Perrys Exceptional Awards 2017 winners announced.
After many months of anticipation, it was a real honour for us to host the Perrys Exceptional Awards ceremony in the wonderful surroundings of Kent's historic Leeds Castle.
We set up the Perrys Exceptional Awards to recognise the amazing efforts of unsung heroes across Kent. Now in their second year, we were once again humbled to hear the stories of some truly incredible charities, businesses and individuals who've gone the extra mile to make a difference in their communities.
Over 100 guests attended the black-tie event, which began with a drinks reception followed by a three-course banquet.
Among the guests were our 18 finalists, all of whom stood out from the many nominations we received in each Exceptional Awards category.
Throughout the evening there was laughter, and at times tears, as video clips detailing each finalist's inspiring story was showcased to the audience via a large screen.
The winners were announced as:
Perrys Exceptional Individual Winner – Carl Lewis, Tonbridge
Carl was nominated by his wife, Jenny Lewis, for taking such an active role in his local community. Jenny said: "Carl has generously given his time to help the community in so many ways. He helped to clear damage after the severe floods of Christmas 2013, and took over the role of Poppy Appeal coordinator. His hard work has helped to raise a record £34,000 for Tonbridge and its Poppy Appeal."
Commenting on his win, Carl said: "I wasn't expecting to win, I was expecting the award to go to one of my fellow finalists [Nikki Gough and Ruth Howard], but I was very pleased. To me the exceptional people are the ones who went through the floods and the people who benefit from the work and the money from the British Legion. This will spur me on to do even more for the area and the town."
Perrys Exceptional Charity Winner – More Than Words, Tonbridge
More Than Words is a small charity that was established in 2015, to provide free Makaton sign language training to anyone in the Kent community who cares for a child with communication difficulties. Since opening, the charity has given vital training to over 600 parents and carers across Kent, as well as operating support groups and organising inclusive events.
Paul and Hannah Hughes, who set up the charity, said: "We feel amazing. We couldn't believe it when our name was called out as we were up against an incredible group of charities. Winning this award will really help More Than Words to spread awareness and reach out to other families who haven't heard of us and need our help."
Perrys Exceptional Business – Fudge Kitchen, Canterbury
Fudge Kitchen is a well-loved fixture on Sun Street, selling exceptional fudge in a range of innovative flavours along with fudge-related gifts, including a make-at-home kit and wedding favours. Fudge Kitchen also provides fun fudge-making sessions onsite with their friendly experts.
Patch Hyde from Fudge Kitchen, said: "It was so humbling to receive this award and be in the company of such amazing people who have such tenacity to do all these things they do. When they called our name we felt very silly. We are silly boys that make fudge and give fudge to people. We try to be kind and give everyone the time of day when they visit our shop, so to have an award for that seems a bit silly, but it is gratefully received."
Perrys Exceptional Business Community Initiative – Green Farm Kent, near Ashford
Maryann and Martin Richmond-Coggan, who own Green Farm Kent – a luxury farmstay and spa - have set up the Pearce-Coggan Foundation. The foundation's policies extend across enhanced health, education and wellbeing through the provision of holidays, retreats and courses for children, young people and adults, especially those who are disadvantaged.
Maryann and Martin said: "The other nominees are all extraordinary so we feel really honoured and genuinely shocked to have won. Winning this award will really help us to ensure we are known to the people who need us. The event has been a great opportunity to connect with charities and look at ways we can work with them in the future."
Our CEO Stewart Pope said: "Nowadays, when it seems so many people are living their lives online, it's heart-warming to find that there are still many individuals who want to get out and about and be fully involved with those around them. Through their dedication and commitment, our winners have made a significant impact by helping to positively change lives. They are truly exceptional and inspiring."
Pop over to our Facebook page to see pictures from the awards night, including snaps of all our wonderful winners.
Article written by Donna McCreadie