Volunteer Awards 2020 nominations open ahead of virtual event

2019 Event at DoubleTree by Hilton
HEY Smile Foundation Volunteers Awards 2019 was held at DoubleTree by Hilton.

A virtual awards ceremony has been organised to recognise the incredible and selfless work of unsung volunteers across the Humber region.

Organised by the HEY Smile Foundation and partners, the Volunteer Awards 2020 ceremony was due to take place at the Bonus Arena in Hull on October 8, but physical attendance at such a large event has been cancelled due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Now, plans have been adapted to ensure the event can still go ahead online at 4pm on the same day, hosted by radio presenter, stage and event host Darren Lethem via Facebook and YouTube.

Last year’s inaugural Volunteer Awards, held at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hull, saw 10 awards given to worthy winners, shining a well-deserved light on their varied volunteering efforts to help others.

John and Margaret Curry won the Outstanding Volunteer of the Year and Sports Volunteer awards last year for their involvement in the Humber Bridge Half Marathon and Fun Run over two decades.

John, Rotary Club of Hull Committee Chair and Event Director, said: “Winning the awards last year was a total surprise. We don’t expect anything like that and it was very humbling to be nominated. To win one award was fabulous, but to win two was out of this world.

“The awards recognise the work of so many volunteers and it’s important that the ceremony is still going ahead this year. It’s always nice to be recognised in a positive way and it’s right that the show goes on.”

Martin Steedman was last year’s winner of the Public Service Volunteer Award for his work as a member of the Blue Lights Brigade, a group of ex and retired emergency services staff, armed forces and members of the community who support and visit vulnerable residents in North Lincolnshire.

Martin, a retired Humberside Police officer who is now a Humberside Fire and Rescue Service volunteer, was recognised for offering advice to vulnerable, disabled and elderly residents, which could save their lives in a fire emergency, referring them to other agencies if required. He continues to update records and carry out welfare checks on local residents from home.

Martin said: “I felt humbled to be in the presence of people who I felt had done more than I had last year, but it was nice that my part and the team’s part was recognised. I considered it to be a team award, rather than just for me.

“The awards highlight what voluntary organisations do and also help to raise their profile. I’m pleased they are going ahead virtually this year and that volunteers will continue to be recognised. So many people have done so many nice things for others.”

The awards will celebrate the work of volunteers across Hull, East Yorkshire and North and North East Lincolnshire and it is the first time the HEY Smile Foundation has held a virtual event.

Sarah Shepherdson, the charity’s Events and Communications Manager, said: “We find ourselves in very unprecedented and challenging times this year, which understandably means large gatherings and events can’t go ahead. But we’re determined to ensure volunteers continue to be rewarded for their amazing work and we’ve been working hard to adapt our plans and create our first virtual event.

“Volunteers go the extra mile to help others on a regular basis and we’re really excited to make it as special as possible for everyone involved. We received some truly outstanding nominations last year and we can’t wait to see what the 2020 nominations reveal.”

Nisa Retail’s Making a Difference Locally charity is the main sponsor for the event, and is also sponsoring the Community Volunteer Award. East Riding of Yorkshire Council is also event partner.

Kate Carroll, Head of Charity at Making a Difference Locally, said: “We’re delighted Sarah and the Smile team have decided to go ahead with the Volunteer Awards this year. Thousands of selfless volunteers are keeping our communities going in these current, challenging times and that needs to be celebrated.

“But many people volunteered before the pandemic and will continue to long after it’s over. These unsung heroes deserve recognition and we’re really looking forward to cheering everybody on at the virtual awards ceremony.”

The award categories are

  • Connecting Communities Volunteer Award – Sponsored by Nippon Gohsei 
  • Environmental Volunteer Award – Sponsored by Transwaste
  • Behind the Scenes Volunteer Award – Sponsored by Umber Creative
  • Trustee Award – Sponsored by Smailes Goldie
  • Volunteer Team Award – Sponsored by Arco
  • Community Volunteer Award – Sponsored by Nisa Retail
  • Public Service Volunteer Award – Sponsored by The One Point
  • Sport Volunteer Award – Sponsored by Active Humber
  • Young Volunteer Award – Sponsored by Eltherington 
  • Fundraiser Award – Sponsored by the Institute of Fundraising (IoF)

Entries open at 12 noon on June 19 and can be submitted via https://form.jotform.com/201702335235040 

Video nominations are also encouraged and can be emailed to awards@heysmilefoundation.org

The criteria for each award category can be found online at http://heysmilefoundation.org/2020/06/19/volunteer-awards-2020/

The deadline for entries is July 31 and shortlisting will take place in mid-August.

[Sarah Shepherdson – HEY Smile Foundation]