Winners of Visitor Sunshine Awards 2016 announced

Sunshine Award winners Ivan Harrison from Nice 'n' Sleazy and Rob Ellershaw from The Exchange.
Sunshine Award winners Ivan Harrison from Nice 'n' Sleazy and Rob Ellershaw from The Exchange.
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A fundraiser, a local pub, a darts champion, a punk festival and the organisers of Morecambe Carnival were the winners at the 2016 Visitor Sunshine Awards.

More than 2,500 Visitor readers cast online and postal votes to decide the winners of our annual community awards.

The awards were presented on Friday night at the Sunshine Ball, sponsored by Wright and Lord, in front of 130 guests at the Midland Hotel.

Morecambe Carnival Committee took the Community Group award ahead of Morecambe Heritage and the Friends of the Winter Gardens.

The Business Award went to The Exchange pub on Regent Road in Morecambe. The other nominees were Bathtime North West and Intec UK.

The Nice 'n' Sleazy punk festival scooped the Entertainment Award, the third time the Morecambe punk event has won a Sunshine award. Runners up were singer Ashleigh Wood and circus performer Holly Johnstone.

The Unsung Hero award went to fundraiser Gary Butler who will later this year walk the Great Wall of China to raise money for St John's Hospice in memory of his parents, after recently having major hip surgery. Runners up were inspirational teacher Linda Hartley and Morecambe champions Debbie Cain and Christine Stebbing.

Darts star Dave 'Chizzy' Chisnall edged out young go-karter Thomas Neill for the Sport Award, with Morecambe Cricket Club first team also on the shortlist.

Also on the night, The Visitor awarded our annual Ambassador Award to motorcycle ace John McGuinness. John was unable to attend in person due to racing commitments but sent a thank you video accepting the award.

Money from a raffle was raised for CancerCare. A replica of the Midland Hotel mascot 'Sam the Dog' was also auctioned, raising £100 for the charity by successful bidder Rob Ellershaw of The Exchange. Last month Sam earned news headlines all over the world when he was lost in space after a Morecambe school science experiment.

The Visitor editor Chris Daggett also presented Neil Townsend, chief executive of CancerCare, with a cheque for £1,000 donated by Jim Cadman from the Morecambe and Wise appeal, and £100 from local fundraiser Tony Smart MBE.

Singer Stuart Michaels and guitarist Howard Haigh provided entertainment on the night. The Visitor's Greg Lambert hosted the event.

The Sunshine Award reader category winners were decided after readers nominated who they felt was deserving of an award. The nominees were whittled down into a shortlist of three by The Visitor editorial panel, then readers voted for the winners.

The full list of winners and nominees, with voting percentages, is as follows:

Ambassador Award sponsored by Wright and Lord and decided by The Visitor editorial team

John McGuinness

All other awards voted for by the readers

Sport Award sponsored by Cumberland Building Society

Winner: Dave Chisnall 39.2%

Runners Up: Thomas Neill 35.8%, Morecambe Cricket Club First Team 25%

Unsung Hero Award sponsored by Specsavers

Winner: Gary Butler 43.8%

Runners Up: Debbie Cain and Christine Stebbing 32.4%, Linda Hartley 23.8%

Entertainment Award sponsored by The Ship at Caton

Winner: Nice 'n' Sleazy festival 54.7%

Runners up: Ashleigh Wood 22.9%, Holly Johnstone 22.4%

Business Award sponsored by the Arndale Morecambe Bay

Winner: The Exchange 62.8%

Runners up: Intec UK 18.1% Bathtime North West 17.1%

Community Group award sponsored by Costain

Winner: Morecambe Carnival Committee 58.2%

Runners up: Friends of the Winter Gardens 25.4% Morecambe Heritage 16.4%