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John Phillips

John Phillips of Ryde’s John’s Club has been named the Isle of Wight Radio and Wightfibre Overall Local Hero, revealed at the annual Local Heroes award ceremony at Cowes Yacht Haven on Thursday. 

John was among the volunteers, sportspeople, selfless members of our community and those who have overcome huge challenges to change lives on the Isle of Wight, announced by Isle of Wight Radio’s Paul Topping and Georgie Carter.

Bullied at school and having spent time in children’s homes, John Phillips has gone on to foster more than 80 children and support hundreds of people through the Ryde charity John’s Club.

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The Solent Youth Services-sponsored Inspirational Young Person award winner was the courageous and resilient Verity Baird. After a difficult childhood, Verity was fostered aged just 7. From being unable to read or write, Verity has transformed herself into an accomplished violinist and sailor. She has gained 3 A levels and a first-class honours degree in Fine Art. She has spoken at Parliament to children in care and is currently studying for a Masters degree. Verity is the first young person to have been in foster care to have studied at this level, across the whole of the Isle of Wight and Hampshire.

Isle of Wight Radio’s Best Neighbour Award (sponsored by Pittis) was won by Sandown’s Pauline Evans. She does everything and anything to help her neighbours, from their DIY to gardening. Pauline is described as a ‘truly amazing person’.

The Medina Food Service Emergency Services award was given to an extraordinary team of people, available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Supporting the police with their life-saving searches for missing children, and people with mental health issues, learning disabilities and dementia, Wight SAR gets no central funding and relies on grants and fundraising.

The Isle of Wight Tourism Ambassador award (sponsored by Beacon Magazine) celebrated Welcome To The Isle of Wight singer Derek Sandy. He captured the imagination of the British tv-viewing public – and the hearts of four celebrity judges – with his appearance on Britain’s Got Talent earlier this year.

Isle of Wight Radio’s Sporting Achievers (sponsored by 1Leisure) competed on the international stage at the Island Games in Gibraltar. They returned with 34 medals, including 11 gold. The Island Games Association’s Deputy Chair Kevin Winchcombe and medal winners Danny Burns, Charlie Metcalfe and Abi Lacey, collected the award on behalf of Team Isle of Wight.

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The Customer Service Award (sponsored by WRS Systems) has been won by the “most talented, kindest and hard-working” Vera Mircescu. She ensures people at Mountbatten enjoy their final meals, having created a bespoke ordering service – anything at any time. She has also transformed the customer experience in the Mountbatten café.

Kathryn Grimes has taken home the PC Consultants Fundraiser Award. In 2015, her husband Mark was diagnosed with a brain tumour. There was no support for someone in his situation, so she set up the Wight Brainy Bunch. Juggling her day job, four children and Mark’s ongoing health needs, the charity has already raised more than £100,000 for Isle of Wight families.

The IFPL-sponsored Inspirational Leader is beach soccer’s Luke Kerr, whose dedication brings Ryde beach alive in the summer.

From knitting hats and scarves, to volunteering at homeless centres, Dot Perrett is the deserving winner of the Making a Difference in the Community award (sponsored by Island Roads).

The Fidelity International Lifetime Achievement award has been handed to Liz Bell, who set up the Isle of Wight Asthma Swim Group, transforming lives for 35 years.

Isle of Wight Radio could not choose between 2 amazing Islanders – so both were handed a Volunteer Award (sponsored by Mountbatten). 86-year-old Jackie Ramage volunteers at St Mary’s Hospital cafe and Hugh Griffiths is involved in cricket and dedicates huge amounts of time to running and maintaining Newclose Cricket Ground.

The Carer award (sponsored by Charmes Care) was handed to the team behind Care in the Garden, who used their own money to set up a community group in Wootton, working with people who have a range of needs through gardening and fruit, veg and plant sales.

Claire John, Isle of Wight Radio’s Managing Director said:

“Our deserving and amazing Isle of Wight Radio Local Heroes are inspirational people who have transformed not only their own lives but those of Islanders too. We’re always inspired by their determination and dedication. They really do make the Isle of Wight the truly amazing community that we know and love.”

John Irvine, CEO of headline sponsor WightFibre, said:

“This is the sixth year Wightfibre have sponsored Isle of Wight Radio’s Local Heroes Awards. Local Heroes is all about recognising people who care and do something exceptional. WightFibre really care about our customers and we are delighted to join Isle of Wight Radio once again, to celebrate Island people, who also care and go the extra mile in their contribution to the community. It reflects our company ethos of ‘going the extra mile’ for our customers.”

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