Celebrating the Pride of Milton Keynes

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Some of the city’s most caring, brave and deserving citizens were honoured at our annual Pride in MK awards ceremony on Friday night.

The occasion, held at the Hilton Hotel in Kents Hill, recognises the hard work, self-sacrifice and determination shown by the people of Milton Keynes, with 10 awards celebrating their achievements over the last 12 months.

This year there were 10 awards up for grabs, with Citizen readers invited to nominate the local people who they believe have helped make a difference in the community and in the lives of others.

Our special guest speaker this year was popular EastEnders’ star Nitin Ganatra, who plays Masood in the BBC soap. He also presented the awards in 2012 and once again proved a huge hit with the audience and award winners.

As well as honouring some of the city’s most inspirational people, the awards ceremony also supported the Children’s Air Ambulance with a charity raffle and highlighted the charitable efforts of the night’s two main sponsors, Costa and Stanair.

The first award of the night, for Care in the Community, went to Janet Aisbett who has been instrumental in bringing families together in the Franklins Court area of Wolverton, securing funds for play equipment, organising parties and educating children about their environment with her planting scheme, and providing after school care too.

With Janet unable to make the ceremony, the award was collected on her behalf by fellow volunteer Steve Harrison.

The next award, for Service with a Smile, went to Barbara Reeves, the founder of the Can do MK group for people who experience social isolation and who don’t find life easy.

She arranges regular clubs and fun activities to help those people, many of whom have physical, mental or health problems. Barbara would later collect the Unsung Hero award too.

The third award was for our Young Achiever of 2013 and was won by 14-year-old Emily Dent. At Easter time she was diagnosed with a life threatening brain tumour and had to undergo an eight hour operation. But in the days leading up to it, Emily remained brave, strong and courageous.

She is still recovering, but has been inspired to fund raise for brain tumour charities as a result of her own experience.

The Friendly Neighbour award went to Ian Wright whose public spirited nature has made him extremely popular in Fishermead, while the Excellence in Education award belonged to Oxley Park Academy for the team’s efforts in keeping their children motivated and excited about going to school every day.

The award for Making MK Safer was won by Terry Ayers, Rob Harriman, Mathew Beale and Tony Marsala for their outstanding efforts in cleaning up Central Milton Keynes, while the Fundraiser of the Year prize went to Katie Elmer for Emily’s Star.

After Katie tragically lost her baby daughter Emily to the genetic disorder Trisomy 18, she set up the Emily’s Star charity to help raise funds to support local families with ill or premature babies and for specialist nurses. In less than 16 months, the charity has raised nearly £20,000.

Sam Hindmarch was the winner of this year’s Bravery Award. A few months ago, Sam woke up in the middle of the night to the smell of smoke and soon realised the flat a few doors down was on fire. His first thought was the safety of his neighbours. He knocked on doors to wake people up and get them outside, and after seeing someone trapped inside a burning flat, he somehow managed to get the window up and pulled him to safety.

And finally the People’s Choice Award was won by the Henry Allen Appeal.

Four-year-old Henry has Stage 4 Neuroblastoma, a rare cancer that affects young children. His family and friends have rallied round to support Henry by setting up the charity in his name, with the aim of ensuring he gets the best treatment available.

Donation have so far reached more than £1000,000 for the much loved little boy with an incredibly strong spirit to survive and the team of the Henry Allen Appeal have done so much in such a short space of time.

All the award winners received a fantastic ovation from the audience for their selfless acts of charity, public spirit or bravery.

If you know somebody who deserves recognition at next year’s awards, look out for details of how to nominate them for Pride in Milton Keynes 2014.