The winners of this year’s Bicton College’s Pride of Devon Awards have been announced at a special awards ceremony on Friday 17 May. Taking place in the prestigious vice presidents’ pavilion at the Devon County Show, the evening saw fourteen previously unsung heroes celebrated for their efforts and achievements across a range of categories.
The judges of the event, Andy Daw, head of centre at Bicton College; director of communications and marketing at Exeter City Council Jon-Paul Hedge; manager of InExeter, the city’s business improvement district, Ann Hunter; show manager for Devon County Show Sam Mackenzie Green; chief superintendent for Devon & Cornwall Police Jim Nye and broadcaster Judi Spiers were faced with the huge challenge of selecting the winners from almost 200 nominations, across fourteen categories.
Headline sponsor and judge, Andy Daw of Bicton College said: “We are proud to sponsor this wonderful event. The Pride of Devon Awards shine a light on people making a huge difference in their communities, helping people to thrive and flourish.”
Radio Exe DJs Ben Clark and Anna Byles presented the awards on the evening. Ben Clark said: “We were so touched when we read the winners stories. Each of the winners’ dedication to their cause, whether in supporting their own families, their neighbours or people unknown to them is astonishing.”
Winner of the award for Special Recognition is Chris Martin from Newton Abbot, described by a nominator as “a true local hero.” Chris, a specialist in suicide prevention, has voluntarily set up a branch of a national organisation called Andy’s Man Club at Liaise Bistro in Newton Abbot, running every Monday. The club offers a welcoming place for men to go to talk and be listened to, supporting people who are struggling to cope and who have fragile mental health and depression. Chris had a huge number of nominations who said, “There is no-one I’d sooner have alongside if I were in a tight spot.” The judges said, “The volume of nominations naming Chris is incredible. He has inspired and touched so many.”
Winning the Lifetime Achievement award are devoted couple Rachel and Tony Coaker, who have given decades of service to the community of Rattery. From maintaining the church, organising carol singing, serving on the local council, making tea at the garden show and helping with the harvest support. It is down to the Coakers that Rattery has a new village hall. A self-build project, they worked tirelessly encouraging local people to volunteer, fundraising, applying for grants and getting planning permission.
The full list of winners is below:
- Volunteer of the Year – Matt Booker, a volunteer for Neighbourhood Friends which supports vulnerable people after a stay at RD&E, has used his skills to help people improve their cooking
- Child of Achievement – Sophie Groves from Plymouth, embarked on a Year of Confidence, initiated by her mum, Sophie has achieved great things this year
- Carer of the Year – Caylin-Ora Williams, age 10, from Exmouth, has been a carer for both her parents since she was four years old
- Grandparent of the Year – Caroline Heard from Tiverton, gives unwavering support to her family in Exeter including her youngest grandchild who lives with a rare form of epilepsy
- Parent of the Year– Susan Buckland from Exeter, mum, gran and great-gran who has parented generations of children while caring for her husband Brian who has a disability
- Apprentice of the Year, sponsored by One Voice Media – Kayla McDonald, completed Level 2 in health and social care at Exeter College to become assistant manager at Passmore Care Services
- Military Contribution of the Year – Tracie Pickett, over a decade of service with the RAF including two tours of Afghanistan and now recruiting and raising money for children whose parents are in the services
- Environmental – Simon Bates and Jon Freeman, project manager and project officer of The Great Trees in the Clyst Valley Project, helping people learn about and plant trees
- Community Sport – Kate Garrard, teacher of roller derby to juniors and adults at Exeter Roller Derby
- Teacher of the Year – Kirsten Williams, Whipton Barton Infants School
- Neighbour – Jake Huntley, who rescued his neighbour from a gas explosion in her home in Buckfastleigh
- Community Contribution – Joanne Carpenter, founder of Active Parents Tiverton
- Special Recognition – Chris Martin
- Lifetime Achievement – Rachel and Tony Coaker