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On Friday 23rd September we gathered at the Gild Hall, Formby to celebrate the achievements of our local heroes.

Comperes Maria Cusick and Tony Topping
Comperes Maria Cusick and Tony Topping

The night was hosted by Mitie Radio presenters who compared the night brilliantly, Maria Cusick and Tony Topping.

The Pride of Formby Awards have been running for a few years with the last one being held in 2019. The winners for 2020 were chosen but unfortunately the event had to be cancelled due to covid19, as was the following year 2021. So the winner announced for 2022 are the winners who were chosen in 2020 and it was agreed that they should have their night to be awarded this year.

These awards are to recognise our unsung heroes within our local community and to give them a special night and an award for what they have achieved in our community. It is also due to their selflessness to our community and without these winners many of the things that take place in Formby would not happen. We have come to rely on volunteers from all backgrounds to keep our community ticking over and they do it without thought for themselves or any recognition.

We had an additional award this year for a person/persons or group who contributed to their community throughout the pandemic and helped to make people’s lives during the pandemic not so lonely.

We would like to thank all our winners for what they have done in our community and who have made a difference and impact.


Pride Of Formby Award Winners and Presenters
Pride Of Formby Award Winners and presenters. Top row: Zack Dowling, Rachael Clague, Cllr Leo Kolassa, Cllr Bob McCann, Fiona Matthews, Tina Hamilton. Bottom Row: Barbara Smith, Joyce O’Connell, Carol Shanks, Mayor of Sefton Cllr Clare Carragher, Catherine Last, Tashi Thornley

Make Noise 2 Choir, who have just returned from performing in Disneyland, Paris opened the awards night and Make Noise Choir entertained us during the interval.

Make Noise Choir
Make Noise Choir

Make Noise 2 Choir
Make Noise 2 Choir

Teacher of the Year – Rachael Clague

This Award recognises a person or school whose teaching, leadership or mentoring has inspired others to achieve more in their education and career. Judges looked for either an individual or an organisation that has made a real difference in their student’s lives within a Formby School, either primary or secondary.

Teacher of the Year Award Winner, Rachael Clague

The nominee had this to say “Pinefields Centre is a complementary education setting for children from Year 9 to Year 11 who can not attend main stream school due to mental health problems like anxiety, autism etc and other medical issues. Rachael goes above and beyond to help and make sure every child has their own tailored education health care plan (EHCP), to help them achieve the best possible outcome academically that can be achieved in such a small setting with a very limited budget and resources.”

Community Group Award – Little Tiddlers Playgroup, Joyce O’Connell and Barbara Smith

This award recognises the efforts made in the volunteering sector and who have made an exceptional contribution to their local community.

Community Group Award Winners, Barbara Smith and Joyce O'Connell

The nominee had this to say “Joyce O’Connell and Barbara Smith are both grandmothers of grandchildren living in Formby. They are both senior citizens (over 70 but don’t tell anyone) and for the past 19 years they have run Little Tiddlers Toddler Group at Holy Trinity Church. Each Monday they arrive at 7.15am to set up the hall so mums with young children are able to spend quality time with their children. They spend countless hours each week on admin, training and frequent trips to Southport to buy new toys, Christmas and Easter gifts for every child who comes. They have also taken on the toddler group at Redgate School as it was about to fold. For ladies of advancing ages they have immense energy which they invest in providing an invaluable community service. A recent Formby Bubble post praising the pair showed just how valued they are.”

Extra Mile Award – Village Circular Bus Drivers Paul, Gerry and Tracy

This award is for someone who in the course of their job has gone that extra mile to help someone in the local community or assisted someone who needed emergency help or aid. They could be a doctor, nurse, council worker, shop assistant, bus driver, emergency services etc.

Extra Mile Award Winners, Village Bus drivers Tracy and Gerry

This is what a few of the nominees said “All the bus drivers on the local buses. They are kind, considerate and to say they cheer us oldies up is an understatement. Cheers me up every time, it’s a pleasure to go on the bus.”

“The drivers give all possible assistance to passengers and make a special effort at Christmas by decorating the buses. They know many of their passengers’ names and always greet them when getting on and off the bus”

Carer Award – Carol Shanks

This award recognises someone who either looks after or helps to support other people. It could be a family member at home, a friend or relative. They may run errands, do shopping, tidy homes and gardens, help to care for pets or simply pop round for a morale boosting chat, and if part of their career, going above and beyond their job requirements.

Carer of the Year Award Winner, Carol Shanks

The nominee had this to say “Carol is a one in a billion woman. She has been an absolute star to so many and truly deserves a Pride of Formby award. For the past 5 years she has cared for me throughout my battle with cancer and then through all the complications which leave me visiting the hospital multiple times a week. Apart from this she has also battled through her own cancer journey. Despite all this she has continued to volunteer doing assemblies in schools, outreach events in the local community, being part of a carers group, visiting people in hospital, organising with team support free games at the Christmas lights switch on, free events at the library for people, helped organise the sheep trail in Formby each Christmas, and being part of pop up tables in coffee shops for people who may feel lonely to talk to someone. She also helps with groups at Formby Methodist Church and also leading some worship around Formby, Crosby and Blundellsands as lay preacher. The list goes on, these are just some of numerous things which spring to mind.

Carol gives so much of herself with no expectations of recognition or reward, the reward to her is the joy she can help to bring to people. I would not have got through the last five years without her and am just one of many people she has and continues to support physically, emotionally, mentally and in practical terms. So many lives have been and are enriched by her actions and selflessness. Please reward her for all the amazing work she has done and continues to do despite any obstacles thrown in her path.”

Sports Award – Fiona Matthews and Tina Hamilton

You don’t have to be top of the league or a gold medal winner to enter this category. The winner will be a team with a passion and drive for sport.

Sports Award Winners, Tina Hamilton and Fiona MatthewsThe nominee had this to say about Fiona Matthews, “Fiona runs the womens football team for Formby Community Football Club and offers support, guidance and goes beyond her role as a coach, offering support for all the ladies playing. Her success in building up the side has seen Fiona managing 2 teams of ladies from 20 up to 76. Her patience, kindness and support knows no bounds and she should be recognised for this.”

The nominee had this to say about Tina Hamilton, “Six years ago my daughter played football in a team for the first time. She was very nervous and nearly backed out several times. Meeting new people and doing new things was a scary thing for a 7 year old. The moment she turned up, Tina greeted her with a massive smile and gave her so much encouragement. 7 years on she is playing in 3 teams and is captain of her school team. This is down to Tina. She has encouraged her every step of the way with her positive outlook.

In the last few years she has set up a management team and started a brand new football club. In this short time the club nearly has 400 members including 200 girls and ladies playing football for Formby Community Football Club. The club is truly inclusive, age, gender or ability are not an obstacle for new members. The youngest player is aged 3 up to the oldest aged 76.

Tina’s passion for developing a community club for the future is infectious. Community is not just a name it’s the way the club plan their vision. From walking football to several women’s teams this seems to be only the start. Mental health, loneliness and disability are also in the plans for making this club a jewel in the crown of Formby. Without Tina none of this would have happened.”

Fundraiser of the Year (Young Person) – Zack Dowling

Someone who is an amateur fundraiser, not necessarily raising the most money but using the most innovative or creative methods to do so in order to help others. It could be a one-off project or something they have done regularly over a number of years.

Young Fundraiser of the Year Award Winner, Zack DowlingThe nominee had this to say “Zack attends Range High School and is deserving of this award as he is different to other teenagers and has gone above and beyond by raising money on a number of occasions for Queenscourt Hospice.

Zack decided he wanted to make a difference and help people who were less fortunate. He decided to raise money for Queenscourt Hospice as he felt sorry for people dying from terrible illnesses. He has also been affected by a close family friend dying of cancer.

Zack’s nana volunteers at the hospice and had told him there is limited funding for the kitchen equipment and desperately needed money to buy a specialist dishwasher to sterilise equipment. This was unaffordable as they cost over £4,000!

Zack was determined to help and when he was aged 9, he organised a sponsored swim and swam 25 lengths by himself at Formby Pool. He raised well over £600 but Zack wanted to do more and organised a guess the sweet competition at school, he also helped with a cake sale which raised almost another £250.00!

This inspired others and additional funds were raised at a charity dinner where Zack wrote and performed an amazing speech in front of 100 people to promote the charity and inspire others to do things. This combined with Zach’s other efforts ensured enough funds were raised to purchase the dishwasher.

Zack was keen for another challenge and asked what else he could do. Special pans and cutlery were needed but they are also expensive so Zack entered a junior triathlon on behalf of the hospice to raise more money. Zack had never done anything like it before and trained really hard. He did amazingly well and single-handedly raised over £1,000! So, as well as the dishwasher, new pans and cutlery have been purchased thanks to Zack.

Zack has raised nearly £2,000 for the hospice so far but not as part of a fundraising team – it has all been his idea because he wanted to help others. He does not realise what a huge impact his fundraising has had and does not think that he has done anything special. Zack is a kind and thoughtful boy and definitely an inspiration to others…. But he is not finished there and is planning his next challenge.

Zack is constantly thinking of ways to raise money and what he can do next. He doesn’t think that he is special and says he does not do it for the glory. A few weeks ago he found an elderly lady in Ainsdale village who seemed upset on a mobility scooter, he stopped to check she was ok and found out that her scooter had broken down so he pushed her all the way home and made sure she got into her house which I don’t think many teenagers would do. He thinks that anyone would do the same but I am very proud that he is kind and helpful to the community. He thinks that everyone does this and has no idea what a rare thing this is especially at such a young age.”

Fundraiser of the Year (Adult) – Catherine Last

Someone who is an amateur fundraiser, not necessarily raising the most money but using the most innovative or creative methods to do so in order to help others. It could be a one-off project or something they have done regularly over a number of years.

We received a lot of nominations for Catherine, this is what a few of the nominees said:

Fundraiser of the Year Award Winner, Catherine Last“I wish to nominate Catherine, because she is an extraordinary, gifted, passionate young woman and fundraiser. She is completely committed to giving all those she meets, whether they are children or adults, the opportunity to shine through the vehicle of music and song. This gift she has doesn’t stop with teaching singing in three Formby schools, St. Jereomes, St Luke’s and Formby High, in establishing the Last Act Performing Arts Academy and also in setting up the adult and young peoples Make Noise choirs. All operating in Formby.

Catherine returned to live in Formby, her home town, 4 years ago. She set up her choirs, singing tuition and academy and immediately established a fundraising regime in all her work. Her first venture was to raise money for Cancer Research and this was followed by raising money for Huntington’s Disease (one of the choir members suffers from this). Over the past couple of years she has raised money for Woodlands Hospice. Help for Harry (a young boy with Duchene Muscular Dystrophy) and for cancer treatment for her brother, Matthew Henderson. Matthew, at aged 42 was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer in 2017. He battled long and hard to overcome it but it claimed his life on 5 May 2019. Catherine, in spite of the heartbreak of her brothers illness and death has held Summer and Christmas concerts, an 80’s night, many raffles in various venues including the Gild Hall, our Lady’s Church, the concert room of St George’s Hall, the crypt of and the main Metropolitan Cathedral. These events have raised over £55,000. She is my daughter, a very humble woman, an unsung hero who deserves recognition for not just her fundraising but the way she enthuses others to fundraise too!”

“Catherine established Make a Noise choir in Formby in 2015 with just 30 singers and since then this has grown to over 160 members. Make a Noise 2 was later established for children aged 8-17 which now currently has over 60 members. The choirs have brought together people of all ages. Everyone is encouraged to express themselves in a completely safe environment under Catherine’s incredible direction. Catherine’s ethos is to be totally inclusive which has given all members a sense of community with a shared love for singing with no requirement to audition to become a member. As well as teaching singing at home and in local schools, Catherine also launched a performing arts academy in Formby providing those who attend a rounded musical theatre training for ages 3 – 18. I am nominating Catherine as she is a true inspiration to all she meets! Since launching Make Noise choirs, Catherine has organised concerts including all members which have become an opportunity to not only raise vital funds for charity but share the joy of music with the wider community. To date these events have raised over £50,000 for charities including, Huntington’s Disease Association, Cancer Research and Woodlands Hospice who provided incredible care for her brother who sadly passed away in May 2019. She engages those around her with her tireless passion and commitment and is kind, caring, dedicated and a wonderful role model. It would be lovely for Catherine to be recognised in the local community.”

Courage Award – Laura Hughes

This award recognises someone who has overcome adversity, experienced family tragedy, dealt with a huge challenge or tackled something completely new. Despite their situation they may have turned a negative into a positive to help others or inspire others.

Courage Award Winner, Laura Hughes, Cllr Dawn Brodie accepted the award on behalf of Laura Hughes.Laura couldn’t attend the evening so her friend Cllr Dawn Brodie accepted it on her behalf.

The nominee had this to say “Laura’s brother Colin McGinty was murdered in 2001, when he was just 21, in what police believe was a tragic case of mistaken identity. He was chased down a street and stabbed to death; all he did wrong was look like someone else.

Rather than allowing herself to be jaded or hardened by life’s cruelties, Laura has instead committed herself to do all she can to prevent another family from suffering the senseless agony which hers has endured. As the reports of knife crime reach a ten-year high, and the typical ages of both the victims and offenders appear to become younger and younger, Laura passionately believes in raising awareness about the real lasting effects and irreversible impact of knife carrying culture. She firmly believes that accountable parenting is key as well as connecting with youngsters on their level, urging them to think hard about their options before they resort to carrying a knife. Her focus is on preventing another young person turning into one of the thugs who murdered Colin.

Laura has taken her campaign to end knife crime into schools across the North West, starting with an academy trust, E-ACT, which operates 28 schools around the country, to deliver knife crime awareness days. Everton in the Community and Merseyside Police are now partners to Laura’s campaign, and have worked together with her to go into schools and invite children to create their own media campaigns on the issue which have been broadcast on local radio.

Back in September 2018, when Laura was not a runner, and struggled to complete 1 kilometre, she signed up with her three remaining brothers, to run the May 2019 Rock N Roll Half marathon in Liverpool in Colin’s memory. Due to Laura’s charismatic and positive intensity, that team of 4 ballooned to over 90 runners, and £11,000 was raised for Cash for Kids, a local Merseyside fund, with a commitment for some of that funding to go towards anti knife crime campaigning. Laura went on to run at least 4 half marathon events in 2019, and after getting countless people off the sofa and into trainers to join her, Laura then set up a running club in Waterloo, meeting every Wednesday which is thriving, and holds a new couch to 5K program every 10 weeks open to anyone wishing to get involved.

8 of the team also ran the London Marathon. 4 schools in Merseyside were selected to design the costume that the running team wore, to aid the anti knife crime campaign.

The fundraising done by Laura has gone to pay for “Bleed Control Kits” which have been distributed across Merseyside. Similar to the way a defibrillator can help save a heart attack victim whilst waiting for a paramedic, the installation of these kits, installed in specifically selected locations, can help save the life of someone with a serious bleed, such as a knife wound victim or other serious trauma. Laura has been on a training course on how to use these kits and is personally instrumental in their roll out across Merseyside. To date the campaign has raised over £20,000.

In June 2019 Laura was the Overall Co-Winner of the Merseyside Woman of The Year Awards and also won the Social Impact Award.

Her positivity is as infectious as her laugh, and she has little to no idea how inspirational and incredible her achievements to date are, as she is too busy pressing on with the next project to ever look back and take stock of how far she has come. She’s an energetic juggernaut who will carry other in her currents of positive thinking and belief in a better future. Her family and friends could not be prouder of her or her achievements.”

Special Pandemic Award for Supporting the Community During Covid-19 – Formby Community Football Club

This is a special one-off award that recognises someone or an organisation who have been there supporting their community throughout the pandemic.

Special Pandemic Award For Supporting the Community During Covid-19 Winners, Formby Community Football ClubWhen they were told all grassroots football would stop due to COVID19 and football went away in 2020, Formby Community Football Club didn’t. In the spirit of bringing the community together and making sure no one felt left out or alone, they made the decision to print leaflets and drop through as many doors as possible in Formby to help people who were self-isolating.

They dropped off prescriptions, shopping, made “company calls” to lonely people, helped cut grass and put out bins. They also drove people to and from the vaccination centres to have their vaccines done.

Over the course of 2020, the club delivered afternoon teas to 105 homes for VE Day, sent out chocolate bars and flowers on May Day bank holiday. They sent out birthday cards, sympathy cards and anniversary cards during the lockdowns. At Christmas they delivered mini hampers to the homes of those they were helping and distributed boxes of biscuits to the care homes and emergency services across Formby.

Formby Community Football Club have answered over 2500 requests and helped look after 502 homes across Formby.