Unsung heroes recognised in BBC Radio Somerset Make a Difference Awards

Winner Community Group The Good Heart. Picture: MaD Awards
Winner Community Group The Good Heart. Picture: MaD Awards

EIGHT community heroes have been honoured at this year’s BBC Radio Somerset Make a Difference awards.

For the second year more than 10,000 local radio listeners across England nominated an individual or organisation from their area.

This year’s winners were presented with their accolades at Make a Difference awards ceremony at Haynes Motor Museum hosted by BBC Points West’s Alex Lovell and BBC Radio Somerset Breakfast Show presenter Charlie Taylor.

The aim of the awards is to shine a light on the everyday, unsung heroes who go that extra mile for others in their own community.

From thousands of nominations, a shortlist was drawn up and a winner chosen by a local panel of judges.

This year’s Somerset winners are:

  • The Volunteer Award – Matt Sainsbury: chosen by Tommy Banner of the Wurzels for being ‘Mr Ilminster’ organising numerous events in the town throughout the year;

  • The Community Group – The Good Heart: the project aims to nurture, celebrate and spread kindness;

  • The Fundraiser Award – Neil and Nicky Halford, who’ve raised £1.3million to provide extra entertainment and distraction equipment for children in hospital;

  • The Carer Award – Lesley Gates: from Bridgwater turns her passion for cooking and making use of food waste to feed and help others;

  • The Great Neighbour Award – Mary Braddock: improves life in Fivehead by maintaining the local footpaths and co-ordinates the village defibrillator scheme;

  • The Bravery Award – Finley Larcombe: The 11-year-old showed courage while undergoing extensive treatment for leukaemia since he was first diagnosed aged eight;

  • The Green Award – Terri Pitts: for co-ordinating the community fridge to save food waste from going to landfill every week;

  • The Together Award – Natalie Dyson: who has helped match hundreds of Ukrainians with host families in Somerset.

Gareth Roberts, executive editor at BBC Radio Somerset, said: “These awards have been a really humbling experience.

"To hear the stories of so many people and organisations across Somerset who really do go above and beyond to help others in their communities whether it’s being neighbourly, volunteering, or raising money to help others, it’s truly heart-warming.

"I think most of us know someone who helps others, whether it’s something small like a weekly visit or trip to the garden centre, to organising Christmas lights and free family fun days, all of these things make the lives of people within our communities that little bit better.

"More impressively they are done without looking for recognition or reward.

"We already know that Somerset is full of amazing, inspirational and selfless people but these awards just reinforce that and they’ve given us the opportunity to say thank you to just a handful of those making a difference.”

Chris Burns, controller local audio commissioning, said: “The Make a Difference Awards are always an amazing experience, and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the individuals who have gone above and beyond to help their communities.

"We always really enjoy hearing the nominees' and winners’ stories and sharing them with our listeners.

"A huge thank you to everyone who took the time to nominate someone and a huge congratulations to our winners.”