SOME of Ilkeston’s most generous, selfless and charitable individuals have had their invaluable work recognised this week.
The Rutland Cottage – workplace of Kev Smith, one of last year’s winners – was the venue for the Ilkeston Advertiser’s New Year Honours Awards on Friday.
Editor Peter Hemmett said it was ‘a real honour’ to hand out awards to worthy winners, including a chip shop owner in his 70s, a secondary school student and a girl guiding stalwart.
He said: “The one thing that has brought you all together is your amazing service to the community around you.
“It is a great pleasure to give you all a little bit of the recognition that you so richly deserve.
He added: “It is that sense of community spirit that makes Ilkeston so special.
Many people think communities are dying but these awards are a prime example that the community in Ilkeston is alive and kicking.”
Denis, who many will recognise as the owner of Jackson’s Chippy in Market Street, has raised thousands of pounds for charity by cycling to Skegness every year for a decade, despite being in his 70s.
In recent years he has donated to Help for Heroes and Ilkeston-based Ben’s Den.
“The most we have ever raised is £983 – it’s been going up and up every year,” he said.
“Ilkeston people are so generous, they really are.”
Kirk Hallam Community College student James, 13, has organised a series of table top sales in West Hallam to raise cash for Ilkeston Stroke Club and Ben’s Den.
His grandma died of a stroke and he wanted to do whatever he could to help a worthy cause close to his heart.
“Obviously I am pleased but I don’t do it for the awards or the press, I do it because I want to make a difference,” he said.
He has secured the support of his school friends and siblings in his charity work.
He added: “My sister and my second cousin Ryan especially help me out.”
Mark is a dedicated dad who last year clocked up 771 miles running in fundraising races across the country to raise cash for a charity that supports his son Matthew.
Mark completed the Great North Run, the British 10K Run, the Birmingham Run and the Great South Run and collected more than £2,000 for Newlife, after it had paid for a new motorised wheelchair for Matthew.
He explained why he took on the challenges: “Whatever’s thrown at me and Matthew, there are always people a lot worse off.”
Head of year nine at Ormiston Ilkeston Academy, Sally is the person behind the annual Operation Ilkestonian campaign.
Each year Sally asks students to donate food in the run-up to Christmas which is then delivered to Community Concern Erewash in Cotmanhay for those less fortunate.
She even helps serve up the dinner to some of the borough’s most vulnerable residents on Christmas Day.
She started it seven years ago after finding out that there were no meals on wheels for the elderly in Erewash on Christmas Day.
“Jane Wilson – she’s the real brains behind this – started cooking dinner for the elderly at Cotmanhay Pavilion,” she explained.
“I got the kids to collect the ingredients to cook the dinner.” She added: “I am really touched, thank you very much.”
Joyce has spent half a century helping at Guides and Brownie groups across Ilkeston and is a key member of the Kirk Hallam community.
Despite being retired, she still helps out and has also served on bodies including Friends of Kirk Hallam Church and Kirk Hallam Community Hall Association.
She is always willing to give up her own time to help the community and has given dedicated service to the area for 50 years.
“I am quite surprised but I am very pleased,” she said.
She explained that at age 18 she went along to help a friend out at the 15th Ilkeston Brownies and has been involved ever since.
“I have enjoyed it – Guiding is a way of life and I hope it carries on and on,” she added.
Darren and Tracey Parker
The husband and wife team set up the Ben Parker Trust, better known as Ben’s Den, in 2004 after the death of their son Ben from leukaemia in 2003.
The charity, set up the following year, provides holidays for terminally ill children and their families to Mablethorpe.
Tracey and Darren’s dedication to the charity has touched many local people, businesses and organisations who have dug deep to support them ever since.
Tracey said: “It’s the people who raise money for us that do all the hard work.
“So I accept this award on their behalf.
“We set up Ben’s Den – that was the easy part. A big thank you to all the fundraisers and sponsors, I really appreciate it.”