Nominations are rolling in for local heroes in this year’s North Yorkshire County Council community awards – but there is still time to nominate volunteers that deserve recognition.

The winner in each category will receive £1,000 for their project, group or a relevant local charity. Two runners-up in each category will receive £250.

Organisations and individual volunteers make a big contribution to lives across North Yorkshire, and the annual community awards, now in their third year, seek to find the county’s unsung heroes, the volunteers who help to deliver the services that make their communities better places.Winning can make a real difference to organisations.

The winner of last year’s best community project category was Thirsk Yarnbombers. The community knitting project started in December 2015 with modest ambitions to decorate the town for the Tour de Yorkshire cycle race. The idea snowballed and the group has gone on to support charities and promote the town.

Founder member Sam Spence, said: “The prize money has enabled us to provide materials free of charge. If people want to come along and join us, they are very welcome and all they need is their knitting needles.

“It also enabled us to support the library when it became volunteer-led.  We paid for all the materials to make lots of items related to different books or genres. Early on the morning of the launch of the community library, we went in and decorated everywhere before the volunteers arrived. We also made hundreds of bookmarks that people can take when they join the library or borrow a book, and we made story sacks for the children’s area.”

A forthcoming project is knitting head gear for 19 members of the Yorkshire Lasses cycle group to wear over their helmets during a charity Women v Cancer ride. The group meets every Wednesday at Meadowfields extra care housing development in Thirsk, holding morning and evening sessions.

“Everything we do is about promoting Thirsk and North Yorkshire, getting people into the town and supporting local businesses,” said Sam.

The best community group award last year went to WHISH, Whitby Hidden Impairments Support and Help, which supports families in Whitby and the surrounding area whose children have a hidden impairment or disability. It does this through sport, arts, social activities and clubs for children and siblings and advice and support for parents.

Vicky Millson, WHISH chairperson, said: “The community award has made a huge difference to WHISH already because of the recognition within our community of what we actually do. As well as raising our profile, it has emboldened some of our members who felt embarrassed at needing support. They are now proud to be members of a recognised group.

“We published details of the award through our website, Facebook pages and the local press and this publicity brought WHISH to the attention of many more local people, some of whom have since started fundraising on our behalf. This publicity has also resulted in bringing more members to WHISH, enabling us to support and help more families.

“I would recommend that all local charities and voluntary groups be nominated for this award because of the advantages that it can bring.”

There are four categories in the awards:

  • Best community project: recognising a community project that has resulted in real benefits for their community.
  • Best community group: recognising an inspirational community group that has made a positive impact on a community and/or people’s lives through on-going, day-to-day activity.
  • Volunteer of the year: recognising an inspiring individual who has made an outstanding contribution to their community through volunteering above and beyond their normal role.
  • Young people volunteering award: recognising projects run by an individual or group aged 11 to 25. It is awarded to a young person or people who have made a difference to other people’s lives by volunteering their time and skills to help to solve a problem or provide a service.

People and organisation that have been nominated in previous years but have not been successful are eligible for nomination.

Neil Irving, Assistant Director, Policy and Partnerships, said: “These awards have already highlighted much excellent work and continue to do so, showcasing the wealth of skills we have in North Yorkshire and the willingness to share those skills to benefit others.”

The closing date for nominations is 14 June 2017. Nomination forms can be completed online at www.northyorks.gov.uk/communityawards. Anyone who is unable to complete the nomination online can call 01609 780780.