Blue skies and sunshine greeted guests at The Visitor’s ninth annual Sunshine Ball and Awards on Friday night.
A record 154 people gathered at the Midland Hotel, Morecambe, to see local heroes recognised.
A fantastic £1,422 was also raised for our charity this year, Team Reece, set up by brave schoolboy Reece Holt from Overton who has terminal cancer, and his mum Rachel O’Neil.
Both Reece and his mum were at the ball. Rachel said Team Reece were excited to announce they would be part funding a project with Alder Hey Children’s Hospital and Liverpool University to offer a new less dangerous way of scanning for children’s tumours.
Charity was a recurring theme throughout the evening with this year’s Charity Fundraiser Award going to the Peru Trek team, a group of 45 people who undertook an arduous trek in Peru which raised more than £200,00 for St John’s Hospice, Lancaster.
Team member Gary Butler, who has been fundraising for the hospice for the last 20 years, was there on the night to accept the award.
“It was just fantastic and a privilege to be able to do something like that for the hospice,” he said.
“In here tonight there’s so many people raising money for so many great charities.”
This year’s Ambassador Award went to designer and TV celebrity Wayne Hemingway MBE, who was born in Morecambe, for his Vintage-by-the-Sea festival event.
Spearheaded by Wayne, Morecambe’s annual vintage festival is now one of the most popular free events in the north of England bringing in tens of thousand of visitors and pounds for the local economy.
Wayne was due to attend the ball but unfortunately had to pull out at the last minute due to a family emergency.Another man who has devoted years to Morecambe’s festivals programme was recognised on the night for his contribution.
DJ and promoter Steve Middlesbrough said he was dedicating his Entertainment Award to everybody in the festival community.
“I honestly think that Morecambe is blessed with some of the best event producers in the country,” said Steve.
“If we put our heads together, we can end up being the festival capital of the north west if not of the north. Thank you very much, I’m very proud and very surprised because everyone else deserves it as well.”
A family business operating in Morecambe for 162 years also paid tribute to the town as well as its staff when it scooped the Business Award.
“What makes us special is the people of Morecambe, our staff and our team,” said James Altham from Althams Butchers.
Bru Wood from The Palatine was proud to accept the Bar/Restaurant Award while another Morecambe institution came out on top in the Community Group category.
Accepting the award, More Music founder Pete Moser, who is retiring from the community music organisation this year, said: “We have been working in Morecambe for 25 years making a difference to people’s lives and working not just in the West End but to make Morecambe a great place for everynody who lives here and who visits.”
Jordan Halpin from Unique Kidz and Co, who won the Health Hero Award, said: “This is for all the adults and children who we support.
“A massive shout out too to the two co-founders, Jane and Denise, who are just two local mums who set this all up on their own.”
“A very, very nice surprise,” said Paul Kay, winner of the Unsung Hero category, jokingly adding: “Who ever thought that a street sweeper would win?”
Sophie Fish, who set up Morecambe Ladies Football Club 15 years ago, was a popular winner of the Sport Award.
Sophie thanked everyone and paid tribute to the massive team behind her.
Lancaster Royal Grammmar School student Callum Bell was delighted to receive the Student of the Year accolade.
Callum goes above and beyond for his school including taking martial arts classes duri ng games because he has a black belt in karate. What makes his efforts all the more remarkable is that Callum only has one eye.
Young Achiever Award winner Rory Holmes was unable to attend on the night.
Rory, 12, is trying to help children with cerebral palsy who need Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy surgery after he had the operation last summer to give him more control over his legs.
Earlier last year Rory’s Rhizotomy Riff Challenge saw musicians record their favourite music riff and post it to social media.
The campaign raised more than £16,000 for Rory to have his operation.
Roll of honour
AmbassadorAward, sponsored by Wright & Lord solicitors: Wayne Hemingway.
Business Award, sponsored by Arndale Morecambe Bay: Althams Butchers. Runner-up: Miogelato.
Entertainment Award, sponsored by The Greyhound, Halton: Steve Middlesbrough. Runners-up: Morecambe Carnival Committee and A Splendid Day Out.
Sport Award, sponsored by 3-1-5 X Force: Sophie Fish. Runner-up: Sarah Cheyette.
Bar/Restaurant Award, sponsored by Cross Bay Brewing Co: The Palatine. Runners-up: Little Bare and Morecambe Hotel.
Student of the Year Award, sponsored by Lancaster Royal Grammar School: Callum Bell. Runner-up: Megan Williams.
Charity Fundraiser Award, sponsored by Hodgson’s Chippy: Peru Trek team. Runners-up: Out in the Bay – Robert Mee; Stuart Michaels.
Health Hero Award, sponsored by Holywell Care Group: Unique Kidz & Co. Runners-up: Catherine Butterworth; Maggie Thorne and Anne Craig.
Community Group Award, sponsored by Seatruck: More Music. Runners-up: Stanley’s Youth Centre and Morecambe Heritage Centre .
Unsung Hero Award, sponsored by Specsavers: Paul Kay. Runners-up: Brian Turner and Pauline Evans.
Young Achiever Award, sponsored by Lancaster & Morecambe College: Rory Holmes. Runner-up: Cameron Redpath .