An inspirational evening celebrating all that is great about Corby saw awards given to six deserving winners.
The Spirit of Corby awards took place at the Corby Core Theatre in front of an audience of dignitaries, civic officials and members of the public.
The winners were nominated by the public and then shortlisted by a panel before being put to the public vote.
Friday’s ceremony, compered by Corby Council leisure manager Kevin Williams, featured a performance from local contemporary dance group Bodyrox as well as a touching film about the Spirit of Corby by young film-makers HD Media.
Presenting the overall Spirit of Corby award to social media campaigner Liam Ferguson, Joe Flavin, director of Corby Core, said: “I’ve a job that’s taken me all over the British Isles.
“In five months in Corby I’ve seen what you people have. What’s amazing is how everybody fights for each other.
“All the nominees should be so proud of what you do for each other.”
Leader of Corby Council Tom Beattie said: “With everything that’s going on in local government it’s so much more important to celebrate our community.
“The last year has shown us how much our community stands together: how much we build each other up.
“This is the Spirit of Corby.”
Community Spirit Award (sponsored by Northamptonshire Police): An award for making your area safer or stronger
WINNER Liam Ferguson
Nominees: Ronnie Vickers and KHL Local
Liam Ferguson won the Community Spirit award for setting up Sharing the Kindness, a 9,000-strong group that has helped hundreds of people donate useful items for free to other people living in Corby. Liam said: “We’re just short of 10,000 members in our fifth month and we’re helping people every day.
“I’m over the moon. It’s all about the community who have banded together to make this group work so well.”
Environmental Spirit Award (sponsored by Tata Steel): An award for working to protect or improve the natural or built environment
WINNER Ron Jeans
Nominees: The Oakley Rangers and Finlay Greenfield
Former steelworker Ron won the award for his contribution to creating the beautiful gardens at Coronation Park in Cottingham Road, Corby. The audience at Friday’s ceremony heard how Ron is in the gardens ‘day-in, day-out’ to help grow flowers, plant bulbs and pick up litter.
Creative Spirit Award: For someone who has shown a talent or given up time to help develop others in the arts.
WINNER Debbie Keith
Nominees: Mark Phipps and Sophia Madden
Debbie is bringing up her partner Adam’s children as well as her own after he died of cancer in 2015. After Adam died Debbie took up dancing as a way to keep herself busy and active and took part in Strictly Corby, raising more money than any other contestant. She also makes scrabble tile crafts to raise money for charity. Her award was presented in her absence to her step-daughter Grace Winkworth, 13, who said: “I’ve known Debbie for five or six years now and it didn’t take me long to work out just how creative and charitable she is.
“It’s been a pleasure to be a part of her life.”
Club Spirit Award (Sponsored by Quantum Print): For contribution towards a local club or society
WINNER Disability Swim Group
Nominees: Kevin Manson and Corby Running Marvels
The Disability Swim Group meets at Corby swimming pool and is run by a group of women who wanted to make it easier for people with disabilities to access the town’s state-of-the-art facilities. One of the group’s founders, Jaine King, said: “The nominees in our group were amazing so we didn’t expect to win.
“I’m so chuffed. We started this group because we all have children with additional needs. Some families never get to swim together so we just wanted to give them that opportunity.
“We have people coming from different counties to take part. I’m so pleased that seven years ago I stuck a pin in the map and chose to come to Corby because of that amazing facility across the road.”
Educational Spirit Award (sponsored by Spirit Hyundai): For contribution to education
WINNER Sarah Fleming
Nominees: Maplefields Circle of Friends and Corby Fishing Club
Sarah is totally dedicated to making the lives of children at Beanfield Primary School better. As Safeguarding and Child Protection Manager, she ensures every child has a safe space, has someone to talk to and she has helped to set up a school Glee Club to provide a group for those who many not otherwise have the opportunity to take part in singing.
She said: “At Beanfield we care for children, we nurture them and we give every child a voice.”
Young Spirit of Corby Award (Sponsored by Savoy Cinema): For someone under 25 who has made a contribution to their local community
WINNER Leo Noakes/ Violet Vixen
Nominees: Emily Fisher & Jaymz Buckley, and Katie Bradbury
Leo spends his free time dressed up as drag artist Violet Vixen. He said he has no wish to change gender - he just likes wearing dresses and heels. The 11-year-old made a video of his escapades on Youtube that has been watched more than a million times. He hopes to inspire a generation of children to wear exactly what they want to wear without fear of bullying. He said: “I just want to say to people to be true to who you are.
“It’s unbelievable to have won this award.”
OVERALL SPIRIT OF CORBY: Liam Ferguson