Friday 9th September 2016 saw the inaugural Candlelighters Awards, to celebrate the people who help us shine brighter.

It was a fantastic emotive afternoon, hosted by Emmerdale’s Matt Wolfenden, bursting with fantastic stories of how our supporters have tirelessly trekked, climbed, run, collected, volunteered and gone above and beyond for Candlelighters in 2015/6.

Benjamin Statham
All nominees and winners were invited on to the stage by Stephen

As Chair of the Trustees, Stephen Redman, said, everyone who had been nominated deserved an award. Here are the winners:

Team Effort of the Year: Team Olivia Weston

Team Olivia Weston, made up of Maryellen Jaques, Gemma Weston and Amanda Varley (as well as an army of family and friends!), has raised over £25,000 for Candlelighters in 2015/6 through their dedicated organisation of various events, such as a Family Day, Craft Fair, Fashion Show, a skydive, the Three Peaks challenge and a head shave.

Above and Beyond Effort of the Year: Bill Desmond

Bill has been collecting for Candlelighters for over thirty years now through distributing empty whisky bottles and collecting them when members of the local community fill them up with spare change. Each bottle holds an average of £200 and Bill has collected thousands over the years. His impact on the charity has been immense, and he’s still collecting now at the age of 82.

Weird and Wonderful Idea of the Year: Benidorm or Bust

This team of five decided to fundraise in true British spirit in the year that the Queen turned 90 by dressing up as her Majesty, Prince Philip, two beefeater guards and a bodyguard… and driving 1600 miles to Benidorm from Leeds in a battered old Jag. The team stopped off along the way at every opportunity to get out the red carpet and perform opening ceremonies. It was a truly hilarious idea, and a rewarding one as well, as the team have raised over £2500 for Candlelighters from this completely self-funded trip.

Young Fundraiser of the Year: Kai Sunley

Due to the effects of his treatment, Kai, a cancer survivor, took a gap year inbetween GCSEs and college, and dedicated his spare time to raising funds for Candlelighters. In February, he climbed to the top of Kilimanjaro (where he was the only person in his group of 50 to make it to the summit). This trip was funded entirely by Kai who worked at the Harrogate Holiday Inn to make sure he could go, and he raised an amazing £1760.

Company of the Year: Pure Data Solutions

The team at Pure Data have raised funds through event after event since 2015, including the Great North Run, Leeds Half Marathon, the Three Peaks Challenge and through climbing Snowdon. Additionally, staff members have kindly donated money from their salaries every month as well as participating in these events. So far, they have raised an amazing £12 000. On top of this, the company have sponsored the 2016-17 salary of our dinner lady, Elaine, who plays a vital part in catering for the needs of children going through treatment.

Company Colleague of the Year: Ruth Wilson- Dean’s Garden Centre

Ruth was nominated by a customer at Dean’s Garden Centre who was astounded by the work that she has done for Candlelighters over the years. Dean’s Garden Centre have supported us since 2015 and Ruth’s hard work has been highly appreciated.

Event of the Year: Michelle Pattison’s Pink and Sparkle

Michelle’s eight year old son Owen is currently on treatment and she decided to support Candlelighters by organising a fabulous Pink and Sparkle event in Menstone in April. Fun was had by all, when people gathered to drink, eat and bid on a range of action prizes. To top it off, the entertainment was provided by drag act Miss Syren! The event raised over £2000 for Candlelighters.

Volunteer of the Year: Allison Piggott

Allison has been volunteering for Candlelighters for over three years now, primarily at the Candlelighters Family Christmas Party where she dresses up to entertain the families. Throughout the year, she works tirelessly to secure brilliant raffle prizes and always brings lots of fun and laughter to the event.

Fundraiser of the Year: Mark Gallimore

Mark has taken on challenge after challenge to raise money for Candlelighters, to mark the third year of his son George’s treatment. Whether it was an overnight walk from Leeds to Sheffield, a 40 ft abseil, the Yorkshire Three Peaks, a Total Warrior race or a (upcoming!) Fire Walk, Mark has done it- and more!

It was also great to celebrate two special awards for Outstanding Contribution to Fundraising over the last 40 years, which were presented to the committees of Harrogate and Ilkley Candlelighters, by our Patron, Lady Emma Ingilby.

Thank you to all our judges, sponsors, guests and, of course, the wonderful nominees, for making this such a special occasion.