Awards ceremony celebrates the unsung heroes of life in Leeds

Jo Cox's sister, Kim Leadbeater, and parents Gordon and Jean Leadbeater at tonight's ceremony.
Jo Cox's sister, Kim Leadbeater, and parents Gordon and Jean Leadbeater at tonight's ceremony.

They regularly give up their time to help others without expectation of recognition or reward.

But, this evening, some of the countless unsung heroes of Leeds took a well-deserved place in the spotlight.

Musical entertainment at the ceremony.

Musical entertainment at the ceremony.

The setting was Leeds Civic Hall and the event was Leeds’s first ever Compassionate City Awards, staged to celebrate people, groups and community organisations who make important contributions to local life. Winners included:

* Sophie Chapman, named Young Person of the Year after organising toy collections for Christmas campaigns and ‘thank you’ parcels for the emergency services;

* Jean Barnbrooke, named Volunteer of the Year for her efforts as a “positive and supportive role model and friend” to rainbows, brownies and guides;

* Chris Parapia, named Unsung Hero in recognition of her work with Aireborough Supported Activities Scheme and Parkinson’s Park Community Interest Company.

The awards lined up ahead of the ceremony.

The awards lined up ahead of the ceremony.

The evening’s Jo Cox Award, given in memory of the late Batley & Spen MP, went to the St Vincent’s Community Learning and Development Programme.

Mrs Cox’s sister, Kim Leadbeater, who was at the event, told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “It’s an honour to be here, every single person in this room tonight is very, very special.

“Jo and I were brought up to care about people, to reach out to people and there are so many people doing that across our region on a day to day basis, often with very little recognition – and they don’t want recognition, but you know what, they really do deserve it.

“Jo was about connecting communities and connecting people together and getting the best out of everybody and that’s exactly what this evening is about. She would have absolutely loved it.”

Other winners included Swinnow Community Centre (Community Organisation of the Year), DAZL (Cultural Achievement of the Year), Glowing Embers (Inspirational Project of the Year) and Shakespeare Primary School (School of the Year).

Special recognition awards went to Margaret Morley, Cynthia Ruston, Dr Keith Howard and Sylvia Wright.

The Leeds City Council-organised event’s award sponsors were Zenith, Leeds City College, Grant Thornton and the Leeds Rhinos Foundation.

Attendees included council leader Coun Judith Blake, who told the YEP: “Tonight is very special indeed. I don’t think we say thank you enough to people who every day do amazing things.

“There are so many people here who have made an enormous contribution, really transforming lives.”

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