Choking back the tears the overall winner of the Pride in our People awards gave a heart-warming speech of thanks.

Ian Breen, manager of the Acton Homeless Concern Centre, won the Employee of the Year and the Star of Ealing awards, but said he could not have won either without the backing of his staff and volunteers.

Overcome with emotion Ian told the audience: "I would like to thank everyone I work with, my staff and volunteers. Without them it would be impossible to do what I do. This is for them, not me. I would also like to thank Anne Gray (chairwoman of the trustees). I would not be able to do my job without her. She is my guiding light."

After the presentation he added: "I can't believe it. I never expected this."

This self-effacing man was nominated by four people who praised him for his devotion and attitudes towards users over the past six years. They said he 'changed lives for the better, always put you first and never gave up to find a solution to your problem.'

The 54-year-old former social worker said of his job: "It's the best I have ever had. If you can help people it's fantastic. We get people who can't read or write, an old lady who wants you to find her dog or a man with his shoes in tatters. We are here to help everyone. We are a small charity with a big heart."

 

He had nothing but praise for the 11th Pride in our People awards, run by the Ealing Gazette and University of West London. for the 11th year running.

Tension mounted as the six-month campaign to find Ealing's unsung heroes finally came to an end. As guest celebrity, former BBC media correspondent, Torin Douglas read out the citations there were gasps of surprise and disbelief by all the winners who all said they were simply delighted to be invited to the awards ceremony,held at the University of West London's restaurant, Pillars on Tuesday May 13.

They were each presented with £500 and a stunning crystal trophy, with the runners-up each getting a special certificate.

The winners of this year's Pride in Our People Awards were:

  • Margaret Nyuydzewira (Community Champion - sponsored by dunnhumby) a co-founder of CAME Women and Girls' Development Organisation, the first in the UK to lead a campaign against breast ironing, which involves flattening the breasts of adolescent girls with heated spatulas.
  • Keisha (7) and Deeyani Kerai (5) (Young Achiever - sponsored by Ealing Broadway Shopping Centre) who sacrificed their long hair to donate it to the Little Princess Trust which provides wigs for children who have lost their hair through cancer treatment.
  • Therapy Box (Business Champion - sponsored by Northfields Estates) co-founded by Swapnil Gadgil who created a unique app for people with disabilities.
  • PC Daniel Strong (My Hero - sponsored by St George plc) who single-handedly tackled an armed robber after a post-office hold up in Hanwell last year.
  • Employee of the year, won by Ian Breen, was sponsored by Bluebird Care and Star of Ealing was sponsored by the University of West London.