DEDICATED volunteers, community champions and inspirational businesses from across the borough have been recognised for the roles they are playing in helping to forge a future for all.

A host of hard-working individuals and groups working to make the borough a better place have picked up awards at the inaugural Forging a Future For All Awards – organised by the Dudley, Stourbridge and Halesowen News in partnership with Dudley Council.

The awards have helped to launch a brand new vision for the Dudley borough which was unveiled by community leaders earlier in the year – setting out aspirations for the kind of place Dudley wants to be in 2030.

Each award category recognises different aspirations of the vision and how individuals and organisations have been playing their part to help make Dudley an attractive, vibrant, healthy and safe place to live and visit.

Councillor Judy Foster, deputy leader of Dudley Council, said: “The awards have been the perfect way for us to bring the vision to life by identifying people and organisations in the community who are already doing great work to forge a future for all.”

The worthy winners of the awards were announced at a gala dinner event at The Copthorne Hotel in Brierley Hill this evening (Tuesday November 27).

Dudley business leader and charity fundraiser Mohammed Sagir, who runs Direct Link Communication in Wolverhampton Street, was named winner of the Town Ambassador Award for his work to promote Dudley town.

Green-fingered Bob Aston won the Improving the Local Environment Award for his work with the Friends of Hurst Green Park where he is fondly known as head gardener – having dedicated the last 18 months to sprucing up the park.

While the Friends of Buffery Park picked up the group award in the Improving the Local Environment category for their long-running efforts and fundraising endeavours which have helped to transform Dudley’s Buffery Park into a gem for the community.

Maths tutor Andy Kenny, who teaches at the Dudley Wood Neighbourhood Learning Centre, was recognised for his Outstanding Contribution to Education – having taken up teaching adult learners after a lifetime working in the financial sector.

The Young Achiever Award went to teenager Robyn Churchill who opened dance studio The Jewels Academy in Dudley with her friend after managing to complete her A-levels despite battling an eating disorder and coping with her father’s unexpected death.

Gornal and Sedgley People’s Archive was awarded the Community Award for its Reminiscence Café project to combat loneliness and isolation among older people while also recording their memories to build a People’s Archive at Dudley Archives.

Family-run firm Merry Hill Private Hire scooped the Transportation Award for its work transporting children with special educational needs and learning difficulties to school from home – helping to ease the worry for families unable to transport their little ones themselves.

Community Information Champions scheme, run by Dudley HealthWatch, won the Better Connect Award for its innovative approach to sharing vital information with the community through an army of information champions and information points.

Dudley Council’s Green Care Horticultural Team picked up the Apprentice Focus Award.

Green-fingered Ellie Jones, Jack Grosvenor, James Guest, Simon Cooper and William Pearson, all aged between 18 and 21, were not afraid to get their hands dirty and soon proved their worth as part of Dudley’s Green Care team based in Priory Park.

The Business of the Year Award went to Kingswinford based cleaning firm The Dust Fairies, which was started singlehandedly by mum-of-two Hayley Stringer who over five years has grown the business into an 18-strong team.

Dudley Canal and Tunnel Trust towpath volunteer Ron Hurley was named winner of the Visitor Attraction Volunteer of the Year Award for having dedicated more than 1,000 hours to the charity since 2015 – helping visitors to enjoy the waterways and discover more about the local heritage.

Dudley Zoo’s long-serving Derek Grove was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his devotion to the top borough tourist attraction over 36 years during which he has risen from trainee keeper in the early 1980s to the top post of zoo director.

Stephanie Preece, editor of Dudley, Stourbridge and Halesowen News, said: "It has been a fantastic evening and a wonderful reflection of the great work being done across the borough.

"As the publisher of the Dudley, Stourbridge and Halesowen News, we hoped that by helping to set up these awards we would shine a light on the many people who work tirelessly to improve life in Dudley borough. I think that we have certainly achieved that.

“Huge congratulations go to all of the finalists but especially the winners who should be very proud of their achievements.”

As well as Dudley Council - the awards have been sponsored by a host of borough businesses including Dudley College and Fieldings Auctioneers, Motorline and Fairmont Residential.