Best of Sunderland celebrated at Shining Stars awards

By James Robinson

A glittering awards ceremony has highlighted the outstanding achievements of some of Wearside's best and brightest over the past year.

Sunderland's Shining Stars of 2020/21 have been named in an awards ceremony that took place at the Stadium of Light.

The Shining Stars City Finals Awards Ceremony was held on Wednesday October 6, celebrating the people who have contributed to their communities throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and hosted by Sunderland City Council.

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When the UK went into lockdown in March last year, it highlighted the importance of volunteering, supporting and looking after the city’s most vulnerable residents.

The people of Sunderland were given the opportunity to thank the individuals, groups and organisations who went above and beyond to help, by nominating them for one of several categories in the Shining Stars Awards.

Winners and highly commended runners up were then chosen from each of the five areas of the city by a panel of judges.

Rita Grey Chairof Easington Lane Community action Group winner of organiser of the year with Mayor Harry Truman (North News & Pictures Ltd)

The area winners then attended the City Final Awards to find out who the overall winners would be.

The winners were:

  • Organisation of the Year (sponsored by Sunderland City Council) – ELCAP
    ELCAP were the lead organisation of the Coalfield hub during the pandemic. The team assisted residents of Easington lane with food banks, minibus transport, collecting prescriptions, and general health and wellbeing calls to residents.
  • Outstanding Contribution to the Community (Over 18) (sponsored by Sun FM) – Graeme Riddle
    Graeme, 60, stepped up to be a volunteer ambulance driver for the North East Ambulance Service when furloughed.
  • Young Person’s Outstanding Contribution to the Community (Under 18) (sponsored by Together for Children) – Harvey Gordon
    Harvey volunteered his own time during lockdown to help the community, from dog walking to supporting the elderly and vulnerable, shopping, packing and delivering resource packs.
  • Sunderland’s Most Neighbourly Neighbour (supported by Northumbria Police) – Jenny McQuillan
    Jenny voluntarily looked after an elderly couple, helping them with meals, transport and care. When things took a turn for the worse, Jenny went out of her way to support and help the family arrange a loved one’s funeral.
  • Best Use of Digital Technology for Communication (sponsored by Step up Sunderland) – AAA Sports
    Unable to deliver sessions as normal, AAA Sports created online virtual sessions to keep their students active and helped them keep up physical activity and social interaction.
  • Community Group that has Supported Residents’ Mental Health and Wellbeing (bponsored by Everyone Active) – Washington Hub Volunteers
    Washington Hub Volunteers went over and above throughout the whole of the pandemic, helping the vulnerable and supporting with shopping and prescriptions
  • Community Fundraising Group (sponsored by The Bridges) - Mark Allison
    When lockdown stopped his plans to run around the world, Mark completed a duathlon on his driveway to continue to raise funds for St Benedict’s Hospice, which he has done for 30 years.

Cllr Linda Williams, Portfolio Holder for Vibrant City, said: “The Shining Stars Awards has highlighted the brilliant work that has taken place within our city throughout the pandemic, and hearing about the work and effort our winners put into their communities is hugely inspiring.

Washington Hub Volunteers winners of the community group which has supported residents mental health and wellbeing (North News & Pictures Ltd)

“I would like to thank everyone who won at the Shining Stars Awards, as well as everyone who was nominated. Your work does not go unrecognised, your efforts helped many residents get through a really tough and unprecedented time.

“Volunteering is such an important activity in our city, and I encourage anyone who has been inspired by all those who have been shortlisted to get involved and help within their community by signing up to Sunderland City Council’s volunteering platform.”

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