COMMUNITY heroes from across Blackburn with Darwen were crowned at the 2019 Community Volunteer Awards held in King Georges Hall.

21 awards were presented to individuals and groups who go the extra mile to support others and help make their neighbourhoods better places to live.

Graham Shackleton of Mill Hill FC was awarded the lifetime achievement award for three decades of dedication to grassroots football.

Graham was nominated for not only being a great manager at the club, but also a fantastic ambassador and role model for young players during the last 32 years.

He said: "We started a football team to prevent boys going down the wrong path – I never dreamt it would grow like it has.

"We have created something that people from within the community can take part in and be proud of."

Neil Mistry was named volunteer of the year for the work he does with Community Spirit, a homelessness charity he co-founded.

Despite working full-time, Neil spends most of his evenings providing food, shelter and support for local homeless people.

The Grass Roots Community Action Award was won by Kay Kareem in recognition of her hard work running not one, but two local community centres – at Accrington Road and Little Harwood.

95-year-old Renee Black received the integration award for her work with Blackburn with Darwen Interfaith Forum over 20 years, helping to build positive relationships between people from different religious backgrounds.

And the good neighbour award went to Peter Wallace in recognition of everything that he does to keep his neighbourhood safe, clean and tidy and the support he gives to his neighbours – everything from putting bins out, keeping sheds safely locked and picking up litter.

Leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council, Cllr Mohammed Khan, said: "I have always said that Blackburn with Darwen is one of the friendliest, kindest and caring places you can find and that is in large part down to the many volunteers that we’re blessed with.

"They touch every part of local services and support people in a variety of ways, making such a huge difference to people’s lives.

"It was wonderful to give them the recognition they deserve through the awards.

"The presentation evening was such a positive, uplifting event and I feel proud to have been in the room with so many dedicated and selfless individuals.

"Without them, Blackburn with Darwen would not be the great place that it is, and I put on record my sincere thanks to them."

Garth Hodgkinson, chief executive of Community CVS, added: "We asked the public to nominate their community heroes, those people who they felt deserved recognition for the volunteering work that they do – and we were staggered to receive over 300 nominations."

Denise Park, chief executive of Blackburn with Darwen Council, said: "We are incredibly fortunate to have so many kind hearted and community spirited people in Blackburn with Darwen who are willing to give their time to support others and make the borough a better place.

"As a local authority, we value their support immensely. Well done to them all."

Culture, Leisure & Sport Award:

Individual winner – George Davies of Blackburn Harriers

Group winner – Blackburn with Darwen Library Service volunteers

Health & Wellbeing Award:

Individual winner – Paul Walker of Change, Grow, Live

Group winner – Re:fresh volunteers

Prosperity, Learning & Employment Award:

Individual winner – Kyle Caulfield of Blackburn with Darwen Carers

Group winner – Lasting Powers of Attorney group, Blackburn with Darwen Carers

Environment Award:

Individual winner – Tariq Mahmood of Keep Blackburn Tidy

Group winner – Keep Darwen Tidy

Grass Roots Community Action Award:

Individual winner – Kay Kareem, of Accrington Road & Little Harwood Community Centres

Group winner – St Oswald’s Holiday Club

Integration Award:

Individual winner – Renee Black of Blackburn with Darwen Interfaith Forum

Group winner – Blackburn with Darwen Interfaith Forum

Community Involvement Award:

Individual winner – Pat McGhee of Blackburn with Darwen Carers

Group winner – Community Spirit

Lindsay Dunn Award:

Individual winner – Neil Mistry of Community Spirit

Group winner – Voice Saturday Breakfast Club

Young People’s Award:

Individual winner – Mumtaz Patel of One Voice Scouts

Group winner – Blackburn with Darwen Youth Justice Service

Volunteer of the Year Award:

Neil Mistry of Community Spirit

Good Neighbour Award:

Peter Wallace

Lifetime Achievement Award:

Graham Shackleton of Mill Hill FC