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Volunteer Heroes Crowned!

The community turned out in force on Wednesday 7 September to see local volunteers crowned at a glittering awards celebration evening we held at the AccXel Training Centre in Cinderford.

We created the Forest Volunteer Awards to recognise and celebrate the amazing efforts of local volunteers in the Forest of Dean.


Earlier this Summer, we asked local people to nominate those volunteer heroes who have demonstrated exceptional and outstanding support to the local community over the past 12 months. The response was amazing and we received hundreds of nominations.  An expert panel had the tough task of shortlisting the nominations and picking the winners. However, one category - Volunteer of the Year – Peoples’ Champion – was decided by a public vote with almost 900 votes cast.


The winners were crowned at a special evening, held at the stunning conference space at the impressive AccXel Training Centre, which was provided for free to FVAF by local construction company the KW Bell Group, who were the main sponsors of the event.  


Volunteer of the Year went to Les Cockle, volunteer fundraiser at Great Oaks Hospice whilst Forest of Dean Host Ukrainians and Ukraine Community Hub jointly picked up the Community Voluntary Group of the Year.


Young volunteers were celebrated with Keira Stone, volunteer at disability group, Together We Can crowed under 16 years old Young Volunteer of the Year, whilst in the 17 – 25 years old category, Chloe Whatley and Jordan Terrel were rewarded for their tireless hard work volunteering at the Sea Cadets in Lydney.


Lisa Tootell was crowned Outstanding New Volunteer of the Year for her amazing impact for the Girl Guides in the Forest of Dean and Hips Social were recognised for supporting the local community and investing in improving the local area.


The winners were presented with an award, a framed certificate and £100 Amazon voucher, kindly provided by sponsors the KW Bell Group.


Deb Cook, Volunteering Manager at FVAF said “So much of what happens within our community is because of people who give their time and energy for free. We think that recognising the amazing efforts of volunteers and organisations is incredibly important which is why we have been so pleased by the reaction of the local people who have supported these awards by nominating and voting.”


Deb added, “It has been an incredible evening and we are so lucky and proud of the strength of the amazing voluntary sector we have in the Forest.”


Master of Ceremony for the Forest Volunteer Awards was Kate Clark, BBC Radio Gloucestershire presenter who kept the guests entertained with her expert hosting skills. Award winners were announced by guest presenter; Roger Deeks (FVAF Trustee), Nicola Bird and Yvonne Bell (KW Bell and main sponsor), Sue Middleton (Verderer of the Forest of Dean), Andy Lewis MBE (PT2 Para triathlete), Neill Ricketts (Founder of Versarien and chair the Forest of Dean Economic Partnership).


The celebration evening was made possible thanks to generous sponsorship for the following local organisations:




Volunteer of the Year – Peoples’ Champion 
WINNER: Les Cockle – Great Oaks Hospice 

Highly Commended: Hannah McGowan (FOD Hosts of Ukrainians Support Group), Martin Elsmore (The Golden Triangle Club), Steve Gregory (FVAF / Walking with Wheels) and Mark Jones (Community First Responder SWASFT)


Community Voluntary Group of the Year 
WINNER: FOD Hosts of Ukrainians Support Group and Ukraine Community Hub

Highly Commended: Together We Can, Newnham Archery Club, Dean Radio, The Friends of Longhope Church and The Rewild Project 


Outstanding New Volunteer 

WINNER: Lisa Tootell – Girlguiding FOD South Division 

Highly Commended: Sarah Maxfield – Berry Hill Memorial Institute 


Young Volunteer of the Year 16yrs & under 

WINNER: Keira Stone – Together We Can 

Highly Commended: Toby Niblett – Lydney Youth Hub 

Young Volunteer of the Year 17 – 25yrs 

JOINT WINNERS: Jordan Terrell and Chloe Whatley – FOD Sea Cadets 


Community Impact Award 

WINNER: HIPs Social 

Highly Commended: Recycle Shop CIC Newent  and Wilde Earth Journeys 

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