A FAMILY-run funeral directors is the latest local business to throw their support behind our Forging a Future for All Awards.

Award-winning Gaunts of Wollaston will sponsor the Young Achiever category in this year's awards, which were launched by the Mayor of Dudley, Cllr David Stanley, last week to find the unsung heroes of Dudley borough.

Now in their second year, the awards are being organised by Newsquest - publishers of the Halesowen & Dudley News and Stourbridge News - along with Dudley Metropolitan Borough and aim to shine a light on the special individuals and groups whose sterling work makes this the best place to live and work.

There are 13 categories in total: Improving the Local Environment (individual); Improving the Local Environment (group/organisation); Outstanding Contribution to Education; Young Achiever; Community; Healthy and Safe Communities; Travel Support; Rising Apprentice Star of the Year; Business of the Year; Visitor Attraction Volunteer of the Year; Visitor Attraction Lifetime Achievement; Town Centre Unsung Hero/es of the Year and Digital Innovation Award.

The Gaunt family have been established funeral directors since 1900 and have four funeral homes - the main one in Blackheath where the business was first established, Stephen M Godber Funerals Ltd in Smethwick, Black Country Funeral Services, and Gaunts of Wollaston in High Street, Wollaston, which they purchased in 2018.

Gaunts of Wollaston is run by Jake Gaunt - the sixth generation of his family to help in the family business - and the company employs 20 full time staff to ensure that bereaved families receive the most personal care.

He explained why he chose to sponsor the Young Achiever category.

"We decided to sponsor the Young Achiever Award as we are a ‘young’ business in the Stourbridge area and my brother Sam and myself believe that your age shouldn’t prevent you from ambition," he said.

"We are both relatively young to be funeral directors and there is no better feeling than knowing you have helped a family through such a difficult time their life.

"There has been times where families have openly admitted they thought we were too young to competently arrange a funeral and have enough life experience to have the empathy needed.

"It is reassuring when families express their feedback and gratitude to the service we provided."

This year's Forging a Future for All awards will culminate in a glitzy black-tie dinner reception at the Copthorne Hotel in Merry Hill on Thursday, November 28.

Gaunts join several other local businesses and organisations in sponsoring this year's awards. They include Dudley College of Technology, Fairmont Residential, Dudley NHS Clinical Commissioning Group; Gaunts of Wollaston Funeral Directors; The Tipton & Coseley Building Society; Dudley Canal & Tunnel Trust; and Lapal House.

To get involved by either nominating someone for an award or to enquire about sponsorship visit www.dudleynews.co.uk/awards/forgingafuture.