WIRRAL’S unsung heroes were in the spotlight last night as their hard work was recognised at the first-ever Wirral's Golden Globes Awards ceremony.
The glittering event, which was held at the Floral Pavilion, New Brighton, celebrated the borough’s best during a night of tears, smiles and laughter.
And a galaxy of local celebrities turned out to pay tribute to Wirral’s heroes, including Great British Bake-Off TV star Paul Hollywood, comedian Stan Boardman, singer Steve McFarlane, renowned journalist and poet Peter Grant and Radio Merseyside story-teller/musician Cath Roberts.
Former Brookside actress Suzanne Collins, country singer Charlie Landsboroughand celebrity blogger and star of Desperate Scousewives Jaiden Michael also presented awards.
Frankie Goes to Hollywood guitarist/singer Brian “Nasher” Nash brought the ceremony to a thundering close with his powerful solo rendition of the band’s 1984 number-one smash hit The Power of Love.
Miss Northwest Stephanie Hodson added a touch of glamour to the evening and top Radio Merseyside presenter Roger Lyon hosted the event and ensured everything ran without a hitch.
Among the deserving winners was Foster Carer of the Year, Diane Rourke, who has been taking in youngsters for more than 10 years.
Despite suffering illness and bereavement, kind-hearted Diane continued to provide a safe environment and was hailed as “one in a million” by her daughters.
Picking up Neighbour of the Year was Denise Oldham who, in spite of battling ME, has taken an 96-year-old woman under her wing.
She calls in on the pensioner every week to take her out shopping or for a pub lunch and is referred to as a “beautiful angel.”
Next was Julie Ann Cochrane-Walsh who scooped the award for Parent of the Year for bringing up and looking after her ex-partner’s two children who have learning difficulties.
Determined to give them the best start in life – even in tough financial times - Julie Ann sold her house to ensure they could all stay together.
Accepting her prize, she said: “I only did what any mother would do and I would do it all again, as I’m sure any parent would.”
Fundraiser Martin Pritchard-Howarth was selected as the winner of the Sportsperson of the Year category for taking on gruelling challenges such as a run across the Sahara Desert and a swim across the River Mersey to raise more than £5,000 for charity.
Thanking his “patient and motivating” wife, Martin said he was “humbled” to be among such inspiring people.
The award for Contribution to the Community was handed to Lee Pennington who set up The Open Door Centre in Wallasey for young people with mental health issues.
He wanted to set up a place where people would not feel judged and could open up in a comfortable environment.
Scooping the accolade for Volunteer of the Year was Olwen Jones who was among the founders of children’s hospice Claire House.
As one of the original people behind the Wirral-based hospice, she worked with her late husband, Ron, to champion the charity and even open up a shop to raise funds.
Accepting her award, Olwen said the hospice goes a long way to help local families during their hour of need and is proud to be a part of it.
Wirral woman Helen McKeown was named as Adult Learner of the Year for her efforts at the Tomorrow’s Women project where she has taken courses in cookery, budgeting and beauty therapy.
And picking up the award for Young Hero of the Year was teenager Oscar Ratnaike who has stood by his brother, Alex, who has complex medical needs meaning he cannot walk or talk.
The youngster walked alongside Alex when he was selected to carry to the Paralympic Torch earlier this year and has also raised cash for Claire House where his brother attends.
Oscar said: “I am so humbled to be here tonight. Loving and caring for my brother isn’t a hobby or a job – it’s just a way of life, whether he can walk or not.”
Other finalists in each category were: Sue Johnston, Jane Jones, Christina Kearney, Christopher McDermott, Phil Morris, Angie Churchill, Sarah Morris and Emma Jane Mccabe.
All were presented with a framed certificate and a bottle of bubbly.
Wallasey-born Paul Hollywood eloquently summed up the evening, telling the 170-strong audience: “In the Bake-Off there are always losers whose efforts are flawed. There were no absolutely no losers here tonight and it has been a flawless event.
“Everyone who was nominated was a winner.
“It has been a delight for me to have been involved in Wirral’s Golden Globes.”