Hartlepool Heroes creates memorable night at the Borough Hall
Organisers of the first Hartlepool Heroes awards have paid tribute to the winners following an emotional night at the Borough Hall.
The historic venue on the Headland was packed to hear the stories of those who have regularly gone the extra mile to help others.
There were tears, laughs, applause and an overwhelming sense of appreciation for all of the 11 category winners as well as those shortlisted.
Les and Jackie Watts, Lesley Gibson, John Stubbs, Hartlepool Big Town Tidy Up, Micky Day, the late Gillian Holbrook, Laura Cleveland, Barbara Chisholm, Gavin Lancaster, Isaac Parkes and Jessica Franklin were all named a Hartlepool Hero.
Each of those received a trophy and will be able to donate £500 to a charity or organisation of their choice courtesy of the PFC Trust. Charity partners Gus Robinson Foundation and the Teesside Charity stepped in to provide the remaining finalists with £250 each for a charity/organisation of their choice.
Joe Dunne, the PFC Trust’s Heroes coordinator, said: “We are delighted those two amazing charities came on board so that all finalists would receive a benefit from the evening, plus it means that more than £10,000 is now going to charities and worthy organisations because of Hartlepool Heroes.”
It was the perfect night for those behind the event: the PFC Trust, Hartlepool Borough Council, Jill Mortimer MP, HartlePower, Poolie Time Exchange and Hartlepool Carers.
Shaun Hope, chairman of the PFC Trust, said: “On behalf of our founder, Frances Connolly, and everyone involved, I’d like to say that we were blown away by the response to the first Hartlepool Heroes event. We are so proud of our town and the achievements of people in our community.
“I don’t want to pick out a specific highlight because each one deserved it in their own right.
“It started off with Jessica Franklin picking up the first award and the wonderful speech she gave, before ending with the Watts’ picking up the People’s Choice award when you could see how overwhelmed they were.
“People spoke so highly of our town. There were wonderful performances particularly from local talent like Emily Barnard, to the standing ovation we got for the posthumous award that was made for Gillian Holbrook.”
Hartlepool Council Adult Services, Hartlepool United Football Club, Seymour Civil Engineering, Tata Steel, Sheraton Group and Artistic Solutions all sponsored a category.
As did GT3, DESCO, BGP (sharing one award), Orangebox Training, Phoenix2retail and Hartlepool Carers, while Surface Smart and Crafty Monkey sponsored the drinks reception.
Shaun added: “The response we had just 24 hours after the event was incredible. The phone hasn’t stopped from businesses telling us they want to continue to support us, and local people telling us how pleased they are with the awards. There was also the outpouring of support online, which makes it all worthwhile.
“One of our key principles is we don’t work in isolation. We work in partnership. A special mention for Christine Fewster from Hartlepool Carers, who was on board from the start and that brought the Borough Council and Jill Mortimer MP too.
“Then there were the sponsors who we have spoken about at length in Hartlepool Life. Without them events like this don’t happen, they have a big community heart.”
PFC Trust founder Frances Connolly set up the charity in 2019 and is immensely proud of what has been achieved in a short space of time.
Shaun said: “We have now donated more than £400,000 into our town and the local area.
“We have developed partnerships, relationships and friendships that will last forever and we are so proud with the work that goes on across the town.
“Not only is Frances the founder and CEO she is our driving force. We are indebted to her for her support and for this wonderful opportunity the town has.”