We Can Do It awards 2019: Community's unsung heroes are honoured at awards evening

CHAMPIONS of the community from Portsmouth and beyond have been given a proper thank you for everything they do for others.

Tuesday, 19th November 2019, 6:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 19th November 2019, 7:38 am
The winners of the 2019 We Can Do It awards at the Kings Theatre, Southsea. Picture: Duncan Shepherd

At The News’ We Can Do It awards, held at the Kings Theatre in Southsea last night, crowds cheered one another on as awards were given out to volunteers, schools and businesses who have gone the extra mile.

For many of these unsung heroes, it came as a surprise to even be nominated, much less to take home one of the 12 awards from the night.

Vanessa Taylor from South Coast Rabbit Rescue left with much more than she expected, taking home the awards for Best Volunteer and the Readers' Choice – a category voted on by readers of The News.

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She received the awards for rescuing 45 rabbits after they were abandoned at the side of the road, nursing them back to health and finding them all loving homes to go to.

‘This evening has been nuts,’ Vanessa said.

‘I really cannot believe it – there were so many incredible people in the Best Volunteer category, it shows how much amazing stuff is being done in the local community.

‘I’m just absolutely over the moon.’

Receiving his award with a beaming smile on his face was Richard Pavey.

The 65-year-old won the Service with a Smile category for donating more than 100 pints of blood to the NHS.

He said: ‘I love giving blood because it goes all over the UK, from Manchester to Jersey.

‘I do it because I know if anything ever happened to me, I would be relying on the generosity of others, so want to do the same thing.

‘I'm a bit shocked that I won, especially with the other candidates in my category, but I hope it inspires other people to give blood too.’

Also celebrating last night were the Gosportarians, who received the award for Best Art or Community Project.

The group, based in Gosport, won for hosting a number of events in the town, such as an annual dog show, but in particular for a prostate screening event at Bay House School, which led to some men getting a diagnosis.

Gosportarian Malcolm Dent said: ‘We formed the Gosportarians three years ago with the aim of bringing people together.

‘The money we raise from our events goes straight back into the community; it’s encouraging to know that people think we’re doing a good job and it’s wonderful to receive this award.’

Taking home the Best Street award was Francis Avenue, in Southsea.

Earlier in the year, the street was transformed into a ‘play street’ when the roads were closed off to traffic, allowing youngsters to play in the street.

Resident Laura Mellor, who collected the award, said: ‘It’s great to see the kids all having fun and to win this award is an amazing feeling.

‘Its their street to and they absolutely loved being given the chance to spend a proper day outside in it.’

Meanwhile, the award for Spirit of Youth – given to the most inspirational young person – went to Daisy Vassie from Gosport.

She cut off an incredible 12in of her hair, donating it to the Little Princess Trust to make wigs for young cancer patients.

‘It’s really exciting,’ said Daisy.

‘It was scary going up on stage but there were lots of people clapping.’

Mum Becky added: ‘I’m so proud of her, she really deserves it.’

In between the awards, the Kings Youth Theatre dazzled the crowd with some stellar performances.

Meanwhile, sat next to the event’s sponsors was the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Cllr David Fuller.

He said: 'The atmosphere at The News’ We Can Do It awards is always really great.

‘It's so important that the people we’ve seen here tonight are recognised for what they do for the community.

‘You go around meeting everyone and it hits you that there are so many people in Portsmouth and the surrounding towns that go to incredible lengths to help one another.

‘It’s a very special night for everyone.’

Below is the full list of last night’s winners:

Best Street: Francis Avenue, Southsea

Best Business: Beautify Me

Best Volunteer: Vanessa Taylor

Best School: St Jude’s Nursery, Southsea

Spirit of Youth: Daisy Vassie

Service with a Smile: Richard Pavey

Best Garden: Brockhurst Junior School, Gosport

Care of the Environment: Wicor Primary School, Portchester

Best Art or Community Project: Gosportarians

Personal Achievement: Rich Harris

Readers’ Choice: Vanessa Taylor

Melvin Louch Overall Winner: Sarah-Louise Page