Sunderland Fans Museum founder remembers feeling of Best of Wearside Awards win - and issues call for nominations

SAFC Museum founder Michael Ganley has been formally handed the keys
SAFC Museum founder Michael Ganley has been formally handed the keys

An award-winning Sunderland campaigner has reflected on a fantastic night when he and his team picked up honours.

And as he looked back on last year’s Best of Wearside Awards win, Michael Ganley urged Echo readers to enter this year’s competition.

Michael Ganley (3rd from left) and his Fans Museum team, at last year's awards.

Michael Ganley (3rd from left) and his Fans Museum team, at last year's awards.

He praised the contest which aims to reward heroes of the community and said there was “nothing quite like it.”

Michael’s own win came because of his work to build up a priceless collection of Sunderland AFC memorabilia, and then to take it on show to the people of the North East.

It now has its own permanent base - again thanks to the campaigning work of Michael and his team.

But he believes that the Best of Wearside Awards win has helped to raise the profile of the work even further.

We found out that, not only had we been nominated, we had won something which was a huge shock. People have seen the award and appreciate what we do. We have had a great deal of response to the win.

Michael Ganley

Reflecting on the awards night, Michael said: “We were very proud to be invited to any event that supports anything, especially in relation to the community.

“We found out that, not only had we been nominated, we had won something which was a huge shock.

“People have seen the award and appreciate what we do. We have had a great deal of response to the win.

“It is lovely. We feel that it has been very positive.”

The work has continued ever since the win. Michael has now formally taken over at the former Monkwearmouth Station Museum building, which will house his extensive collection of football memorabilia.

It will be the fans’ museum’s first permanent home after it put on temporary displays in Hendon, The Bridges and the City Library since 2014.

Michael said: “We have moved on a great deal since the awards night. The response in the last 12 months has been so good but there is a lot ahead as well and we look forward to 2018.”

He urged others to enter this year’s awards and said: “There is nothing else like it and that is how it should be.

“The Echo are the traditional founders of putting news out there and supporting the Sunderland Echo is what we are about.”

Now comes your chance to nominate your own favourites for the 2018 competition, sponsored by partner backers Gentoo and category sponsors Calsonic Kansei.

It doesn’t matter how many nominations you put in. Flood us with loads of them if you want.

There are 10 great categories covering everything from a student who has excelled to a Local Hero who has gone to extraordinary lengths to help others.

Take a look at the list of categories and the criteria below, and decide which best suits your cause.

And then simply follow the instructions on how to enter.

Entries should be sent by the deadline of Wednesday, February 28.

After that, judges will meet to draw up a shortlist before the grand finals is held at the Stadium of Light on Thursday, March 15.

The categories:

Local Hero.

Green Champion.

Student of the Year.

Fundraiser of the Year.

Volunteer of the Year.

Sporting Achievement.

Community Group.

Community Champion.

Child of Achievement.

Child of Courage.

How to enter:

To nominate, just send your name, address and telephone number, as well as your email address, if applicable. Remember to include the category you are putting your nominated cause into.

Also send the name of the person you wish to nominate, along with their address, telephone number and email (if known).

Send all of that to Lynn Wild by no later than February 28.

Email those entries to lynn.wild@jpress.co.uk or send them to Lynn Wild, Alexander House, Second Floor, Rainton Bridge Business Park, Houghton-le-Spring, Sunderland. DH4 5RA.