LEADING lights who inspire and support their communities are set to be recognised for the first time.
The Healthworks Recognition Awards will champion those who have played a pivotal role in helping the people of Easington Colliery.
A dozen categories were drawn up to thank people across the age spectrum for their dedication.
Those up for an award include fathers who have supported the Healthworks Centre and pensioners who are using IT to improve their lives.
Father-of-three Richard Wilkinson, 36, from Peterlee, joined the centre’s gym as a member of its male carers group.
He said: “All the family has noticed the difference. Healthworks really has changed my way of life.”
Richard Fortune, also a dad-of-three, has improved his health by quitting smoking and has become an advocate for the sessions which help people give up the habit.
The 36-year-old said: “I went along to one of the drop-in sessions and straight away it was better than I had thought. They made you feel at ease. I wasn’t made to feel alienated because I was a smoker, which I found in the past.”
Silver surfers Una and Walter Shankland, from South Hetton, discovered a new lease of life after taking up places on its computer courses.
Una, 68, was shown how to keep in touch with loved ones via email, while Walter, 79, uses the internet to research art techniques.
Walter said: “Not having a computer at home, we wouldn’t be able to do all this without Healthworks.”
Volunteers Julie Devon and Pat Baxter have also gained new skills and made new friends.
Julie, a single mum to two girls, found she could follow her dream to study again after discovering the centre runs Open University courses when she signed up as a volunteer.
The 38-year-old said: “I really would like to get a degree out of the study. I’d tried before and it hadn’t worked out, but now with support of Healthworks I’m enjoying it more and have learnt to manage my time to be able to fit it into family life as well.”
Pat, from Easington Village, helps out with a variety of activities and said: “I just enjoy everything about it.
“I like meeting people and enjoy being with people.”
Judging of the awards will be held in coming days, with the ceremony held at the Glebe Centre in Murton on January 17.
Healthworks is run by County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation in partnership with Northumbrian Water and Durham County Council.