There was a night of glitz, glamour and joy as the winners of the High Sheriff awards were revealed.
The annual awards night, which recognises volunteering and charity projects across South Yorkshire, was at the Lifewise Centre in Hellaby, Rotherham.
Judges faced the difficult task of reducing the list of almost 100 nominees down to 28 short-listed finalists, who attended the ceremony.
And from there the judges faced the almost impossible job of picking out the category winners.
Among them was Sheffield’s Sophie Maxwell, who won the High Sheriff Award 2013, given to the person who made a distinguished contribution to the life of a community.
The judges praised Sophie, aged 25, a former drug and alcohol addict who was at one time homeless, for developing The Really NEET College, Sheffield, which has created a safe place for young adults ‘not in education, employment and training.’
“Receiving The High Sheriff Award for 2013 was completely unexpected and frankly overwhelming,” said Sophie, who has successfully worked with 34 young people outside of mainstream education, many of who come from troubled backgrounds.
“On the night I was in incredible company, it was so moving to hear the stories of other people who were receiving awards.
“Founding the Really NEET college has been an incredible journey and this year has been our most successful yet.
“I would like to thank my incredible team who must share this award, for working tirelessly to improve the lives of other people.”
The other winners were Sheffield Churches Council for Community Care, who won the best large community project award, and Baby Basics, who won the best small community project award.
The unsung hero award went to Peter Burnett, a fundraiser at St Luke’s Hospice for 20 years, while Masarat Din, who helped to raise £200,000 to support countries which have suffered natural disasters since 2004, was crowned fundraiser of the year.
The young fundraiser of the year was Peter David Robertshaw for his volunteer work in Barnsley, Susan Prasad won the project volunteer of the year for her commitment to local and national swimming and Lauren Ogley won the young project volunteer of the year for her work with the Exodus Project.
The High Sheriff Award Certificate 2013 went to the Sheffield Royal Society for Blind Volunteers as well as the In2Change South Yorkshire Limited, who offer resettlement support to both adult and young offenders and their families.
South Yorkshire’s High Sheriff Julie Kenny said: “We haven’t been able to believe the response, it’s been overwhelming.
“The hardest task for the judges was deciding just one winner from each category.”