Voluntary group triumphs at Kent Charity Awards

… and the Kent Charity Award winners are?

At a glittering Gala Dinner in Rochester on Thursday 19th March, the winners of the first Kent Charity Awards were revealed. Kent Search and Rescue, the voluntary organisation that offers a valuable service assisting in the search for missing persons across the county was crowned Kent Charity of the Year 2015!

The awards were made up of 6 categories with three finalists in each. The results were as follows:

Heritage & Environment

Computers 4 Africa – winner
Medway Queen Preservation Society
Gillingham Local Roots


Kent Search & Rescue – winner
Kent Marrow
Stride 4 Life


Large Breed Dog Rescue – winner
Happy Endings Animal Rescue
Lord Whisky Sanctuary Fund


Abigail’s Footsteps – winner
Strode Park Foundation
Sevenoaks Area Mind


chYps Children’s Hospice at Home – winner
Oasis Domestic Abuse
Holding on Letting Go


Catching Lives – winners
Kent Foundation for Young Entrepreneurs
Switch Youth Café

This inaugural Kent Charity Awards recognised and celebrated the unsung heroes of Kent who work tirelessly to make the lives of others better. Almost 160 entries were received from charities and voluntary groups both large and small and from all corners of the county.  The judges had a tough time narrowing it down to just 18 finalists who all attended the lavish event hosted by BBC South East TV’s Rob Smith.

Ed Franklin from Kent Search and Rescue said of the Awards, “Everyone at Kent Search & Rescue is extremely proud to be awarded the title of Kent Charity of the Year 2015. Congratulations to all the fantastic charities involved – you are also winners. We are very grateful to the organisers and sponsors for a wonderful evening and expect the KCA to go from strength to strength.”

The event could only take place because of the support of its sponsors – Furley Page, The KM Media Group, Kent Reliance, Medway Council, MidKent College, Kent County Council, Kreston Reeves , Southern Water and Diggerland.

Sponsor comments:

Mike Hill, Cabinet Member for Community Services at Kent County Council – “I was delighted to support the Kent Charity Awards Dinner.  It was an enjoyable evening and a fantastic showcase for many charities across the county”.

Ian Carter, The KM Media Group – ‘KM Group was delighted to support the first Kent Charity Awards. We were amazed by the response, and it was fantastic to see so many deserving winners recognised on the night.’

Susan Robinson, Partner and Head of Charities and Not for Profit at Kreston Reeves commented – “Kreston Reeves were proud and honoured to sponsor the inaugural Kent Charity Awards last night and congratulate all the finalists and winners!

It was a wonderful evening and a great opportunity to thank, recognise and help raise profile of these hardworking and dedicated people and charities in Kent.

A special congratulations to Kent Search and Rescue who were announced as the overall winners, a very well deserved accolade”.

Robert Gurr, Kent Reliance – “Congratulations to Kent Search and Rescue as overall winner and all the finalists whose invaluable hard work and dedication to improving the lives of others was showcased in a wonderful evening.  It was both a privilege to help support this inaugural event and a humbling experience to involved.”

Cllr Howard Doe, Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder for Community Services – “The Kent Charity Awards is a wonderful event that recognises the hard work of groups and individuals who go the extra mile to improve the lives of others. I would like to congratulate all 18 finalists, and in particular the five finalists from Medway, which included The Medway Queen Preservation Society and Gillingham Local Roots. The event at the Corn Exchange was very well attended and it was great to see special local people being commended for their work.

Aaron Spencer, a Partner at law firm Furley Page. Aaron specialises in charity law and is a member of the Charity Law Association – “The Kent Charity Awards have been a great success this year and we are delighted to have sponsored an initiative which celebrates the unsung heroes of society.”

“It made perfect sense for us to do our bit to support the awards because of the incredibly close ties linking our firm to the charity sector. We have worked with a range of charities for many years and we have a real insight into how they work and what they do. Their work often brings far-reaching positive benefits for so many people in our communities.”

Furley Page provides a range of specialist services to charities, including on the formation of charities, Charity Commission applications and annual returns, advice on structures such as Charitable Incorporated Organisations, charitable companies, charitable trusts, unincorporated associations and Community Interest Trusts.

Diggerland Kent – “Diggerland had a fantastic night at the Kent Charity Awards 2015. We thoroughly enjoyed sharing a terrific evening with some extremely worthy and hard-working charities. Everyone was a winner yesterday evening, all of the finalists truly deserved to be a part of this incredible brand new award. Rise Communications always put on a good show and have done a brilliant job bringing everything together. Well done to all the sponsors, organisers, finalists and the winners!”

MidKent College – “Many congratulations to all the finalists but especially to the well-deserved overall winner Kent Search and Rescue.

As a sponsor of the inaugural Kent Charity Awards we are proud to recognise the phenomenal work that our local charities undertake for the benefit of our communities.

Many undertake thankless tasks that really make the difference to people and as a provider of education and training, we recognise just how crucial every small step is towards improving the future prospects of people”

Entries for the 2016 will open in early Summer and can be made through the Kent Charity Awards website www.kentcharityawards.com . The Awards will be held in a different area of Kent next year and venues are currently being looked at.

See all the amazing pictures from the Gala Night here