OUR city’s unsung heroes had their moment in the spotlight last night as the Glasgow Community Champions were crowned.

The banqueting hall at City Chambers was transformed into the biggest and best party venue in town as more than 400 people paid tribute to our 2017 stars.

The event, supported by our partners Glasgow City Council, Glasgow Community Planning Partnership, Glasgow Housing Association, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and Police Scotland, was a fantastic success.

Ten awards were presented on the night, including the Lord Provost’s Award which went to Selina Hales, founder of Refuweegee, and a special Editor’s Award, presented to community stalwart and former chief executive of the Glasgow Older People’s Welfare Association, Sheena Glass.

A gobsmacked Selina said: “I am utterly overwhelmed. I said at the beginning of the night it didn’t matter if you didn’t win at these events, because you are surrounded by so many amazing people doing incredible things. This is a real honour.”

Refuweegee provides welcome packs, including much-loved ‘letters fae the locals’ to people newly arrived in the city, often fleeing from war and persecution. The popular project has grown from an online campaign to a place where people can volunteer, gain work experience and develop strong community links.

Sheena Glass has been a huge supporter of the Community Champions programme making hundreds of nominations over the years – and never putting herself forward.

She has also worked tirelessly for the older people of the city who, in her words, “should not be ignored, nor pushed to one side, nor forgotten.”

The Team Award went to Fuse Youth Work, who have been running activities for young people in the north east for 10 years. As well as drama sessions, sports clubs and youth employment groups, they hold drugs and alcohol awareness events and much more.

Volunteer Paul Brady said: “We are surprised and delighted. We’re proud of what we have achieved and it’s great to get recognition for it.”
One-woman whirlwind Marilyn Cunningham, who runs Clyde Community Hall, won the Individual Award.

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The popular hall runs youth clubs, fitness sessions, charity nights and community events, and Marilyn is at the heart of it all.

She said: “I needed a stretcher to get me up on to that stage – I can’t believe it. I don’t do this for awards, I do it because I love it.”

The wonderful Family Addiction Support Service won the Public Service Award. It helps families coping with addiction, providing training and bereavement counselling and running 21 support groups around the city.

The group, which now has 200 members is a lifeline for those in need. 
Social worker Carrie-Ann Logan and chairman Jim Harrigan were ecstatic to win.

“This is a wonderful way to raise our profile,” said Carrie-Ann. “It’s such an exciting night.”

The Senior Award was presented to Violet Robertson who runs Govanhill Stroke Club.

Hundreds of people have benefited from the club, which provides brain-stimulating games, entertainment and lunch to people recovering from the effects of stroke.

Violet, 83, who lives in Mount Florida, said: “I’m just delighted to be here –  I can’t believe I have won.”

The Uniformed Services Award went to PC Colette Farren, Knightswood Secondary campus officer who has become a popular and well-respected member of the school community. Thanks to her, the school has tackled a community litter problem, improving the local streets and winning the support of residents.

PC Farren said: “After 17 years in the job, being campus officer is the icing on the cake. It’s hard work and I spend a lot of my own time doing different things, but it’s worth every second. I’m on cloud nine!”

The Sports Award was presented to Glasgow Eagles, a club which helps young people who have special needs, mental health conditions and disabilities to achieve sporting excellence.

Ashley Fleming, one of the young players at the club, said she was “very proud and excited” to be at the event.

The Health and Wellbeing Award went to Steven Thompson, also known as The Homeless Barber, who gives up his time to provide free haircuts for homeless people.

He was unable to attend the grand final, but Herald and Times editor-in-chief Donald Martin collected the award on his behalf.

Superstar volunteer Megan Johnston, who has volunteered at assorted community initiatives since she turned 13, and Abercorn Secondary were named joint winners of the Young Award.

Abercorn pupils are respected, hardworking community volunteers in a whole range of projects from charity shops to foodbanks and local nurseries, despite facing their own health and learning challenges.

Megan said: “I don’t want praise for anything, I just love what I do, but it’s nice to be recognised.

Abercorn sixth year pupil Erika Mills summed up the feelings of  her fellow students – and all the winners. “We are over the moon!” she smiled.

All images courtesy of Mark Gibson/Herald & Times Group