Volunteer champs are rewarded for their efforts

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The spotlight was on the dedication of our district’s many volunteers at a special civic event.

The Love Your Volunteer awards evening at Batley Town Hall last Saturday celebrated the best of those who work for others across Kirklees.

Linda Shilito from Dewsbury won Volunteer of the Year. Pictured with Mayor Paul Kane. AB059a0216

Linda Shilito from Dewsbury won Volunteer of the Year. Pictured with Mayor Paul Kane. AB059a0216

The Mayor of Kirklees Paul Kane, who organised the event, said it was put on to “honour and recognise people for the wonderful work they do and the unpaid hours they put in.”

“It is often the case that those who have the least give the most.”

Trophies were handed to figures such as Batley historian Malcolm Haigh, who received an award for Longest Serving Volunteer from the town’s MP Jo Cox.

Mr Haigh has served in Batley’s Civic Society, Conservation Group, Community Alliance, Cemetery Support Group and Rotary Club among other others during his 68 years of volunteering. He is also the chairman of Batley History Group. “I was dumbfounded when I learned I had been selected as the longest serving volunteer in the room that night,” said Mr Haigh, of Solway Road, Soothill.

Linda Shillito was awarded Volunteer of the Year but was unable to attend to due illness. Mayor of Kirklees Paul Kane visited her home in Heckmondwike Road, Dewsbury, on Tuesday to present the trophy to her.

For 11 years she has held fundraising nights at the Old Bank Working Men’s Club in Mirfield for many charities.

She celebrates her 65th birthday on October 6 with a function at the club for Blind Veterans UK. Linda said: “I’m still in shock. I never expected it. I’m overwhelmed absolutely.”

Her commitment to charity work dates back to the first fundraiser for the Alzheimer’s Society in 2005.

Since that time her nights have raised £20,640 for 17 different charities. “I got so much of a buzz from it that I’ve carried on doing it,” she said.

The Mayor’s ‘Friends of’ Award went to volunteers at Oakwell Hall, and the trophy was presented to chairman Roger Knight.

The award for Event of the Year was handed organisers of the opening of the crossing the Pennines Heritage Trail at Slaithwaite and Marsden, run by The Milestone Society. This was also an award chosen by the Mayor and Mayoress Susan Bedford.

The celebration was the first civic event to be held in Batley for many years.

Organisers of festivals, champions of community sports, social groups, support networks and more were in attendance.

The ceremony was compered by Andrew Marsden of the Batley Business Association and Simon Thirkill of the Heckmondwike Alliance.

Mr Marsden said: “It was a real pleasure to have taken part in this event, and have the opportunity to add my own thanks to the many local volunteers who have and continue to support our communities.”

Sponsors of the event were Locala, the Kirklees Council Batley District Committee, the University of Huddersfield, Batley builders Binks Vertical, Dewsbury-based arts organisation Creative Scene and Jo Cox MP.

It was partly organised and supported by the Batley Business Association.