Screen Shot 2015-12-08 at 12.35.39Community champions from across south east Northumberland have been honoured at a gala presentation evening for Newcastle Building Society’s fifth annual Cornerstone of the Community Awards.
 
More than 150 invited guests attended the ceremony at the Linden Hall Hotel, which was designed to recognise the invaluable contributions that local people and groups make across the area served by the Newcastle’s Morpeth and Ashington branches through their energy, enthusiasm and dedication.
 
Leading the way was Volunteer Of The Year Award winner Pauline Thompson from Ashington, who set up the Alligator Klub five years ago to help support local adults with learning difficulties, and to allow them to socialise and make new friends in a safe atmosphere.
Pauline helps to arrange parties and entertainment evenings, and alongside her work with the Alligator Klub, she also manages to fit in donating some of her time to the local food bank.
 
Also from Ashington, Ben Baxter, who was chosen as the winner of the Young Person’s Award, found many aspects of school challenging before he discovered gardening, which helped him find a positive outlet for his energy.
His love for gardening and the environment has grown along with his natural aptitude for the pastime, and he now inspires other to plant, recycle and pick litter up in the local park.
His choices have also encouraged others in his community to make better choices themselves, and he has now appointed as a vice captain of his school house.
The Role Model Award went to Susan Dickinson from Ashington, who dedicates her life to running a group for local children with special needs, and provides invaluable support to both them and their families.
Susan has organised many fundraising activities in order to help the children and their families enjoy special days, and is always there to help them through difficult times or just to be a listening ear.
 
Real Deal Plus picked up the fourth award of the evening, the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation Community Group Award, for its work supporting the homeless and other local people in need.
The four year-old charity promotes the provision of supported accommodation, respite, education, training, information and advice, and is also responsible for running the new Ashington Life Centre, a community hub which provides a wealth of invaluable resources for local people and groups.
Individual awards were also made by each of the teams at the two local NBS branches, with the Morpeth award going to the Henry Dancer Days charity, which supports children and young people aged 18 and under with primary bone cancer right across the North East.
Jamie Fraser, who has raised almost £3,500 over the last seven years for various charities including Cancer Research, Bullying UK and the North East Autism Society by organising bus trips throughout the UK, picked up the Ashington branch prize.
 
The Awards are part of the Newcastle’s ongoing Cornerstone Of The Community campaign which enables individual branches provide support to good causes in their local areas in a variety of ways, from carrying our fundraising activities and holding in-branch events to donating time from the working week to help them out.
Natalie Falkous, head of corporate social responsibility at Newcastle Building Society, says: “We hear a lot of stories from our customers about local people and groups who make a real difference to their community, and the Cornerstone Awards give us the chance to give them some wider recognition.
“The achievements of all our nominees and their contributions to the places in which they live are truly inspiring, and helped us create a really moving and  memorable event.
“As a mutual organisation, the Newcastle has always worked hard to support the communities in which we operate, and this is something which the wider Cornerstone campaign helps our branch teams us to do by support hugely-valued charities in their respective areas.”
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