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In pictures: 'Big-hearted' volunteers honoured at Voluntary Sector Awards

David Lee

The tireless work of an 86-year-old man has been recognised at the 2018 Voluntary Sector Awards.

Ray Allen picked up the volunteer of the year prize during a ceremony, organised by WAM Get Involved, at Maidenhead Town Hall yesterday.

The pensioner was nominated for his voluntary work with the Maidenhead Thames Rotary Club where he has helped out at events including the Santa Grotto and Maidenhead at the Movies.

Ray also spends two days a week listening to children read at schools across the borough.

Fellow Rotary member Helal Stephan said: “He is an exceptionally talented and caring person that I believe deserves full recognition.

“He is humble in that he does not seek recognition and just has a big heart to help others.”

Teenager Chesna Mitra was named young volunteer of the year in recognition of her work supporting youngsters at the Maidenhead-based disability sports club, SportsAble.

Family Friends Windsor and Maidenhead scooped the charity of the year prize with community group Stitch finishing second alongside the Windsor and Maidenhead Community Forum (WAMCF).

Stitch funds and make washable sanitary products for disadvantaged girls while WAMCF aims to build respect and trust between different faith groups in the borough.

Volunteers at The Food Academy, run by Thames Valley Police, won the Volunteer Team of the Year prize ahead of the Windsor and Maidenhead Police Cadets and Family Friends.

Ramesh Kukar, chief officer of WAM Get Involved, said: “We are very lucky in the Royal Borough, with around 5,000 people volunteering every week.

“That’s about £21million worth of services a year to help the community.

“It’s truly inspirational to meet these volunteers, to thank them and to celebrate that great spirit of community involvement.”

Alison Alexander, the council’s managing director, added: “I am always so impressed with the army of volunteers and the support services who assist them in their valuable work across the borough, year in year out.”

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