Our Heroes awards 2012: Community heroes given chance to shine
DOZENS of people were reduced to tears as a six-year-old boy walked on stage to collect a posthumous award on behalf of his father.
Matthew Goodall, aged 26, of Barthomley Road, Birches Head, died on the hospital ward where he worked on June 6, just two days after suffering a heart attack.
• GALLERY: The Sentinel's Our Heroes awards 2012
The loving fiance, father and nurse was among the award-winners at an emotionally charged Our Heroes celebration evening.
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Matt's son, Corey Stephens-Goodall – who had found his dad seriously ill before he was rushed to the University Hospital of North Staffordshire – bravely kept his emotions in check as he strode up to the stage to collect the Realise Foundation Award.
However, all around him, celebrities and fellow award-winners were in floods of tears, particularly after watching a video in which Corey, pictured below, spoke of his love for his dad.
Corey, a pupil at St George's and St Martin's Primary School in Birches Head, went on stage with his favourite teddy, Daddy Bear, named after his father, who goes everywhere with him.
He said: "I always remember the good times together.
"He was a good dad.
"I love him so much, I can never forget him."
Corey's mum, Sabrina Stephens, aged 28, who was engaged to Matt, said: "Matt would have been so proud of Corey."
It was just one of many tear-jerking moments as a succession of inspiring stories were read out as award-winners were introduced on stage.
Nathan Blackaby was the first winner of the night, receiving the award for Bright Young Thing from entertainer Jonathan Wilkes.
The unassuming 17-year-old took on the role of carer for his foster mum, Violet Keeling, when she lost her sight and was struck down by illness.
He made sure her life remained full and happy until her death in March.
Nathan, a former Blythe Bridge High School pupil who is now studying hair and beauty at Stoke-on-Trent College, said: "It's a bit overwhelming, but nice.
"I think my foster mum would be proud of me."
Child of Courage Dylan Kelsall, aged nine, of Longton, was next up, receiving his award from Hollyoaks actress Rachel Shenton.
Some of the younger winners were treated to vouchers for days out at Splash Landings and Alton Towers, Trentham Monkey Forest and The Regent Theatre, in addition to their trophy.
Community Group of the Year went to Fresh Hair Wigs and Beauty, which provides wigs for cancer patients who have lost their hair.
The salon opened at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire in June 2011, and was set up by former breast cancer patient Fiona Ford, with the support of breast care nurse Helen Francis.
Fiona, aged 48, of Woore, said: "I feel thrilled to bits. It has been a team effort."
Helen, aged 48, of Madeley, said: "I see the difference it makes every day."
The School Star award went to a teacher who has spent almost three decades teaching children with severe learning and physical difficulties.
Pauline Norvall, aged 59, who has now retired from Fenton's Kemball School, said: "I felt nervous going to pick up the award, but it's wonderful."
No inspiring words were needed from guitarist David Jiminez Hughes to bring the audience to their feet.
The 20-year-old, from Silverdale, was a runner-up in this year's Stoke's Top Talent and he impressed during a break in the proceedings with his innovative and self-taught guitar stylings.
Then it was back to business, with Steve Meakin receiving his award for Good Neighbour from Potteries entertainer Pete Conway.
The 60-year-old, of Newcastle, who has spent more than 10 years speaking out for social housing tenants, summed up the entire evening, when he said: "I haven't shed any tears for a long while, before tonight.
"I'm overwhelmed. It's inspiring just being here, seeing the children and all the things they do.
"The award makes me think that I am doing something right. I will carry on doing it while I draw breath."
Stephen Allerton had fallen ill, so was unable to collect his award for Adult Carer of the Year.
The 48-year-old, of Meir, gave up his job as an engineer to care for his mother, Joyce, who had severe mental health problems, father Thomas, who suffered a series of strokes, and brother Paul, who has Down's Syndrome.
Film-maker Chris Stone, collected the award on his behalf.
Chris, aged 28, of Meir Park, said: "He will be thrilled.
"He's so dedicated and always happy. He's such an amazing guy, he's one in a trillion."
TV presenter Nick Hancock gave out the award for Hero of the NHS to Christine Kettle, aged 62, a midwife who has become a world renowned expert in her field.
Christine, who grew up in Newcastle, said: "It's amazing.
"It just puts the whole issue in the spotlight, everything I wanted to do for women locally, nationally and internationally.
"I shall be carrying on with my work."
Graham and Pat Bourne, of May Bank, have dedicated more than 100 years between them to scouting and they received the Charity Champions award from World Cup winner and Stoke legend Gordon Banks.
Pat was nine when she first joined the brownies, while Graham started with the scouts at the age of 10.
Pat, now aged 70, and still an active member of the scouts, said: "It feels fantastic. It's great for scouting.
"I've always enjoyed it. It has been our lives."
Graham, aged 75, said: "We are inspired by all the young ones."
A team of medics based at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire won the Beyond the Call of Duty award, after they put their skills to the test in a hospital deep within the heart of a battle zone in war-torn Afghanistan.
Out of the team of four, two medics – Simon Davies, a 52-year-old major trauma co-ordinator at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire, of Stone; and assistant resuscitation officer and nurse Pamela Crowley, aged 44, of Newchapel – were unable to attend the ceremony because they are training for another tour of duty in Afghanistan.
Instead, staff nurse Rachel Whitehouse, aged 35, from Newcastle, and critical care nurse Dawn Moss, aged 38, of Stoke, collected the award on behalf of the whole team.
Dawn said: "It's wonderful, it's great news for the hospital and for the TA.
"I would like to thank our family and friends. And I'd also like to thank the hospital for allowing us to go."
Rachel said: "I feel shocked. This is not just for us, it is for everyone who goes out to Afghanistan. It is a team effort."
The final two awards of the night went to Matthew Goodall, who was named as the winner of the inaugural Realise Foundation Award, and to 92-year-old fund-raising champion Marjorie Machin who picked up TheSentinel Editor's Award for her efforts on behalf of the Douglas Macmillan Hospice. The evening was brought to a close by soprano Carrie-Ann Williams, aged 23, of Congleton, fresh from her Stoke's Top Talent triumph at the weekend.
She once again brought the crowd to its feet with a powerful rendition of Nessun Dorma, the song from Puccini's opera Turandot made famous by Luciano Pavarotti.
It proved a fitting end to an emotional night of tears, smiles and inspiration.