Children and adults of courage were honoured by a community that cares in Westwoodside last Saturday.
Charity funds almost trebled from last year as around £10,000 was raised for Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice and Isle charities at the Lex’s Legacy Pride of the Isle awards.
And chairwoman Leesa Sharpe is already inundated with requests for tickets for next year.
Emotion ran high at the event in a massive marquee decked out in green – the favourite colour of late seven-year old, Alexander Strong, whose courage as he faced cancer has inspired the annual fundraiser.
Glamorous Epworth star Sheridan Smith was there to hand out awards, then later joined brother Damian Dalton-Smith and his band The Torn on stage.
Over 400 people rose to their feet to give standing ovations . Three outright winners were Kira Yates, Lisa Stainton and Ethan Bettany.
Sheridan was visibly moved and often wiping away tears as she congratulated and hugged award recipients.
Kira has Apert Syndrome and has had 14 operations to rebuild her malformed body, supported by a metal bar in her neck. Her mother asked everyone to support Alderley Children’s Hospital as “without them Kira would have been pushed to one side.” Committee member Katie Anderson walked with Kira to collect her award, both wearing matching tiaras.
Lisa Stainton suffered a long critical illness and lost fingers and toes after contracting septicaemia. She is now a dialysis patient at Scunthorpe awaiting a transplant.
In a statement read for her, Lisa thanked family and friends for being there for her through her illness, and said she was “overwhelmed” to receive an award.
Teen cancer victim Ethan Bettany is in remission after operations and chemotherapy, but helps others by fundraising and raising awareness of testicular cancer in schools. He thanked his close friends and family, as he “would not have got through this as easily as I did without you.” He said he was ‘blown away’ after being approached by strangers who wanted to commend him.
Six other worthy finalists included tireless community stalwart Adi Sherwood, who runs Crowle Colts. He said he was embarrassed by the award as he greatly enjoys his youth work.
Brain tumour recoverer Rachel Hurst linked with supportive twin Jordan to take an award for outstanding siblings. Rachel was very ill for three years but said of her brother: “He’s a pain but I love him as he’s always there for me.”
Two-year old Amber Ghag wore a red dress for the occasion and collected her award with mum and dad. They said their world was ‘turned upside down’ on November 12 when leukaemia was diagnosed. Amber is now in remission. Her parents thanked Tiddlypeeps in Epworth and Sheffield Children’s Hospital for their care and support.
The Most Inspirational Award, made in memory of Alexander Strong, who inspired scores of others to keep battling, went to mum of three Deb McNaughton who has terminal cancer. Deb has shown great bravery but unfortunately was too ill to attend the awards.
Julie Reed was commended for community work around Crowle, particularly with Daisy Links. Julie has two disabled children but has helped to raise £655,000 for charity groups.
Karen Bettany was praised for her positive attitude when her son developed cancer and for shaving her head as part of fundraising efforts to help others. She said it was “great to be part of the evening.”
Steve Hayes was nominated by daughter Vashti for unstinting support, making “a very difficult time bearable” after family bereavements and the discovery that she had cancer at the age of 20.
Leo Palmer of Epworth, who rode in on his adapted trike to show how Pride of the Isle funds helped him, has progressed hugely with the trike and physiotherapy.
The black tie event included a sumptuous buffet and entertainment from The Torn, Kay Gale and the ENA Dance Academy, with Alexander’s favourite Star Wars Stormtroopers in attendance. Event sponsors were Co-operative Foods Epworth, Rolec Electrical and Tembe.
Chair of awards committee Leesa Sharpe said the night was amazing, adding, “I’m really, really proud of the committee who did a wonderful job.
“It makes you realise the Isle is a fantastic community who stick together.” Alexander Strong’s mother Maxine spoke out to tell the story of her beloved son, on the second anniversary of his death aged just seven.
Over £61,000 raised to help Alexander fight cancer has now gone to help others in the same situation. The awards, she said, are for those “who deal with what life throws at them in the way that Lex did.”
Sheridan’s mum Marilyn thanked Maxine for her speech, and told how she lost her son Julian, aged 18, to Hodgkins disease.
She added: “I’m proud of how my children have overcome this and gone on to make careers for themselves. I know how Max feels. This is one reason why Sheridan came tonight and always will come here.”