We Can Do It awards 2018: Meet the people who go above and beyond for the community

Award winners and hosts from last year. Picture: Vernon Nash
Award winners and hosts from last year. Picture: Vernon Nash

EVERY year, The News holds a celebration of the best community achievements from throughout the region.

The We Can Do It awards are held to thank people who go the extra mile in the community, or do something particularly special.

A number of awards will be up for grabs. Picture: Vernon Nash

A number of awards will be up for grabs. Picture: Vernon Nash

From 10 categories, people are nominate for their contributions to different aspects of life – whether they are a businessperson giving back to the community, or an artist that has created a particularly evocative piece.

These people can also be selected for being part of stories featured in The News, from the regular news section to the weekly We Can Do It page.

This year, on Monday, December 3, those who have been nominated will be gathering at South Parade Pier in Southsea, for an evening celebrating community spirit and presenting awards to thhe overall winners.

The deputy Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Cllr David Fuller, and Lady Mayoress will be in attendance on the night.

Nevaeh Dunmore-Simkins receives the Spirit of Youth Award from Lord Mayor Cllr Ken Ellcome last year. Picture: Vernon Nash

Nevaeh Dunmore-Simkins receives the Spirit of Youth Award from Lord Mayor Cllr Ken Ellcome last year. Picture: Vernon Nash

Cllr Fuller said: ‘I’m really looking forward to coming – I think it’s great that The News recognises these people for what they do for others.

‘To me, that sense of community is the beating heart of this city and it’s great to thank the people who are sometimes forgotten.

‘People getting together is what Portsmouth does best so I’m delighted to be meeting everybody on the night.’

To cast your vote for the winners, go to portsmouthcommunityawards.co.uk

Oakley Way (17) receives the Personal Achievement Award from David Williamson, the 2016 award winner, at last year's event. Picture: Vernon Nash

Oakley Way (17) receives the Personal Achievement Award from David Williamson, the 2016 award winner, at last year's event. Picture: Vernon Nash

Best Street

Queen Street, Portsea: Organised successful Portsea Carnival for a second year, with hundreds of people turning up in colourful fancy dress.

Waterlooville Precinct: Staff from the Co-Operative Funeralcare at 320 London Road organised the return of the Shrove Tuesday pancake race along the high street, bringing fun and laughter to the area. The event had formerly been scrapped by Havant Borough Council due to funding cuts. 

Old Commercial Road, Portsmouth: Green-fingered volunteers planted 50 new trees along the Charles Dickens Trail, adding colour to the route of 15 landmarks which played a significant role in the writer’s life.

Eastney Esplanade, Southsea: Street played host to the first Portsmouth Schnauzerfest - a charity event where owners of the German breed united for charity, raising over £27,500.

Best Business

The Akash: Not only has the Portsmouth curry house received national recognition this year, but the restaurant also delivered 90 curries and 10 litres of mango chutney by plane to Bordeaux, with the help of long-term patron James Emery, a British expat and pilot.

Hampshire Fire and Rescue: When deaf woman Wendy Read started to work at the knowledge management team, more than 20 of her co-workers learned sign language to help her feel more included and part of the team.

Michael Kearns / Amber Cotton-Briggs: This young couple have taken on the challenge of saving the well-loved local pub The Invincible, taking on and re-opening the historic pub amid fears that it could have been demolished.

H+S Aviation: Pupils at Cliffdale Primary School in Portsmouth returned to school in September to find a brand new assembly hall and reception area, after staff from H+S Aviation gave up their time to rejuvenate the school during the summer holidays.

Best Volunteer

Carolyn Edginton: After spending weeks in a coma due to sepsis, being saved by the staff at QA Hospital, Carolyn took on The Drop at the Spinnaker Tower, raising more than £600 for the hospital’s Critical Care Fund.

Sam Lewington: The instructor from the Park Community School branch of Enska arranged for youngsters to be sponsored to wear pink belts to karate class, raising money for Cancer Research UK.

Portsmouth Breast Friends: The charity group donated almost £5,000 worth of equipment to the breast surgery department at QA Hospital through fundraising, in memory of group member Marjorie Walker, who sadly died last year.

Vanessa Taylor: The woman behind South Coast Rabbit Rescue, Vanessa inundated her garden with rabbits earlier this year after rescuing 28 rabbits from one property, nursing them back to full health and finding them new homes.

Best School

Bay House School: Bay House School celebrated having a record number of Oxbridge students from this year’s A-Levels, with eight students earning places.

Crookhorn College: College students led a debate on whether 16-year-olds should be given the right to vote, promoting political engagement from young people as part of the Parliament-led EqualiTeas initiative

Portsmouth High School: Portsmouth High School invited 10 primary schools to come and learn about different cultures at its sixth Festival of Languages - celebrating the different mother tongues and cultures at the school.

Newtown Primary: A school in Gosport has taken on the title of the happiest school in Hampshire, after gaining Happy School accreditation by doing things like spending time with a nearby care home and working alongside the local church.

Spirit Of Youth

Ava Williams: A five-year-old girl from Denmead, Ava organised a beach clean in Southsea with her friends after seeing the devastation caused by plastic waste in a TV documentary, getting more than a dozen youngsters down to the seafront.

Ewan Pilley / Chloe Limerick: Two Scouts were picked to take part in a three-week expedition to support rural communities in Uganda. The youngsters funded their trip through events and will head out to do their bit in the summer of 2019.

Dylan Hibberd: 11-year-old Dylan spent 18 months growing his hair so that he could cut it and donate it to the Little Princess Trust, after watching a programme about young people with alopecia and cancer.

Harley Salter: Young adult Harley Salter, 23, has a range of disabilities – but that didn’t stop him from jumping off the Spinnaker Tower, dressed as Spiderman, to raise money for Enable Ability.

Service With A Smile

Ashley Neaves: Working with disabled tennis players, mentoring young coaches and increasing child participation in the sport, Ashley, from Havant, received the Tennis Coach of the Year award from the Lawn Tennis Association.

Andrei Budai: The owner of Silky Smooth Barbers in Southsea, Andrei has been cutting the hair of homeless people in a church, free of charge, saying that he wanted to do something positive for rough sleepers in Portsmouth.

Anne Taylor: Nominated by residents in care, Anne Taylor from the Thorngate Churcher Trust has been praised for keeping things running smooth, all the while with a smile on her face – beind described by one resident as ‘fantastic, tireless and very well presented every single day, rain or shine.’

Olly Clifford Brown: A few months ago, restaurant co-owner and wife, Carrie, died unexpectedly, leaving Olly to run a restaurant and raise two children. Olly has risen to the challenge as the restaurant, Clifford Brown’s in Knowle, continues to thrive.

Best Garden

Forgotten Veterans: Armed forces charity is building a retreat for veterans at Fort Cumberland in Eastney. The garden will allow veterans to camp out at the fort to help with their recovery.

Wicor Primary School: Pupils at Wicor Primary School organised a number of school sales, fundraising for a batch of new trees which they planted nearby.

Fort Nelson: Played host to The Wave poppy exhibition, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, reminding visitors of the sheer scale of the conflict represented through thousands of poppies.

Ray Hunt: A carer from Waterlooville, 62-year-old Ray has transformed his garden into a tranquil space – and also scooped up The News’ Bloomin Marvellous award earlier this year.

Care Of The Environment

Final Straw Solent: Campaign group set up this year, working alongside businesses and communities to eradicate single-use plastics for good. Hundreds of groups from across the Solent have signed up as the group arranged for seabins to be installed, and beach cleans to take place.

Gosport Wombles: Group set up in Gosport, encouraging people to all do their own little bit to help the environment. With hundreds of members, the term ‘wombling’ has become commonplace throughout the town as people head out on dog walks and runs, armed with their own litterpickers.

Plastic Free Portsmouth: Umbrella group has united anti-plastic causes throughout the city, hoping to create a single clear direction to stamp out single-use plastics for good in the city.

Dan Timm: Site supervisor for BAM was working on the Dunsbury Park business development when he rescued two fawns that had stumbled into the area, reuniting them with their mother to save the family.

Best Art / Community Project

Dan Williams: Gosport artist Dan Williams has created a gallery of portraits, celebrating unsung heroes in the community. Dan picked out people who give their all for the town or for charities, spending months putting the project together.

One World: Portsmouth Music Hub has created the One World initiative, encouraging people to pay more attention to the environment through song. The initiative has taken off, already gaining international use and recognition.

Pompey In The Community: Organised an Iftar event during the month of Ramadan, inviting the whole of the local community to join Portsmouth Muslims in the nightly breaking of the fast.

Aspex Gallery: Portsmouth art studio played host to the Tight Modern, a pop-up art gallery and a miniature replica of the Tate Modern in London. The project showcases the UK’s best artists who face barriers due to mental health, disability or social circumstance.

Personal Achievement

Mat and Pippa Price: Fareham couple took on 26 marathons in 26 weeks to raise £3,500, so that their best friend Kerry Hobbs and her daughter Alice could go to Disneyland Paris, after finding out that Alice had been diagnosed with a life-limiting illness.

Justin Cornell: Last April, Justin Cornell, 46 from Fratton, weighed in at a whopping 26st. However, determined to turn his life around, he faced his demons and lost a stunning 13st in just 10 months.

Andrew Impey: A 12-year-old boy with autism was shortlisted for Non-Beneficiary Award in the Spirit of Fire Awards 2018, having supported his local fire service by completing challenges and raising money.

Andy Cloud: Just months after suffering from a life-changing stroke, 59-year-old Andy Cloud, from Portsmouth, has given his all to make a miraculous recovery, taking part in the Step Out For Stroke event in Southsea, and giving his all to show that brutal strokes don’t have to spell the end of your time enjoying the great outdoors.