West Norfolk's caring heroes hailed

Businesses and individuals who have gone the extra mile to help disabled people have had their efforts marked in a special awards ceremony in west Norfolk.

Businesses and individuals who have gone the extra mile to help disabled people have had their efforts marked in a special awards ceremony in west Norfolk.

The 18th annual Opportunity Awards recognise and reward outstanding contributions that have helped disabled people.

Among the winners this year were the Norfolk Arena, two cafés and a teenager who has dedicated her time to helping young carers.

The awards night is organised by West Norfolk Council's Advisory Committee for People with Disabil-ities and each recipient is presented with a certificate and cheque.

Councillor David Harwood, who is chairman of the committee, said: “The scheme was initiated by the Advisory Committee for People with Disabilities in 1989 and seeks to recognise and reward outstanding contributions, including innovation, imagination and commitment, which have enabled people with a disability to lead an ordinary life.”

He added: “It is important to remember that disabled people do not seek special treatment, just to be seen for themselves and not stereotyped or labelled.

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“All winners are aware of the needs of disabled people and do their best to provide it without making people feel like a nuisance.

“The strength of nominations this year was particularly impressive.

“Everyone receiving an award should be strongly applauded for their continued efforts and awareness of the issues faced by disabled people every day and for their desire to make a difference.”

Six awards were presented at the ceremony which was held at the council offices in King's Lynn, on Tuesday night. The winners were nominated by local disabled people and then a judging panel, from members of the committee, decided on the deserving winner.

Awards went to Michael Beckett, of the Gaywood Clock Café, who has made an extra special effort to ensure his premises are usable by disabled people, and Akif Kaya, of the Silver Spoon Café in Norfolk Street, who has also put the needs of disabled people at the top of his priority list.

The Leisure and Public Space Department of West Norfolk Council received an award for its work in changing the route of the Great East Anglian Run, to ensure wheelchair entries could take part as well.

The race was a huge success, with British Paralympics' Champion Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson taking part. She praised the organisers.

Two individuals received awards for their efforts in helping young carers in King's Lynn. These were Paul Randerson, pastor of the King's Lynn Christian Fellowship, and Poppy Bunting, 15, of Lynn.

Mr Harwood said of Poppy: “She should be an inspiration to us all. She has shown determination in her quest to raise the profile of the problems encountered by young carers in our area and, given her young age, makes this extra special.”

There was an award, too, for Buster Chapman, co-promoter of the King's Lynn Stars Speedway Team at the Norfolk Arena, for its efforts in making the stadium easier to use for disabled people.

Mr Chapman, said: “We were very, very surprised; it is a fantastic award for us. We just try to do our best and to receive this is very rewarding, it's really nice.”

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