Local heroes across Wigan Borough have been celebrated at an awards ceremony which recognised all those who have gone above and beyond to make their neighbourhood a better place.
The Our Town Awards took place remotely on Thursday (June 3) and recognised the extraordinary lengths individuals and community groups have gone to over the last 12 months, from those working on the frontline of the pandemic to those who have volunteered to do their neighbour’s weekly shop.
Among the evening’s winners was Jessica Holt, owner of the Studio in Standish, who took home the new ‘Covid-19 Superheroes’ award, which was specially created to highlight community contributions during the pandemic.
Throughout the pandemic, Jessica not only loaned out gym equipment, moved exercise classes online for free and hosted weekly quiz nights on zoom but as a trained ICU nurse, she also returned to Wigan hospital, often working nightshifts. She is now offering fitness classes to those suffering from long Covid, supporting them on their road to recovery.
The winner of the Community Hero award was Kieran Jones who worked throughout the pandemic to help people struggling with poor mental health by setting up a Facebook support group called Bridging Gap. He’s provided one to one support with regular phone calls and texts to check in on people. He was called a “true hidden hero” by one of his nominators.
Jes and Sam Rusling were named Neighbourhood Heroes for setting up Lighthouse – a subgroup group that serves the community of Worsley Mesnes. Through Lighthouse, they have helped feed vulnerable families, organised litter picks, walks and more.
They are currently working on developing an orchard and vegetable beds on unused land in Worsley Mesnes to grow and share food with those who need it.
Councillor David Molyneux, leader of Wigan Council, said: “I have been blown away by the extraordinary lengths our residents have gone to help each other and their communities during one of the most challenging periods of our lives.
“These acts of kindness, bravery and selflessness have not gone unnoticed and regardless of whether you won an award, I hope all of our finalists feel proud of the difference they are making.
“I’d also like to thank all those who submitted nominations and for bringing these incredible individuals to our attention to receive the recognition they truly deserve. Choosing the winners and runners up was by no means an easy task.”
Residents from across the Borough submitted nominations for a total of five award categories including Community Heroes, Neighbourhood Heroes, Extraordinary Acts of Kindness, Environmental Heroes and Covid-19 Superheroes. For each category, judges chose a winner and two runners up.
The winners are as follows:
Winner – Kieran Jones
1st runner-up – Becca Shaw
2nd runner-up – Mavis Grundy
Winner – Jes and Sam Rusling
1st runner-up – Freida Holding
2nd runner-up – Brenda Causey
Extraordinary Acts of Kindness:
Winner – Ruth Connor
1st runner-up – Olive Jones
2nd runner-up – Kathleen Haslam
Winner – Mark Whittaker
1st runner-up – Rachel Heydon
2nd runner-up – Mandy Neale
Winner- Jessica Holt
1st runner-up – Sue Metcalf
2nd runner-up – Catherine Roberts