The Examiner Community Awards night is now just a week away and today we focus on the three nominations to make the shortlist in the Services to the Community category.
The winner will be revealed at the glittering awards night at the John Smith’s Stadium on Wednesday, June 3.
The Service to Community award is sponsored by The Myers Group, a traditional group of companies solely owned and run by the Myers family in Huddersfield for four generations.
Originally trading within the construction industry with supply of readymixed concrete and building materials, the group more recently expanded into the retail and DIY market by supplying kitchens and bathrooms.
Here are the award nominees:
William Comerford not only saved Deighton Working Men’s Club from going bust, he has since transformed it into a great success.
William – known as Billy – has been involved with the club for 30 years and when he became treasurer in 2005 the club was £130,000 in debt due to falling membership, within 12 hours of being closed down and one of the committee members was in severe danger of losing his home as a result.
But cometh the hour, cometh the man and the club was so lucky it had Billy.
He was nominated by David Macgregor, who said: “Billy managed to get members to raise £9,000 to pay off the bailiffs and organised a loan with Marston’s brewery when no other brewery would help. At the moment the club has more than £20,000 in the bank.”
So the club’s not simply survived, it’s really thrived. Billy managed to get a grant for new windows and fascias, a grant for a disabled toilet and also organised new chairs and carpets plus a revamp of the gents toilets.
The list of jobs he does at the club is endless from painting, DIY, gardening and shopping to setting out tables for events and then glass collecting.
In short, Billy reckons he now spends around 40 voluntarily hours a week at the club.
David added: “He also takes club members to hospital to visit sick relatives and the club has members in nursing homes so Billy visits them and takes other members to see them.
“He fetches members to the club and takes them home again and he also does shopping and collects pensions for some members. When I broke my ankle he went shopping for me and when I could get out of the house he took me shopping in a wheelchair.”
Billy, 68, also drives the club’s pool and snooker team to matches and won’t take a penny in return.
He lived in Deighton for 30 years before moving to Bradley 20 years ago.
Billy is married to Kathleen and the couple have two children Alan and Colette and four grandchildren Caitlin, Gaby, Danny and Alex.
Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association
Young people from the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association are showing exceptional services to the community in Huddersfield.
This has been going on for many years but over the last 12 months the association has taken it to new heights.
AMYA’s aim is also to give young people important life skills by engaging them in community and charitable initiatives.
In partnership with other organisations its work has included planting thousands of trees, cleaning streets, collecting thousands of pounds for charity and helping the elderly and poor. It’s all part of a long-term charitable and community programme that will continue into 2015 and across the next decade.
AMYA Huddersfield has played a key in the national AMYA Mercy for Mankind charity walk, run, cycle, and hike, in which it contributed significantly towards raising £¼m nationwide to support both national and local British charities such as Macmillan Cancer Support and Save the Children UK. Its leaders are Amir Shahzab from Crosland Moor and Tariq Mahmood from Huddersfield.
During the severe UK floods in early 2014 Huddersfield AMYA members received a call about the badly flood-hit Somerset village of Burrowbridge. The area was so badly flooded that some parts could not be entered using rubber dingies.
Kamal Aftab, of Almondbury, who is the Yorkshire regional co-ordinator for AMYA, said: “Our members quickly mobilised and travelled the 450 mile round trip to Somerset. They worked side-by-side with the army, church and local residents into the night lifting sandbags and laying wood chip.”
AMYA has been collecting money for the annual Poppy Appeal for the past two past years and its volunteers have been running a programme for young members to visit elderly homes and children’s wards across Huddersfield and Halifax. AMYA jhas taken significant supplies of food to food banks that are low on provisions and ran a free taxi service for the elderly across December and the New Year so they could attend community dinners and parties. This programme has been in place for years and members who once partook as teenagers now bring their own children to volunteer.
Young AMYA members help other youngsters to find work by writing covering letters, CVs and giving them interview tips. AMYA also organises life skill sessions such as team building days, disaster response courses, non-medical and medical training, academic and sporting activities.
The organisation is 100% non-profit and all activities are self-funded by the voluntary donations of AMYA members. AMYA does not seek money or grants from the government.
Kamal added: “AMYA has offered a tremendous service to Huddersfield and the AMYA members who emerge are rounded, productive and proud British Muslims as a result of serving British society.”
Sara Gill’s commitment to people with learning disabilities is phenomenal.
In 2012 she founded Stanley’s Training Project to help people with learning disabilities – and has been funding most it herself by working up to five nights a week as a nurse in nursing homes.
The main aim of Stanley’s Training Project is to provide people with the skills and confidence to work independently and give them real life work experience and a level 2 or 3 qualification in food hygiene.
Sara, 44, of Cleckheaton, set the project up when she realised there was a real need for something like this.
She was nominated by Alex Beardsley, of Cleckheaton, who said: “The people who come to Sara are often withdrawn, lack the confidence to communicate and have had no prior work experience. Through the sessions Sara does with them the students get the opportunity to work in a real life kitchen setting; purchasing, preparing and serving food to the local community and also community groups.”
The project is funded with limited funds from Kirklees Community Partnerships but the budget doesn’t cover Sara and her time so to keep the project going Sara works nights as a nurse.
From its humble beginnings working with people with learning disabilities the project now operates out of three venues across Kirklees – Dewsbury Moor Sure Start, The Church of the Nazarene, Dewsbury and 23a Westgate, Cleckheaton.
Sara and the Stanley’s team of students provide a café service at Dewsbury Moor Sure Start Centre on a Tuesday and Wednesday lunchtime. All the food made and served is bought, prepared and served by the people with learning disabilities that are on the programme.
Alex added: “Sara is providing these individuals with key life skills as well as the potential of gaining qualifications that could lead to employment. This is something that I don’t see many other organisations doing today. Giving people the tools to help themselves is a fantastic gift and Sara does this spectacularly.”
A year ago Sara saw that there was an opportunity to put the Training Café to better use. With the rise in dementia sufferers and the huge gap in local services and support for sufferers and their carers, Sara started a Friday Activity Café for people with dementia or learning disabilities and their carers. The café runs from 10.30am-2.30pm every Friday at The Church of the Nazarene in Dewsbury and also includes entertainment such as music, bingo and crafts.
Alex added: “I have never known another project that does so much on so little and Sara makes all of this happen, bridging gaps in communities, bringing people together and offering people the chance to do something and be a part of society.”
Sara does even more community work such as helping Moorcroft Community Gardens and provides low cost buffets for community projects.
Coming tomorrow: the nominees for Teacher of the Year