In a glittering ceremony at the Mercure Hotel in Hollingbourne on Thursday 21st September, charities from across Kent came together to celebrate the 8th Kent Charity Awards. Representatives from the amazing charity finalists and their volunteers and trustees travelled from all corners of our great County to be recognised, thanked and rewarded for their incredible work.
In a room full of incredible charities, Spadework, an Offham-based charity that enables people to be more independent, feel less isolated and live happier, healthier and more fulfilling lives fought of very stiff competition to be crowned the 2023 Kent Charity of the Year .
Spadework provide services to adults with learning and other disabilities, people experiencing problems with their mental health and those living with dementia.
As I look around the room there is more that unites us than divides us, but if we keep experiencing these devastating cuts then many of the fabulous charities in this room won’t be here next year. To councils and founders please support our charities, please help us to continue helping people to be more independent, feel less isolated and live healthier, happier and more fulfilling lives.”
The award organisers and judges were staggered and delighted by the volume and great diversity of charities who entered this year’s awards. The quality of entries from large and small organisations from all corners of the county gets higher each year, making the selection process a huge challenge for the judges.
Susan Robinson, Partner at Kreston Reeves and the KCAs Head Judge said of this year’s Awards: “The charity sector affects everyone either directly or indirectly where it plays a crucial role in underpinning the fabric of our society. A few bad apples can lead to a one size fits all approach. However, the reality is that the majority of the sector is doing incredible work, often under very difficult circumstances. Our charity awards are about recognising this work and in a small way being able to say thank you and well done. We look forward to an evening of celebration.”
Francis said, “Winning this award means so much for our work in the county and keeping Kent safe for our children and young people. It’s also important to recognise our founders and supporters who enable us to reach the thousands of children year-on-year. What an amazing Awards gala evening organised by Kent Charity Awards this evening. All worthy causes and everyone is a winner tonight.”
83-year-old Nora Setterfield from Thanet Disabled Riding Centre also received a Judges’ Special Recognition Award. Nora has faced many hurdles during the 50 years the Centre has been running, she almost had to close the centre just two years after opening, but after moving the site a couple of times she and her friend and co-founder Rowena Young found a plot of land in the grounds of Maurice House which is part of the British Legion, in Broadstairs. The charity continues take 48 disabled riders each week with lots more people on the waiting list. Nora has created a fantastic family-based centre where people get to ride horses and families get to sit in the tearoom and chat together, share concerns, seek advice and have fun.
The final special judges’ award was for a Special Project and We Are Beams were recognised for their incredible disabled garden project. We Are Beams undertook the project when they wanted to transform a rundown, shabby garden at their centre in Dartford and make it an accessible space for disabled children and young people.
More than £200,000 was raised from sponsored walks, half marathons, a corporate ‘buy a brick’ scheme plus donations from foundations and grants to complete this project. The new space is an enormous success and being enjoyed daily by the children that stay overnight in respite care, plus holiday clubs, special needs schools, general visitors and play groups.
Our charity finalists were rewarded for the work they do in the following categories: Animal and Environment, Best Use of Volunteers, Disability and Mental Health, Children’s, Care, Community, Large and of course our wonderful Trustees and Volunteers.
The Volunteer of the Year Award for a small charity went to Emma Thomas from The Hygiene Bank in Medway. Service users say of Emma that they are always blown away by the work she and her team do.
In the large charity category, the Volunteer of the Year was Bradley Russell, who sadly wasn’t able to attend the gala evening but his colleague Donna Evans collected his trophy on his behalf. Bradley is transforming lives by using his experience of being a service-user of Porchlight to now being a Peer Support Volunteer for the charity.
In a hotly contested category, our Trustee of the Year was awarded to Clive Reddihough from Hi-Kent whose colleagues said he “Could not be more supportive, encouraging and a visionary leader”. Clive said on winning his award, “I’m delighted to be winner of Trustee of the Year, very proud to be Chair of the Trustees for Hi Kent and of all the amazing work they do in helping the deaf and hard of hearing in Kent.”
The full list of our 2023 finalists and winners are as follows:
Peter Feacey from Ashford Volunteer Centre
Gareth Johns from Community Lifesavers
Demelza Hospice Care for Children
The event could only take place because of the support of its sponsors – Kent Charity Awards sponsors, for without their support these awards would not be possible; thank you Kreston Reeves, Kent County Council, Medway Council, The KM Media Group, CC Works, Kent Community Foundation, CAF Bank, AMEY, Brachers, Aplan Insurance, Financial Advice and Services.