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'Never been prouder to be a Mancunian': Stars in awe at inspirational heroes honoured in Pride of Manchester Awards

By Dianne Bourne

It was an emotional night at the Pride of Manchester awards as a galaxy of stars led the tributes to our city's inspirational community heroes. Elbow star Guy Garvey summed up just how special the night was as he told the audience: "I've never been prouder to be a Mancunian than I am tonight" after hearing the incredible stories of triumph over adversity and community spirit.

Guy presented the lifetime achievement award on the night to Professor Tony Redmond from Failsworth, who has deployed doctors around the world to deal with humanitarian disasters since 1988 when he founded UK-Med. Guy said: "I've never been prouder to come from Manchester after reading about your lifelong achievements.

"All the way through tonight the theme that I keep coming back to, the theme that everyone listening has heard is that no matter who you are, I'm there for you. I know Manchester has a big heart because I've written more love songs to the city than I have to any person."

READ MORE: Meet the Pride of Manchester 2022 winners

He continued: "I've seen some amazing things and I've met some amazing people, I've met nearly all my heroes - and I can with my hand on my heart say I've never been prouder to be a Mancunian than I am tonight."

Guy's feelings were echoed throughout the night as community champions were honoured on stage at the Pride of Manchester awards event, in partnership with TSB, held at the Kimpton Clocktower Hotel in Manchester. Hosted by Kym Marsh, the evening saw extraordinary Mancs honoured for the amazing things they do to bring together and nurture Manchester’s communities.

(Manchester Evening News)

Professor Erinma Bell MBE was honoured after devoting her life to protecting young people from violent crime and giving them opportunities to build a bright future. In accepting her award from Spice Girls superstar Mel B, Erinma said: "Our young people growing up in Manchester today we boast a multi-cultural Manchester, they have so much to learn about the world from just being right here in Manchester.

"We should enhance that learning for them. They have so many opportunities. We, as elders, should open not only a window of opportunity but those doors of opportunity because they are our tomorrow."

Mel B presents Professor Erinma Bell MBE with her Pride of Manchester award (Manchester Evening News)

Spice Girl Melanie B, fresh from receiving her MBE, presented Erinma with her award. She said: "You are such an inspiration, thank you for everything that you do, you just don't stop do you?

"You're a professor and you've got an MBE, I got mine the other day too! I want to say thank you, you've touched so many people's lives you are making such a difference, where would Manchester be without her?"

X Factor star and Hits Radio presenter Fleur East praised Child of Courage Pixibelle Sykes in an emotional speech onstage. PixieBelle, 9, from Ashton-under-Lyne, has endured four brain operations, lost her hair three times, and has also lost sight in one of her eyes after gruelling chemotherapy treatment.

Pixibelle Sykes with Fleur East (Manchester Evening News)

But she and her family have been determined to give back to the Royal Manchester Children's Hospital that has helped her in fundraising for a new MRI scanner.

Fleur said: "You are so inspirational, you've shown so much courage, so much strength, so much determination and you've persevered through everything you've been through and you're only nine years old. If you can survive what you've already been through, in this big bad world, you can conquer anything."

TSB Community Hero was awarded to Jane Gregory who was inspired to set up Salford Survivors after two local women were murdered by their abusive ex-partners. She had grown up in a violent household herself, spending time in shelters and homeless units and was watching history repeat itself within her own family.

Angela Griffin with Jane Gregory (Manchester Evening News)

Former Coronation Street and Waterloo Road star Angela Griffin was almost in tears as she presented Jane with her award. Angela said: "The strength it takes to leave an abusive relationship is massive.

"To then turn that on its head to help other people is even greater and your relatability, your accessibility and the fact that you've been there and the community that you can help and be there for is awe-inspiring. I use the word inspirational a lot through the day, yet THIS is where inspirational should be used, and awe-inspiring and amazing.

"You're doing incredible work and its not just the women, like you say, it's the kids as well. It's breaking that cycle because it does carry on. But with people like you are around there is a possibility for it to stop."

The Chase star Anne Hegerty (Manchester Evening News)

Emmerdale star Chris Bisson, one of the judges at the Pride of Manchester Awards, hailed the work of James Anderson who received a special recognition award. He founded community interest company Depher, which provides free or heavily-subsidised services to keep people warm and safe.

And The Chase star Anne Hegerty spoke movingly of her own past struggles in handing over the award to James on the night. Anne said: "In a previous life, before I was a Chaser, I struggled with paying bills myself.

"I did actually have someone to help, I had a fantastic social worker, and I know what it is like to desperately need someone that you can lean on and someone that will not judge you and comes in and says "we're going to fix this". You do such amazing, amazing work, I'm so proud to give this award."

Mike Palmer received his award from Ricky Hatton and Rebecca Adlington (Manchester Evening News)

Also winning a special recognition award was Mike Palmer, a firefighter at Manchester Airport, who has devoted his life to raising money for others. When his daughter Beth took her own life in March 2020, aged just 17, his mission became personal.

And guests fought back tears as he told his story on stage, while boxer Ricky Hatton spoke of how moving he found Mike's story as he presented the award alongside Olympic legend Rebecca Adlington.

Teenager of courage was awarded to Liam Preece, 15, from Stalybridge, for continuing to share his gruelling journey with cancer treatment to help others. While the young fundraisers award went to Ruben and Elena Evans-Guillen, 11, from Warrington who brought their smiles and laughter to the ceremony.

Moira Stuart with Lydia Ina (Manchester Evening News)

The Marcus Rashford Children's champion was awarded to the inspiring Lydia Ina who has given a home to around 300 children during 23 years as a foster carer with Manchester City Council. She received her award from legendary broadcaster Moira Stuart on the night who was full of praise for Lydia's tireless work. She said: "You have moved me so deeply, thank you so much."

Coronation Street stars Julia Goulding, Sair Khan and Shelley King proudly gave an award on the night to PC Simon Toft and PC Alicia Snowden for their extraordinary bravery.

Pc Simon Toft and PC Alicia Snowden with Sair Khan Shelly King and Julia Goulding (Manchester Evening News)

PC Toft and PC Snowden were first on the scene at the medical centre in Stockport where Michael Brannigan was armed with three kitchen knives and a meat cleaver and threatening to stab staff and patients but bravely apprehended him.

Sair said: "You play such a vital part in our community. I think I speak for a lot of people in this room to say I couldn't do what you do. The bravery that you show waking up every single morning, being on the front line, facing dangers like you have is so honourable. From the bottom of our hearts thank you for keeping us safe."

The Pride of Manchester Awards 2022 (MEN Pride of Manchester)

Special recognition also went to Tracey and Phil Payton from Manchester, presented by Cold Feet star John Thomson. Tracey and Phil are the driving force behind the ‘End of Treatment bells’ initiative, which helps people celebrate reaching milestones or finishing treatment in more than 200 hospitals across the UK.

They also got a video message from Man City star Jack Grealish, before John made a special presentation of a signed shirt to the couple.

The M.E.N. Pride of Manchester Awards, in partnership with TSB, will premiere on YouTube on Tuesday May 17 at 7pm.

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Dive Deeper:
Pride of Manchester Awards 2022 winners - Stars to honour unsung heroes
Stars take to the stage to celebrate unsung heroes at Pride of Manchester Awards 2022. Corrie's Kym Marsh will host…
Incredible bravery and immense dedication - the extraordinary winners at The Pride of Manchester awards
From the emergency services award celebrating the best of Manchester's blue light workers, to the spirt of Manchester and special…
Meet the Pride of Manchester 2022 winners
The Pride of Manchester awards celebrate people doing amazing things in our city
Fleur East shares Netflix ambitions and plans for Caroline Flack festival performance
Speaking at the Pride of Manchester Awards on Tuesday, Fleur East discussed how she became involved in the forthcoming festival…
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Katie McGlynn shows off her glowing tan at the Pride of Manchester Awards
The former Coronation Street star wowed in a chic all black outfit at the awards in celebration of Manchester’s unsung…
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The former Coronation Street star dazzled at the awards to celebrate Manchester's finest
Get all your news in one place