It was a night of tears, laughter, triumph and ticker tape.
After 18 months that brought so much hardship and heartache, the first YorkMix Hero Awards were an unabashed celebration of all that is good in the world: courage, kindness, generosity and community spirit.
A huge audience packed in to the Principal Hotel for the awards ceremony, hosted by Ben Fry and Laura Castle of the YorkMix Radio Breakfast Show
The Lord Mayor of York, Chris Cullwick, and the Sheriff of York, Cllr Ashley Mason, were among the special guests, and presented awards.
“Tonight we are here to celebrate the heroics of some amazing people who had no super powers to protect them from the virus over the last 18 months, but still managed to go above and beyond, some battling Covid on the frontline and some just making sure life continued despite the pandemic,” Laura told the audience.
Twelve honours were given out to York and North Yorkshire heroes, in categories including Community Champion, Incredible Child of the Year and Neighbour of the Year.
The 12 winners each got a beautiful glass trophy, with the adults also getting an engraved bottle of York Gin, and the children a selection of potions from The Potions Cauldron. All 38 finalists got a Hero Certificate.
You can read about all the finalists and their incredible stories here.
York singer songwriter Maggie Wakeling sang beautifully before the awards presentations began, and people generously supported the raffle raising funds for those heroes at York Rescue Boat.
The ceremony was live streamed on Facebook – and you can watch it here. So – who are the YorkMix Heroes 2021?
The Best Boss Award
Winner: Julie Nutbrown
Finalists: Simon Grace, Tory Hardy
Sponsored by Minster Windows
Julie works for the NHS and has kept everything running smoothly throughout the pandemic. Always happy to spend time with her staff she goes above and beyond to support her team and get the best out of them. She ensures an exceptionally high standard of service is delivered to all patients and works together with all her team to achieve that.
The Community Champion
Winner: Helen Moran
Finalists: Tracy Ostle, Dr Mike Holmes
Sponsored by King’s Fish and Chips
Right at the beginning of lockdown in 2020 Helen decided to set up a Facebook page called Malton and Norton Sharing, so anyone in our local community could ask for help, post any enquiries, offer help to those that need it and the page has been a lifeline for hundreds of people. Helen not only runs the page but has raised thousands of pounds for local lad Jack Tyeman, Jack was left with life changing injuries after an accident but has never lost his love of motorbikes and maintaining them. Helen set about raising funds to get Jack a shed built with full wheelchair access.
The Environmental Hero
Winner: Erin Graeney
Finalists: Carl Alsop, Paul Wiley
Sponsored by D.B.D. Cleaning Ltd
Erin is eight years old and is extremely committed to preserving the environment we all share. She created and voiced a mini documentary last year about the over use of plastics and the effects it has on marine life. Erin actively pushes both family and friends to respect and give back to the world we all live in. She encourages staying away from single use plastics, she is mindful at home with what can seem like trivial things, turns taps off when brushing teeth, only using electric lights when necessary. She also walks or cycles to school or the park and can often be seen with a litter picker collecting discarded rubbish and disposing of it properly.
Fundraiser of the Year
Winner: Marie Hughes
Finalists: Evie Langan, Keigan Freeman-Hacker
Sponsored by WorkwithYorkshire
Marie is the CEO of OSCAR’s Paediatric Brain Tumour Charity, a York-based charity she set up in 2014 after she lost her son Oscar to a brain tumour. Marie has raised nearly £60,000 in the last 18 months despite it being an incredibly difficult time for her personally. Despite all that has happened, Marie remains committed to fundraising for the fight against brain tumours. Marie has been working closely with Leeds Teaching Hospitals and the University of Leeds to set up a brain tissue bank that will mean brain cancer researchers all over Yorkshire have access to state-of-the-art resources to collect, examine and conserve fresh tissue samples. Marie still keeps fundraising to make sure money is coming through to the charity and the tissue bank. She worked on a family challenge weekend event for over 50 children earlier this year that raised over £20,000.
Marie couldn’t attend the ceremony so her award was picked up by a friend and colleague
The Incredible Child Award
Winner: William Rhodes
Finalists: Bella Fennell, Roxy Hurst
Sponsored by Fancy Dance Shop
William is 12 years old and suffers from a rare condition called Diamond Blackfan Anaemia, it is a form of bone marrow failure, he was born with the illness and needs a blood transfusion every three weeks to survive. He has now received over 200 life-saving transfusions thanks to all the amazing blood donors out there! Despite his daily struggles he hides his illness really well and never really complains. He has been through so much over the years and everybody is so proud of him. Williams family have been supported by the DBA UK Charity since William was around 1 year old, they are only a small charity and rely on fundraising from the family members affected by the illness.
William has helped at fund raising events we have held and over the last few years he has helped to raise in excess of £8,000. William’s strength and courage really does amaze everyone.
Neighbour of the Year
Winner: Heather Cunnington
Finalists: The Gavi Gang, Bev & Henry Curran
Sponsored by Latimer by Clarion Housing Group
Nominated by Lisa Devey who said… Heather is such a brilliant, supportive and inspirational neighbour. She has gone above and beyond to help me through a very difficult time of separation, anxiety and abuse. From helping with tasks, to cheering me up and keeping me level, Heather is always cheerful and very wise! Heather took me and the children out and supported us when I had no cash and needed help. Heather also kept me feeling sane offering a lot of moral support to me in desperate times.
Outstanding Bravery Award
Winner: Sam Nendick
Finalists: Noah Farr, Jess Lee
Sponsored by Mulgrave Properties
On August 27th 2020, 18 year old Sam was driving to York on the way to the Gym when he witnessed a collision near Strensall involving a cyclist and a lorry.
Sam immediately got out of his car and was the first on the scene to help the elderly man involved. The lorry driver was calling an ambulance while Sam and a passer-by was checking his pulse and breathing. It became clear that he wasn’t breathing so Sam started to perform CPR until the emergency services arrived and the paramedic took over from Sam and commented that they Sam and the passer-by had done an amazing job. Sam and the other man continued passing equipment to the paramedics as they tried everything to save him. Unfortunately they were unable to save him. His family were extremely proud of Sam, for such a young man of 18 years of age to attempt to deal with such a tragic and difficult situation and to step and to do his best, which he did.
Teacher of the Year
Winner: Miss Jenna Strain and Mr Steve Morton, Selby High
Finalists: Mr Sam Smart, Haxby Road; Mrs Vicky Mitchinson, Poppleton Ousebank Primary
Sponsored by WorkwithSchools
In response to the pandemic, PE teachers Mr Morton and Miss Strain launched a community challenge that inspired hundreds of people to unite and stay active and connected during national and local lockdowns. The daily commitment and time dedicated to making this a success was truly inspiring to all and one that capture widespread media attention. The challenge involved individuals of any age logging their daily activity to have combined effort to made it all the way around the world, stopping at the seven wonders of the world. In total, this managed to get 1,050 people actively involved, helped spread awareness that mental health does matter, and brought the whole community together.
Parent/Guardian of the Year
Winner: Helen Wardell
Finalists: Thelma Harker, Patricia Heald
Sponsored by York Sport Village
Helen’s daughter Lucy said: My mum is one of a kind. She has worked through every single one of the lockdowns in a school as they stayed open for key worker children. She continuously worked even though she is at risk herself and so is my younger brother. She went through a very rough patch in the third lockdown, yet still went to school with a smile on her face and was there to help my brother with homework and schoolwork when she got home. She is truly one of a kind
Volunteer of the Year
Winner: Kym Brown
Finalists: Helen El Gmati, Jordan Cook
Sponsored by Kings Carpets & Flooring
Prior to lockdown Kym set up and ran the Hoping Street kitchen. When she was told to stop during lockdown she then decided to continue, but by doing a door to door service for York’s homeless and those in need. Hot cooked food and clothes parcels were being delivered most days in between her day job as an NHS nurse! Often finishing her shift at the hospital then collecting food from supermarkets and then sorted in to hampers whilst a few other volunteers were cooking hot meals. For Kym this is just who she is and never looks or wants any acknowledgment.
Business Hero Award
Winner: Emily Pickard from York Mumbler
Finalists: First York, Indigo Greens
Sponsored by Yorwaste
York Mumbler was set up by Emily Pickard in 2015. Originally a Facebook community, York Mumbler is now a comprehensive website and online community intended to make life easier for parents in York. It covers everything you need to know from pregnancy through to teens and Emily is someone everybody knows and trusts. During the pandemic the business had to rapidly adapt with a full website reorganisation and new, free resources created to continue to support the community during the crisis. Emily and the team sprung into action during a time of uncertainty and the start of what would become a year long journey of home schooling, work & home life balancing act to respond to the many scared and confused parents across the city.
People’s Choice Award
Winner: Vaccination Volunteers
Finalists: The Supper Collective
St Leonard’s Hospice
York BID Street Rangers
Sponsored by Yorkshire Profiles
This was the award voted for by you. And the award went to the Vaccination Volunteers – for all those who have given their time to work in the vaccination clinics across York and North Yorkshire.