Harrogate Advertiser reporter Finola Fitzpatrick writes a column about the outgoing Mayor of the Borough of Harrogate, Coun Nick Brown's, Community Leadership Awards.
Just when I thought I couldn’t be more proud of the incredible sense of community we have in our district, I attended the outgoing Mayor of the Borough of Harrogate, Coun Nick Brown’s, personal Community Leadership Awards hosted at the Mayor's Parlour on Sunday.
I genuinely had a tear in my eye as I listened to the Mayor share stories of the extraordinarily special and truly inspirational people from across our district who have made such an enormous contribution to our community; whose big hearts and special visions have had an immeasurable impact on so many people’s lives.
Speaking to all of the award winners, their abundant passion for helping others and improving our area was truly infectious, and I could see exactly why the Mayor had chosen to recognise and celebrate their incredible community leadership qualities.
In the last engagement of his mayoral year, the Mayor presented an award to Kambiz Ramzan Ali, the founder of Harrogate K. R. Ali Taekwondo Academy, in recognition of his extraordinary commitment to the club, which continues to grow from strength to strength.
Kambiz said: “I feel it is a great honour to be part of this leadership community, and it's been great to meet such lovely people who are pouring so much time into our community.”
The Dean of Ripon Cathedral, the Very Rev John Dobson, was awarded for his phenomenal vision to make Ripon Cathedral a centre of heritage, pilgrimage and tourism, and for his passion in ensuring that the landmark continues to play an active and vibrant role firmly at the heart of the community.
Malcolm Neesam was presented with an award for his huge dedication as a highly-acclaimed local historian who has volunteered to help raise impressive sums for the Harrogate Club’s restoration, as well as supporting countless local charities and churches.
At just 16-years-old, Ellen Young was the youngest of the recipients, but I was truly in awe of just how much she has achieved already.
Ellen is extremely modest and humble like all of the winners, but she is an extraordinary young lady who is so proactive in our community - setting up a food bank at Harrogate Grammar School, playing an important part in the school’s charity committee, and setting up the thriving Harrogate Climbing Club.
Ellen also won the Harrogate and District Soroptimists’ Young Woman in the Community award this year.
Ellen said: “You never go into volunteering with the aim or intention of being recognised, it feels quite surreal but fantastic to be appreciated, and being here hearing about the other achievements of people in the borough and the adventures they’ve been on,, the great projects they’ve done, it’s really inspiring.”
Guests and award winners were also in awe of Lieutenant Colonel Will Strickland, Commanding Officer of the Army Foundation College, who was commissioned into the Queen’s Royal Hussars in 1998, and served in Germany, Canada, Poland, Kosovo and Iraq. Within the 19 Light Brigade, and as DCOS, he deployed on HERRICK 10.
Passionate about all that the Army Foundation College does, Lt Strickland said: “The Mayor has done a brilliant job in helping to make sure that the college is well integrated into the community. It is an honour to be presented with this award.”
The truly inspirational philanthropy of Terry and Liz Bramall was celebrated and recognised at the awards. The Liz and Terry Bramall Foundation has been making life-changing grants of around £2m a year to organisations in Yorkshire.
Mim Garrant, a career Department of Defence employee, who has clocked up a staggering 27 years of experience as a manager, analyst and linguist, was highly commended for her special leadership qualities.
Barclays Premier Relatonship Manager Martin Gerrard, often affectionately known as ‘Mr Barclays’ around Harrogate, was praised for always being on duty and going above and beyond to immerse himself in the community for over four decades.
Christine Stewart - known by so many as a pillar of the Starbeck community, was awarded for investing her whole heart into making Starbeck a special place and being so selfless in her dedication. As Chair of Starbeck in Bloom, Christine lives and breathes Starbeck. Anything that’s going on in Starbeck, you can guarantee that Christine is involved in it in some way.
Rudding Park owner Simon Mackaness was praised for the extensive hard work he has put into developing the hotel, employing over 280 people and recently recapturing Harrogate’s spa heritage with the new spa.
Our very own Jean MacQuarrie, the Editor of the Harrogate Advertiser Series, and Group Weeklies Editor of Johnston Press Yorkshire was another recipient.
I have to say on a personal level that I am delighted to see Jean being given an award, as she has been a fantastic support to so many trainee reporters like myself over the years, and really cares about playing an active role in our community.
I was presented with an award for the Ending Loneliness campaign I have been leading for the Harrogate Advertiser since October last year. I have accepted the award on behalf of all the extraordinarily brave and special people who have come forward and shared their story through the campaign to help end loneliness.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank readers for backing the campaign, and it really is fantastic that we now have over 50 organisations supporting it too.
I firmly believe that the outgoing Mayor himself should be given his own community leadership award. Over the last year Nick Brown has attended over 500 engagements, and his genuine love for our district just radiates from him.
As a reporter I have lost count of the number of times I have seen him out attending events I am covering. Watching him at these engagements, he always takes that extra time to speak to everybody and make them feel special - lighting up so many people's faces. I myself remember meeting him in my first week at the Harrogate Advertiser when I was only just finding my feet , after moving away from home and not knowing anybody here.
He told me I could ring him any time I needed help with anything, and that kind of support so early on in me being here meant the world. I know that my story is not unique, and that his support has been widespread.
Nick, on behalf of all the award recipients and everybody you have touched with your kindness and generosity over the last year and beyond, we thank you.
As the awards finished, the Mayor said: “It has been an absolute joy to be Mayor, I feel very humbled and privileged to have met these special people who have shown such great qualities of community leadership. They are hugely deserving and I wanted to give them my own personal award to recognise them.”