Unsung heroes enjoy their evening in the spotlight


Some of British Jewry's most dedicated volunteers were recognised at a national awards ceremony on Monday night.

In front of the 260 guests at the Wohl Jewish Volunteering Network awards at Finchley Synagogue, the JC People's Choice award was presented to Kisharon volunteer Peter Lewinson.

Mr Lewinson tutors adults with learning disabilities at Kisharon's Hendon day centre and set up a gardening project at its Tuffkid Nursery in Golders Green. The prize also includes £500 towards Kisharon's work.

"I didn't expect to win - I am speechless. I am so happy, but happier still for Kisharon," Mr Lewinson said.

JC readers nominated volunteers for the award and voted online for the winner from a shortlist chosen by JC editor Stephen Pollard and JVN.

The youngest award winner was 14-year-old Gift volunteer Noah Rubin, who launched a shoe recycling project, Step-Up, as a barmitzvah initiative. Since its launch in 2013, more than 5,000 pairs of shoes have been collected from schools, communities and shops for distribution to those in need.

A lifetime achievement award went to Wizo's Marilyn Podro, who has been volunteering for more than 50 years. "If I do something to help somebody every day of my life then I feel I have really achieved something," she said.

Samantha Brunner, 25 - who runs an annual summer camp in Belarus and organises fundraising events for community building charity The Together Plan - took the prize for young adults.

"I was very surprised, but honoured and humbled as well. I was really pleased to be recognised in a formal capacity."

Other individual and group winners were Gill Cashdan, Walter Felman, Karen Goodkind, Steve Miller, Helen Sarkany, Nick Trapp, NLP Financial Management, the Northwood and Pinner Liberal Synagogue care team and the Jewish Salford Healthy Communities collaborative team.

It was also announced that Colin Stodel was the latest winner of David Cameron's Points of Light Award for his efforts in recruiting volunteers through JVN. In the citation, Mr Cameron said: "Colin has not just given hundreds of hours of his own time to supporting causes he believes in. By helping other people to find volunteering opportunities they are passionate about, he has delivered thousands of hours of volunteering to a huge range of causes."

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