FEARLESS fundraisers, community champions and those who have gone above and beyond were the toast of the town today as the winners of this year’s Pride of Swindon Awards were announced.

Hosted at Steam museum, 10 individuals were celebrated for giving Swindon a reason to be proud of itself.

RunVEMBER champion Alan Butler was honoured for his efforts to unite and inspire runners of all abilities to raise money for Threshold Housing Link. The annual event has swelled in support, with 296 taking part last year, as well as organising a sleep-out. His nominator said: “He carries out so much good work within the local area, ask any runner of ‘Alan Butler’ and they will have their own tale of this inspiring, inspirational, unassuming man that we are all so proud to know.”

Clare Stowe was named as an award winner for her tireless work for charities and community groups over many years, despite suffering from chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia endometriosis. She plays an active role in the Swindon Down’s Syndrome group, at least two local churches, and was instrumental in setting up a community café and fought for support and funding for Living Options a group for vulnerable people.

Putting in nine years of service to Christmas Care Shelter as catering manager has seen Noreen Vitale presented with an award. The title comes ahead of her own visit to a Buckingham Palace garden party this year.

Described as a “true friend” to all of her neighbours in Walcot for the last 30 years Caroline Watson was also honoured, after a member of the community highlighted her efforts to carry out housework, shopping and even DIY for her friends in need. “Caroline really would give away her last penny to help another and the clothes off her back. She is the most selfless person I have ever met. No matter what is going on in her own life, or how hard things are, Caroline always puts those around her first and always has time for them.”

More than 36 years of service to Wiltshire Wildlife Trust saw Lakeside resident Kathleen Wyatt honoured for inspiring the next generation of conservationists. with the trust estimating her to have put in more than 9,000 hours of her own time.

Joan White’s 55 years with Pinehurst Netball Club – first as a player, and now as a coach saw her receive an award. Judges were impressed with her extensive fundraising activities.

Helping people understand the complex world of benefits saw Roy Dowling also take an award for his work with Swindon Carer’s Centre as a benefits advisor. with those he has assisted singing his praises for helping them secure the correct benefits for their needs.

Inspirational Oscar Moulding was also named as a winner, but unable to attend the ceremony, Deputy Mayor of Swindon Maureen Penny paid a visit to Robert Le Kyng Primary School on Friday to present the nine-year-old with his award. Oscar inspired his fellow-classmates to help him fundraise to send his old wheelchair to Bosnia for his friend Sophija, who - like him – lives with muscular dystrophy.

The former divisional commander of Swindon’s firefighters John Popowicz was named a Pride of Swindon winner after putting in more than three decades-of service until his retirement last year. The judges also heard how he had called on his fundraising skills to buy a number of outdoor table tennis tables in memory of son Sean who died last year at the age of 35.

The judges presented a very special award in memory of Kevin Logan who lost his battle with cancer last year. In his final months he campaigned for greater testing of prostate cancer, leading to scores of men in Swindon undergoing the tests.

And inspirational dance school owner Pat Bennett also took an award for putting in 60 years of service at the self-founded Estelle School of Dance, despite being overlooked by the English National Ballet for being too short.

In addition to the individual winners, there were also six groups who were named as the Pride Of Swindon.

Jaqueline Collins and Colin Crook were honoured for their services to conservation and wildlife after the judges learned they had been installing bird nest boxes in parks around the town for almost 20 years.

Community champions the Penhill Street Reps were also honoured for their work with the Penhill neighbourhood to foster a sense of community.

The Swindon Lagoons Volunteer Group’s efforts to conserve the habitat of the lagoons and Rivermead saw them also receive an award after the judges heard that wildlife was booming in these environments.

Refugee champions The Harbour Project also saw themselves honoured for all of the work they have carried out to welcome refugees arriving in the town ever since the 2000 Kosovo conflict.

Prime Theatre – formerly Sixth Sense - received high praise for 30 years of helping youngsters find their feet on the stage, including from  Helen Swanson, the headteacher of Drove Primary School.

She said: “Prime Theatre, its team, productions and projects have been transforming Swindon for decades. 

“Through my years in several schools I have witnessed Prime/Sixth Sense bring joy and skills to generations, especially children who are hard to reach or engage.”

The Witness Service team of volunteers at Swindon Crown Court were acknowledged for their support to witnesses as they face the nerve-racking experience of facing the court room, even carrying out pre-trial visits to prepare individuals for the event.