Nominations are now open for our community awards, which pay homage to those who help communities flourish.

The awards aim to honour local people and organisations who dedicate their time to help us to deliver critical services.

A new Making a Difference award has been added which this year will focus on promoting the theme of rural sustainability in the wake of last year’s Rural Commission launch.

Supported by the county council, the commission consists of experts in rural economics, policy, community-led ventures, agriculture and the environment, business and media. It aims to address challenges the most rural communities face, and find new ways for them to grow and prosper.

The Chair of the Rural Commission, the Very Rev John Dobson DL, Dean of Ripon, said: “I am hugely encouraged by the initiative of the County Council to create an award recognising those who strengthen rural sustainability. We rural commissioners have heard from and about impressive individuals and communities across this vast, often sparsely populated region. In the face of many challenges, incredible effort is made to take advantage of opportunities and to overcome obstacles. It will be wonderful to see some of this celebrated.”

The four categories are:

  • Best community group;
  • Volunteer of the year;
  • Young people volunteering award;
  • Making a difference – helping rural communities to flourish.

“We’ve introduced this new award to prove that our rural areas are filled with resilient and self-reliant communities with a reputation for helping others,” said County Council chairman, Councillor Jim Clark.

“North Yorkshire is rich in outstanding beauty, but we know that having a super-sparse population brings significant challenges. The commission is taking dynamic action in supporting growth and prosperity, which is exactly what our awards look to celebrate.

“If you know somebody who is worthy of recognition, I would urge you to nominate them. There are so many unsung heroes in our community who deserve to be found.”

A finalist in last year’s best community project category was the Mosaics for Schools Project in Harrogate. They work as part of Artizan International, a charity which enables, empowers and supports differently-able people in the UK, and in the developing world.

The project trains differently-able people to make mosaics and then takes them into local primary schools to teach others the skill. They were nominated by Oatlands Infant School, after a mosaic sculpture was created on the grounds. 

Founder Susie Hart said: “Our participants felt truly proud to be nominated for the award and it had a very positive effect on their confidence and self-esteem. It was lovely to have everyone's talents and efforts appreciated.

“We believe passionately in empowering people to reach their full potential through creative skills and activities. It reduces loneliness and the feeling of invisibility amongst differently-able people, giving them opportunities to shine.

“Being such a small staff team, we're all so busy doing the work we do that we rarely have time to go out and tell people about it, so many people in the town don't know we're here. Being nominated for the award really helped raise our profile, which has led to new participants and volunteers joining us.”

The winner of last year’s volunteer of the year award was Natalie Davies, Commanding Officer at Scarborough Sea Cadets.

They are voluntary-run and self-funded, with 102 children and 24 staff in the unit. Natalie was nominated by one of the parents.

“It was an honour to be nominated and was humbling to be at the ceremony among so many others who do incredible work,” said Natalie. “We are all one big team and I couldn’t do any of it without them. We all aim to maintain such a high standard and give the cadets the best opportunities available.”

They offer a range of activities from sailing, windsurfing and power boating, to rock climbing, camping, and music. Natalie was awarded £1,000 which was put towards equipment.

The closing date for nominations is 25 May 2020. Nomination forms can be completed online.

The winner of each category will receive £1,000 for the project, group or nominated local charity in the case of the volunteer awards. Two runners up in each category will receive £250.