Growing in status and popularity each year, the NK Community Champion Awards were held for a second time at the iconic setting of the International Bomber Command Centre, delivering a night of heartfelt thanks to the tireless, selfless and community spirited actions of groups and individuals within North Kesteven.
Coun Susan Waring, chairman of North Kesteven District Council said those shortlisted finalists who appeared at the event were just a tiny fraction of an immense contribution made each year by the people of the district: "I have no doubt that such actions are critical in North Kesteven continuing to be recognised among the best places in Engaldn to live and as having one of the lowest levels of crime in the country.
"We had some 140 individual nominations this year, representing diverse endeavours all across the district and, as ever, judging them was an enormously difficult task as each and every one represents something incredible in what they do.
"Everyone who was nominated, and especially those here tonight, is a winner in their own right and in the affections of the broader community and this evening's ceremony is our way of saying 'thank you' to you all."
In August the awards sponsors and media partners, including the Sleaford Standard met to draw up a shortlist and determine the winners. The panel took into account: sustainability and legacy, innovation and initiative, impact on individuals and the wider community, whether the person is acting above and beyond the call of duty and personal endeavour., based on the written citations on those nominations.
The awards evening on Wednesday was hosted by BBC Radio Lincolnshire presenter Rod Whiting, with entertainment by barbershop group Broken Mould, with a raffle raising money for the NKDC chairman's charity, the Lincs and Notts Air Ambulance.
Young Achiever Award went to Charlotte Ingram-Janetta, 19, of Leasingham, who has been committed to Girlguiding since she was seven and has set up her own Rainbows group and helps out at brownies every week.
She is now fundraising for Girlguiding and is preparing to do a 330-mile bike ride while studying and running her group.
Contribution to Health and Wellbeing Award went to Jane Barringer, Welbourn. Jane coordinates tea parties every month for ‘Contact the Elderly’ – a non-profit organisation. Without Jane these may not take place and they are a vital support for some of the elderly residents in the area.
She explained she has up to 25 volunteers throughout the Cliff villages who welcome older people into their own homes for tea parties. She organises transport and always attends even when parties are held simultaneously.
Contribution to Arts and Culture Award went to Bracebridge Heath Community Library Volunteers. The team were thrilled to get the award on the night. When facing closure of their library in 2015, many of the 18 current volunteers stepped in to not only save the faciilty but enhance it for the benefit of the community and providing additional activities to encourage children to read.
Contribution to Sport Award was won by Joy O'Neill of North Hykeham. A judo blackbelt and football mad, she is directly involved more than six sports for older people, volunteering to coach and mentor scores of others, coupled with school caretaking duties and caring. She pioneered women's walking football locally, fundraising for kit and arranging matches and tournaments.
Contribution to a Better Environment was won by Ian Callaghan of Skellingthorpe who put in over 700 hours to dig out and create Bluebell Pond for the village, having previously created Willow Glade. He has transformed an overgrown area of woodland into an amazing community resource for protection, enhancement and appreciation of wildlife. He has installed signage, benches and a bike pump for passing cyclists.
Community Business Award went to TFM Country Store, which bought into supporting Ian's project, donating fencing, providing advice and help and delivery of materials. They also support other local causes.
Longstanding Contribution award went to Paul Boucher, who for over 20 years has given a huge amount to establishing and running the Lincolnshire Traveller Initiative in support of one of the most discriminated against groups in society. These efforts have ranged above and beyond, teaching traveller children, creating a unique teaching bus that visits traveller sites, as well as securing qualifications and skills for young people.
The Community Safety award went to Sleaford Street Pastors led by Jem Green. The network based at Riverside Church in the town supports people in the town at night providing a safe space, food and water as well as phone access to get home for revellers in a vulnerable state. They also patrol checking on people's welfare as well as becoming a refuge for homeless people too.
The Good Neighbour award went to Maggie John of Washingborough. Described as one of the most selfless, compassionate people ever met, Maggie goes out of her way to support others; providing meals, doing shopping, helping around the home, tending to graves and driving those in need to hospital appointments.
The Community Spirit Award was won by the remarkable 90-year-old Betty Bland of Washingborough, who has been at the forefront of numerous community projects, from developing and running the community centre for many years, 40 years as a parish councillor, chaired the playing field association and 40 years as an active force with the bowls club while working to combat senior citizen isolation - still being to 'go-to' person in the village, often seen lunching with school children to keep in touch with their views.
Further to the Community Spirit Award, judges were so impressed and moved by the posthumous nomination of Elsie and John Coy of South Kyme, they felt compelled to honour them by presenting a plaque recognising their contributions to their village and the wider community.
Two of their children, Stephen and Wendy Coy, and granddaughter Abbie Coy, attended the ceremony to collect the award, which will be displayed at the village hall.
Through a tragic road collision in May at Leadenham, South Kyme lost two much-loved and valued members of the community who for over 60 years contributed so much in many ways.
Described as a 'community couple', kind, generous and positive people, all of their work was motivated by pride and a desite to bring the community together and make South Kyme a wonderful place to live, while living life to the full.
Abbie said of the special award: "I think they would be very proud. They made such an impact on South Kyme and everybody, including us as a family are really sad at their loss."
Stephen added: "When they passed away, the amount of people who came to us, literally every villager, and the sympathy cards ran into the hundreds and it wasn't just South Kyme, mum and dad were involved in things all over the county, especially with the WI and organising coach trips and things like that."
In addition, South Kyme Parish Council has commissioned two cast iron canal-style plaques to be placed at the old Town Bridge across the river in the village which will officially rename it Coy's Bridge, as it used to be locally known as John's family home was in the old bakery next to it. It will also be officially listed as such on future Ordnance Survey maps.
Stephen said: "It is brilliant. It was always known as Coy's Bridge years ago as dad's parents lived there and used to have a shop. He was the postmaster and the village special constable."
Wendy added: "It is a lasting legacy. We are also going to have a bench at the village hall for the indoor short mat bowls club of which they were members.I think they would have thought it a bit much to have so much fuss, but dad would have seen it as an honour to have the bridge named for his dad.
"All the early meetings for the Slea Navigation Society were held at our parents' house."