BRAVERY, bold ideas and brilliant projects were all celebrated at last night’s Community Champions event in Partick Burgh Hall.

But for many, the spirit of the event was captured in the shape of one man – Robert Alston.

The inspirational winner of the Senior Award took up volunteering after the death of his much-loved wife, Valerie.

“Valerie was a great community worker, she did so much for others,” explained the softly spoken retired printer.

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“When she died, I wanted to continue her good work.”

As well as running music lessons for local people of all ages, Robert is a volunteer lockkeeper on the canal and from Monday, is the new chairperson of Woodside Community Council.

“I have lived in Glasgow for 45 years, since I moved here from America,” smiled Robert.

“Doing all this for the people I have come to know as part of this wonderful community is a chance for me to give something back.

“None of it is a chore - I am just happy to help.”

Neighbourhoods across the north west, from Maryhill to Drumchapel, turned out in force to support the men, women and children who make a difference to their local areas.

Event host, singer Michelle McManus – who rounded off the evening with a roof-raising performance - said it was a privilege to be part of the long-running awards series.

“As a Glasgow girl, I know the good work that’s done all over the city, and I’m proud to be part of tonight,” she said.

Evening Times editor Graham Shields said the final heat of the year had been a fantastic tribute to the people of the north-west.

“We have just launched a new series in the Evening Times called Thanks for the Memories, which encourages locals to share their stories of Glasgow’s rich past,” he said.

“There are so many examples of wonderful citizens, working hard for the benefit of their communities, and it’s a privilege to hear all about their experiences.”

Representatives of our Community Champions partners, Glasgow City Council, Glasgow Community Planning Partnership, Glasgow Housing Association, Scottish Fire and Rescue and Police Scotland, were also full of praise for the winners and runners-up.

Bailie Allan Stewart of Glasgow City Council said: “Glasgow was made by people coming together and the same is true today.

“I’m proud to be part of this city and everyone here tonight should be proud of the difference your contribution makes.”

Glasgow Housing Association’s Area Asset Planning Manager Gerry McHugh paid tribute to all the winners and finalists, saying it was fantastic to be part of the event.

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Councillor Mohammad Razaq, representing Glasgow Community Planning Partnership, said everyone in the room deserved to be winner, while Scottish Fire and Rescue Group Manager Stephen McGrath applauded the “valuable” efforts of everyone who played their part in making Glasgow a great and inspiring place to live.

Chief Superintendent Brian McInulty said: “Being here tonight and hearing all of these wonderful stories of dedication and hard work makes me proud to be a Glaswegian.”

Delighted finalists said the evening had been a great success.

Jackie Donaldson, long-serving volunteer receptionist at Community Central Hall in Maryhill was narrowly pipped at the post for the Senior Award.

“I don’t think I’m anything special, I love what I do and I think it’s great to be able to help people,” she said.

Her colleague, depute chief executive Gillian Middleton added: “The fact that Jackie and so many of the finalists here tonight don’t think they do anything exceptional is exactly what makes them exceptional.

“Jackie is the heart of our team, she is what makes it all work so well, and we’re extremely grateful to her for that.”

Felicity Arthur and Colin Whiteford said being nominated for Community Champions had helped raised the profile of their hardworking fencing club, Salle Rollo, which is based in the High School of Glasgow.

“Our aim is to show everyone how accessible and fun fencing can be, and being shortlisted for the Sport Award is a real boost in helping us do that,” said Felicity.

“We’ve had lots of interest since the Rio Olympics and now, most of our members are juniors, which is really good for the future of the club as we prepare to celebrate our tenth anniversary.”

Colin added: “It’s really great to be nominated – to know that people in the community are noticing you and supporting you, and appreciating what you do. It shows that we are having an impact, which is fantastic.”

Some of the biggest cheers of the evening were reserved for Maryhill Integration Network, an inspiring organisation which creates opportunities for people from asylum seeker, refugee, BME, migrant and local communities to meet.

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Volunteer Khaled Emkidh, who is 19, said: “I got involved because I like helping people.

“The Network does an amazing job, especially now, when it’s so important that all the different communities of Scotland come together.”

He smiled: “Glasgow is very good at doing that – it is the most welcoming city in the world.

“Events like the Evening Times Community Champions Awards show that and we are very pleased to be part of it.”

Evening Times Editor Graham Shields said: “I love Community Champions events, because it’s great hearing about the tremendous work done by members of the community. All of the people here tonight work hard to make the north west of Glasgow a better place to live for everyone, not just their own families, friends and neighbours.

He added: “I’m delighted the Evening Times and our partners, Glasgow City Council, Glasgow Community Planning Partnership, Glasgow Housing Association, Scottish Fire and Rescue and Police Scotland – can pay tribute to them.

“It’s a real privilege to meet them all.”