Community Group of the Year – Barnet Panthers

The Barnet Panthers football club brings together girls and young women from all backgrounds in a safe, friendly, supportive, and fun environment and gives them the platform to express themselves in a male dominated sport. The coaches, and especially their lead, Billy Grant, volunteer their time passionately to ensure equal opportunities are provided to all involved, both in football and in the other activities and days out provided by the club.

Billy who started the club two years ago, came along to the event with 21-year-old Zara, one of the club’s ten coaches, they beamed with delight as the Barnet Panthers were announced winners of the Community Group of the Year. Billy said, “We weren’t expecting to win tonight, so it’s a real honour. Our club is not only about football and girls being on the pitch, but we want to make girls grow within themselves. For us to be able to do that has been a real honour, so I’m really appreciative to be acknowledged.”

Zara added, “I want to say to young girls in Barnet, just join us, it will change your life and you’ll love it! Our age group categories are Under 13s, under 15s, and 10-11 year olds. We want to give every girl an opportunity to play, we’re not elitist.”

Good neighbour – Jenny Pymont

With 19 nominations, the winner of this year’s Good Neighbour Award is energetic 84-year-old Jenny Pymont.

Every day Jenny visits her neighbours to make sure that the elderly and infirm living in her sheltered housing scheme get help with their shopping, prescriptions, or anything else they may need. She is always singing or whistling, and just makes people smile.

On receiving her award Jenny fought back the tears and said, “Before my husband passed away, I promised him that I wouldn’t get down and depressed and that I’d continue to try to make people happy. With the love of my neighbours and friends like Anne and Gwen who’re here with me tonight, I’ve carried on, and I always try to make people smile and laugh. Thank you so much. This award makes me feel like a movie star!”

Image 2 Seated left to right, friends Gwen and Anne Flynn, and fellow Good Neighbour nominee Paul Smith. Standing, left to right, Carole Blackwood with Good Neighbour nominee Khalid Hassanyeh and winner Jenny Pymont.

Volunteer of the Year (under 25) – Olivia Da Cruz

Olivia is a sixth form student and was nominated for this award because she has repeatedly demonstrated her selflessness for her community within different settings. Olivia is kind-hearted, humorous and motivated. She has volunteered to assist with teaching subjects such as P.E to children in younger years at school, completed work experience with FUSE Youth Project, and guided youth work sessions for young people, as well as completed a junior leadership program with FUSE.

When asked what made Olivia start volunteering, she replied, “I was inspired to volunteer after we had a school visit and talk from a member of the FUSE community group that works in my local Stonegrove Estate. Now I like to volunteer at every event I can in Stonegrove. I like working with young people as I can relate to them and their issues and I find it easy to communicate with them.”