Dozens of volunteers from Blackburn with Darwen's communities were thanked for their contributions at a special awards ceremony.

The Community Volunteer Awards, at King George’s Hall on Thursday, were hosted by the BBC’s Graham Liver.

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

Leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council, Councillor Phil Riley, said: "Blackburn with Darwen is a friendly, neighbourly place with a strong ‘can do’ spirit.

"I’m always hugely impressed and inspired by the hundreds of people in our borough who give their time and energy, week in, week out, providing support of all kinds across our communities, with the aim of making people’s lives better.

"These contributions cannot be understated and I’m really pleased that we can come together at least once a year to recognise and reward our volunteers.

"Thank you for everything that you do."

A record-breaking 713 nominations were received, which is the highest number ever for the awards, showing the gratitude that people feel for all the work put in by the borough’s volunteers and helpers over the past year.

Group winners of the Health and Wellbeing Award, Shad Chefs, said: "It was a surreal night.

"To be stood in that room with the creme de la creme of Blackburn with Darwen's Volunteer community was more than enough for us.

"To then walk away with the award for the Community Health and Wellbeing Group Award was the icing on the cake.

"We love what we do and love experiences like this. On to the next."

Lancashire Telegraph: The Community Volunteer Awards were jointly arranged and hosted by Blackburn with Darwen Council and Community CVS, with support from local businesses and community organisations.

Garth Hodgkinson, chief executive of Community CVS, said: "Each year I am blown away by the voluntary efforts that take place within Blackburn with Darwen.

"Anyone and everyone can volunteer. The youngest nomination was aged eight, and the oldest aged 90.

"To everyone who already volunteers: thank you for helping to make a difference. To everyone who might not have taken the plunge: why not have a go? Together we can achieve so much more.

"May I thank our 18 sponsors who support the awards. Without your support, we would be unable to put on this remarkable event."

Denise Park, Chief Executive of Blackburn with Darwen Council, added: "Attending the Community Volunteer Awards is always heartening and uplifting – I really enjoy celebrating our borough’s amazing volunteer.

"They make me even more proud of our borough and the community spirit that we have here.

"I’m delighted this year that a Council employee and a councillor are among the winners. Congratulations to them both, along with all the other very worthy award winners."

Here is the complete list of winners for the Community Volunteer Awards 2023:

Health and Wellbeing Award:

Individual – Si Donnell

Group – Shad Chefs

Prosperity, Learning and Employment:

Individual – Vicky McGurk

Group – Community & Business Partners

Grass Roots Community Action:

Individual – Sarah Bernasconi-Parsons

Group – Clifton Arms

Young People’s Award:

Individual – Becky Shaw

Group – BwD Parents in Partnership

Renee Black Award:


Environment Award:

Individual – Roy Parker

Group – Blackburn Volunteer Lock Keepers

Smile Award:

Winner – Blackburn Central High School

Runners-up – Patricia Panagachi, Witton Park High School; Mustafa Erfan, Witton Park High School

Culture, Leisure and Sporting Life Award:

Individual – John Clucas

Group – Blackburn Pride

Lindsay Dunn Award:

Individual – Sarah Bernasconi-Parsons

Group – Ayup Sultan Trust

CVS Special Award for Outstanding Service:

John East

Community Involvement Award:

Clifton Arms

Good Neighbour Award:

Roy Parker

Volunteer of the Year:

Sarah Bernasconi-Parsons

Lifetime Achievement Award:

Gordon Fairweather