that have been providing entertainment and opportunity to entertain for over 120 years and Morecambe Music Festival, the self-funded entertainment organisation which stages a fantastic yearly event.
Brent Lees, of BLC Lighting, was named Unsung Hero for his compassion and involvement in raising awareness of so many good causes.
Highly commended were Joss Irving – an inspirational young lady, who is a volunteer at the ‘Refresh’ group at Cancercare and Rose Rawcliffe, a school cook at Morecambe Bay Community Primary School who also runs a school breakfast club.
A raffle held on the night raised £954 for Team Reece.