‘There’s a real heart in the people of Ripon’ - St Wilfrid’s Stars ‘shine a positive light’ on city’s community heroes
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St Wilfrid’s Stars 2023 awarded individuals for their standout work in ten categories which reflected “the vibrancy of life in Ripon”.
The scheme invited the public to nominate people whose community work may have otherwise gone unrecognised.
Only in its second year, the event attracted more than 200 people, with in excess of 180 nominations.
Ripon Together was responsible for the running of the scheme, while the event was organised by Joanne Thackwray, project co-ordinator at Volunteering City of Ripon.
Joanne said: ”The nominations were brought together under a judging panel.
“It was a hard job choosing a winner as obviously they’re all winners
“There were honourable mentions that stood out.
“We had a screen rolling all the nominations on their arrival, young people watching their names coming up and taking photos, which was lovely.
“Local musicians were playing throughout the evening, everyone was invited to celebrate their remarkable efforts.
“Bethany and Ruby from Young Leaders welcomed everyone in. Both have done over 100 hours volunteering.”
The two Young Leaders received a special mention while those unexpected winners triggered emotional reactions.
Joanne said: “Ripon’s lollipop man burst into tears when his name was read out.
“A representative for the swimming club took to the Dean later and said thank you so much.
“We know people don’t do it because they want a reward, but it's vital they’re recognised.
“It shines such a positive light on Ripon, and what it has to offer from its people.
“Not just the tourist attractions, but actually there’s a real heart in the people of Ripon. A real community.
“We want to recognise that so many young people are changing their outcomes.
“And champion them as they change the perceptions about opportunities in the city.
“There are other projects like ‘Power of Ten’ also doing this.”
The cathedral provided services and the building for free while the Rotary Club helped to fund refreshments which were free on arrival.
The stars which decorated the cathedral were stitched by Ripon Poppy Project.
Ripon Together was responsible for the scheme's development while lead board member, Simon Hewitt, won the final award of the night as Volunteer of the Year.
He said: “Without sounding negative, we’ve only scratched the surface.
“Yet we had over 200 people there and we know there are loads more people doing amazing stuff still not recognised.
“It’s about people who benefit society.
“The categories we chose reflect the vibrancy of life in Ripon.
“A lot of small places wouldn’t necessarily have an awful lot going on culturally.
“We’ve got one of the biggest cultural societies in Yorkshire,
“It's buzzing with music and theatre scenes.
“We want to invest in young people, and get their honest opinions on how they view their city.
“One of the groups that may be underappreciated is all the people who run activities, sports clubs, Brownies, Guides.
“All those dads on the touchline each week, it would be nice to recognise them too.
“They are just as important to us.”