HARROW celebrated its most influential and selfless volunteers this week as residents packed out a community hall to recognise the work of more than 100 of Harrow's Heroes.
In the past few months the Observer, a partner of the Harrow Heroes awards, has been highlighting the work of many of the nominees in the lead up to the awards ceremony, which was held at Premier House Banqueting in Canning Road, Wealdstone, on Tuesday this week (October 19).
Every single one of the volunteers put forward for the eight categories were handed certificates for their efforts whilst one nominee in each section was selected by a panel as a winner and handed a cheque of £200 for their selected charity.
Sumo Charles, 21, scooped the overall volunteer of the year award Rishi Samji won young volunteer of the year while community volunteer of the year and sports volunteer of the year went to Debbie Steers and Kenneth Towns respectively.
International volunteer of the year went to Sahida Mughal, Judy Long picked up the award for Environmental volunteer of the year, Ghulam Rabbani took partnership volunteer of the year and Tony O'Dowd went home with the trustee/committee member of the year.
A host of dignitaries from St Luke's Hospice, the Edgware and Stanmore Rotary Club, Harrow Council, Harrow Police and Greater London Volunteering were on hand to present the awards as the collective partners of the scheme.
Welcoming everybody to the night the Mayor of Harrow, Councillor Asad Omar said: “It is great to celebrate the fantastic contribution volunteers throughout Harrow make to the community.
“Everyone of them plays a key role in helping produce the great cohesive community we have this night is a way of saying thank you to all Harrow's Heroes.”
Leader of Harrow Council Bill Stephenson, added: “It is a real privilege to be here for me and witness first hand the strength of community spirit we have here in Harrow.“I hope these awards will help celebrate our volunteers achievements and inspire other people to follow in their footsteps.”
*. Harrow Heroes was organised with the help of St Luke's Hospice, Volunteer Centre Harrow, Harrow Strategic Partnership, Harrow Council, Premier House Banqueting, Harold Benjamin Solicitors, Harrow Observer, HPCCG, The Metropolitan Police and Rotary International – which stumped up the cash for all the prize winners.
The overall volunteer of the year award was handed to 21-year-old Sumo Charles who admits that voluntary work has had a profound impact on his life.
Having fallen in to a life of crime he was helped by the youth offending team, with whom he now works alongside.
Speaking after he was handed the award he said: “To be honest I was in the toilet when I heard them call my name because I wasn't expecting this at all.
“I have a criminal past and voluntary work, as well as the birth of my son, have completely changed my life around.
“Harrow is one of the safest boroughs in London but crime is still happening and other people are falling into it.
“I think I am at the right age and with the right experience to be able to talk to them and basically tell that it really just isn't worth it.
“Of course it can be incredibly rewarding and it is something that important to those reaching out for help and those trying to help.
“It is great to see so many people doing so many fantastic things for the community and it a real surprise to be awarded this.
“I haven't decided who I am going to give the money too but there are obviously so many worthwhile causes.”