Oct 31 2012 By David Baker
Kavita Shah is handed her award for Health and Wellbeing Volunteer of the Year by Harrow Council corporate director Paul Najsarek (pic credit: Harpreet Castleton)
THE borough’s most inspirational and selfless volunteers packed out a community hall yesterday (Tuesday) as their tireless work was celebrated at the Harrow’s Heroes Awards.
The Observer, a partner of the Harrow Council-run annual awards, has been highlighting the work of some of the nominees in the lead up to the ceremony, which was held at Harrow Arts Centre, Uxbridge Road, Hatch End.
Every single one of the 60 or so volunteers put forward for the six categories were handed certificates for their efforts, while a winner from each section was selected by a panel of judges and handed a cheque of £100 for their selected charity, courtesy of sponsors the Rotary Club of Stanmore and Edgware.
Kavita Shah won Health and Wellbeing Volunteer of the Year for her hard work as an unpaid nutritionist within the 16 Children’s Centres in Harrow. She has also set up and delivered a range of courses to help people better understand the importance of healthy eating.
She said: “I had no idea I had even been nominated until I got the invite and didn’t know that Harrow’s Heroes existed. I think the whole idea is amazing and a great way to show support and thanks for volunteers. It was fantastic to be a part of it and inspiring to see so many people doing something for the community.”
The Trustee/Committee Member of the Year went to Emma Senitt who, along with her family, was instrumental in establishing the Alan Senitt Trust, which runs education and training opportunities for future community leaders and was set up following the death of her brother, Alan, who was murdered in Washington DC in 2006 while defending a friend.
Seventeen-year-old Mala Mawkin, who invests her time caring for a girl with cerebral palsy and recently launched a project called ‘A million lives for a million pounds’ raising as much money to provide vaccinations in poverty stricken countries, scooped Young Volunteer of the Year.
Elizabeth Lewis was crowned Community Volunteer of the Year for her 16 years as a volunteer with Home Start Harrow.
International Volunteer of the Year went to Anand Vyas, an optometrist who provides his services for free all over Asia and Africa, while Martin Verden won the Environmental Volunteer of the Year award for his long-standing work with Harrow Heritage Trust, Harrow Nature conservation Forum, Pinner Association and the West House and Heath Robinson Trusts.
Overall Volunteer of the Year went to Joan Penrose, a tireless campaigner for improvements in the mental health sector.
For more than ten years, she has petitioned Confidence for Life, a course and ethos offering a way of treating severely mentally ill individuals. She also runs a weekly group providing a safe place for service users to meet, socialise and actively participate in community life.
Among those on the judging panel this year was last year’s Environmental Volunteer of the Year and Overall Volunteer of the Year winner, Eugene Callinan, who said: “It was great to come back an be involved with it again and really humbling to be on the other side of the fence hearing about all the incredible things that so many people in Harrow do.
“It is such a great night for everyone to be involved in and the incredibly high calibre of all the nominees show just how much effort is being put in by volunteers in the borough.”
* Harrow Heroes was organised by Harrow Council with the help of Rotary Club of Stanmore and Edgware, Harold Benjamin Solicitors, Harrow Observer and Keepmoat