Outstanding members of the community were praised at an awards ceremony held by leading Midlands landlord whg.

More than 200 people attended whg’s Recognising our Customers and Communities (ROCCs) Awards 2017, which was held at The Stadium Suite of Banks’s Stadium, Walsall on Wednesday, 22nd March.

Nine winners were announced on the night, with 17 nominees also being handed awards.

Among the winners was Anne Fry, who won the Volunteer of the Year – Volunteering Works award. This award recognised whg’s hard-working volunteers, who are part of whg’s Volunteering Works programme. The programme offers volunteering opportunities to customers and it is estimated that volunteers on the programme contribute around 700 hours of their time each month.

Anne, aged 33, has been volunteering with whg’s Community Health team for three years. Her role includes supporting whg’s Community Health Officers in delivering a range of initiatives, including the weight management programme Waist Away.

Anne, from Darlaston, said: “Since volunteering with whg, my confidence has gone through the roof. Before volunteering, I wouldn’t talk to anyone and would keep my head down, but now I would speak to anyone.

“I was shocked to be nominated. Winning the award is great and shows just what I have achieved.”

Paula Grundy, from Harden, won the Outstanding Learner award.

Paula, who left school with no qualifications and had children at a young age, was introduced to whg’s Be The Best You Can Be Programme through Community Champions Lisa Cushman and Michelle Wiggin.  The five-step programme helps people build up their confidence and also gain qualifications. Paula has since gone on to gain qualifications in food hygiene, first aid and is now learning Maths and English with Walsall Adult and Community College (WACC).

Paula, aged 31, said: “Before I was involved in whg’s Be The Best You Can Be Programme, my CV had nothing on it and now it is near enough full. It has brought back all my confidence and I want to say a massive thank you to Lisa and Michelle for all their support.

“I was really shocked to win the award, as I’ve never had any confidence in myself. It was fantastic to win – it’s another chapter to my learning and will push me even further.”

Other winners included Shafeen Khan who picked up the Involved Customer award; Sadie and Owen Allen, who volunteer for The Avenue Association’s Dreams in Action scheme, won the Volunteers of the Year award; Tom Bridges who won the Community Garden Champion award and Edyta Kastelik who was awarded Good Neighbour. Local charity Multi-media Arts Project Ltd (MMAP) won VIEW Community Chest Project of the Year 2017, with community initiative Mend-It securing Outstanding Community Group and Stephen Holdcroft winning Outstanding Customer.

The host for the evening was Alan Dedicoat, also known as the ‘Voice of the Balls’ from the National Lottery and announcer of Strictly Come Dancing.  Alan also hosted a raffle at the ROCCs, which raised more than £200 for whg’s chosen charity, Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

Alan Dedicoat said: “I was delighted to be asked to host the ROCCs Awards. Not only was it an opportunity to return to my beloved West Midlands but it was also a chance to honour some truly remarkable people. 

“I was touched by the stories I heard and humbled by people who turned out to be the real stars of the night.  We had great fun at the Stadium Suite, raised a pile of money for Birmingham’s Children’s Hospital and paid tribute to some outstanding characters.”

Entertainment on the night was provided by the Goldsmith Primary Academy school choir, local singer Chloe Rose Fisher and DJ Andy King. Awards were handed to winners and nominees by whg Board Chair, Eddie Hughes.

A group of whg’s customers also worked with colleagues to determine the ceremony’s logo, theme and awards style.

Gary Fulford, whg’s Group Chief Executive, said: “This year’s ROCCs Awards was a great way for us to say thank you to the unsung heroes of the community.

“We were really proud to be able to celebrate the good work of individuals across our neighbourhoods and it was fantastic to hear the wonderful success stories of those who give up their own time to improve the lives of those around them.”