RIGHT across the Portsmouth region, people have been doing incredible things for their community all year long.
Last night, their dedication to helping others was recognised at The News’ We Can Do It Awards, held at South Parade Pier in Southsea.
A total of 40 nominees were put forward for awards across 11 categories, celebrating the achievements of businesses, volunteers and individuals who have gone the extra mile.
It was a night where everyone was able to celebrate one another’s successes from the past year, cheering each other on as the awards were presented.
One of the winners was this year’s recipient of the Spirit of Youth Award, Harley Salter, 23 from Portsmouth.
Harley, who has a number of disabilities, abseiled down the Spinnaker Tower earlier this year while dressed as Spiderman, to raise money for Enable Ability, a charity that has supported him throughout his life.
He said: ‘I really hoped I would win the award, but I wasn’t sure that I would.
‘It caught me by surprise when they read out my name.
‘Winning the award has really inspired me to do more – I never want to stop helping Enable Ability because they have done so much for me.'
Harley’s mother, Vanessa Salter, added: ‘I’m absolutely over the moon for Harley, he really deserves the recognition after facing his fears to do something amazing for people who have done so much for him.
‘I had a tear in my eye as he went to collect the award – I’m just so amazed at how much he has had to overcome in the past year.’
A number of special guests also attended the event – from singers Jake Quickenden and Natasha Barnes, who will be performing at this year's pantomime at the Kings Theatre, to the deputy Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Cllr David Fuller.
Cllr Fuller said: ‘This event is so incredibly special – it’s really important to celebrate the amazing things that so many people are doing across the area.
‘We have a lot of unsung heroes and I’m delighted to see their achievements recognised.
‘There are so many people here and everyone that came along this evening is a winner.’
Another award winner was the Portsmouth Breast Friends, who won this year’s award for Best Volunteer.
The Portsmouth Breast Friends donated almost £5,000 worth of equipment to the breast surgery department at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham through fundraising, in memory of group member Marjorie Walker, who sadly died last year.
Chairwoman Sandy Williams explained: ‘This award is very special to us because we did everything in memory of Marjorie, who used to chair the group.
‘She gave everything to support other people, even while undergoing treatment herself, so we are honoured to be carrying that forwards.
‘It is so important to us that we raise as much money as we can for all the women and men who have to battle breast cancer.
‘We are simply delighted to have won this award.’
Other awards were given out for the best garden, best school, service with a smile and more,
New to this year's We Can Do It Awards was the award for Reader’s Choice.
Organised via a text vote, the winner was selected by readers of The News, who voted in droves over the past couple of weeks.
The award, presented by Portsmouth City Council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson, was given to The Akash – an Indian restaurant in Albert Road, Southsea – for its ambitious mission to deliver curry to a customer over in France.
Manager of The Akash, Faz Ahmed, said: ‘We have already been nominated for a number of awards this year, some of which were even national awards.
‘But to us, this is the one that means the most to us because it was decided by the people of Portsmouth.
‘It’s an incredibly special award and we feel really privileged to have won it – I didn’t believe we would because there are so many incredible people who were shortlisted.’
Further coverage of the awards will appear in The News throughout the rest of the week.
Best Street of the Year
Old Commercial Road Portsmouth
Best Business of the Year
Best Volunteer of the Year
Portsmouth Breast Friends
Best School of the Year
Newtown Primary School
Service With a Smile Award
Best Garden of the Year
Forgotten Veterans Portsmouth
Care of the Environment Award
Best Art/Community Project
Aspex Gallery Portsmouth
Personal Achievement Award
Mat and Pippa Price
Spirit of Youth Award
Readers’ Choice Award
The Akash Restaurant