A CEREMONY celebrating people dedicated to improving life in a County Durham town has named its community champions.

Stanley Town Council’s annual Town Mayor’s Awards recognises residents and groups that have made an impact in the communities of the parish.

The gala event was held recently in the town’s Civic Hall.

Stanley Mayor, Councillor Alex Clegg, said: “What an honour it is for us as a council to be able to pay tribute to our local heroes and thank them on behalf of the town for their effort and commitment to Stanley and its people.

“All of the winners of this year’s mayor’s awards are totally committed to their area or to delivering projects, clubs or businesses which make the Stanley area better than it otherwise would be.

“These awards are our way of letting them know their hard work and continued effort is very much appreciated by us and the other members of the community.”

Michele Hodgson was recognised for her many years of public service. The former town and county councillor who recently stood down from her roles due to ill health, was awarded an MBE last year.

Toby Dunne was honoured for his positive contribution to youth work. The PACT House volunteer organised a public meeting, inviting police to address problems with nuisance behaviour, following well-publicised youth disorder at the bus station.

Stanley Deaf Club organiser Mandy Davison received an award recognising 15 years of voluntary work. Originally stepping in to prevent the club winding down, the club is now a source of friendship and support for deaf people across the region.

Stanley Woodcraft Folk was honoured for the three decades it has been working with young people, hosting annual camping trips, building initiative and confidence.

The Love Beamish and Stanley Group, a network of traders supporting each other and providing a voice for local business, also received an award.

Proactive and consistent delivery of community projects saw Lesley Brearey and Catchgate and Annfield Plain recognised at the event. The group organises litter picks, planting and floral displays in their villages, as well as fundraising and sponsorship of other local clubs.

Anne Musgrove, volunteer coordinator for the British Legion Poppy Appeal in Stanley, was honoured for her work arranging delivery of wreaths, distributing poppies and donation boxes and collecting them for communities to remember war dead.

Margaret King and the New Kyo and Oxhill Partnership were recognised for dedication to improving their area, delivering environmental improvements, organising family day trips, Christmas gifts for elderly isolated people and much more.

Stanley Town Council leader, Councillor David Marshall, said: “While we recognise these vital groups and individuals once a year at this ceremony, I hope they all realise how grateful we are all year round for their ongoing commitment to helping people and make things a little brighter in our communities.”