VOLUNTEERS were rewarded for their 'tireless' efforts to improve lives across the county.

Charities and Good Samaritans were celebrated at this year's Oxfordshire Community and Voluntary Action (OCVA) Awards, which recognise remarkable people and causes.

More than 300 people dressed up for a swanky awards ceremony at Oxford Town Hall earlier this month, where the High Sheriff of Oxfordshire Jane Cranston handed out the first set of certificates and medals.

East Oxford United under 12s chairman and head coach Hassan Sabrie won the award for 'volunteer of the year', following his fundraising efforts to take some of the team to training camp in Russia.

Judges said Mr Sabrie and his colleagues 'worked tirelessly to develop the club and inspire those facing inequality and disadvantage to participate'.

The club operates a pay what you can policy, so players from poorer families do not miss out.

A further three were hailed winners in other volunteer categories, with several runners-up also given special mention for standing out among the 43 shortlisted entrants.

Oxfordshire's favourite fearless grandmother Trish Wagstaff, 84, was given the special certificate for commitment to community fundraising.

The Appleton resident has swam with sharks, jumped out of a plane and zoomed along a zipwire to raise cash for charity, and this time was celebrated for her work with a cappella group Harmony InSpires.

OCVA runs the awards annually as part of its mission to advise and support a wide network of voluntary organisations in Oxfordshire.

The second part of the event focused the county's best charities, with 10 awards presented by sponsors alongside the Vice Lord-Lieutenant of Oxfordshire, John Harwood.

Psychology behaviour support charity One-Eighty, based off Botley Road in Oxford, won the coveted title of 'charity of the year'.

Judges were impressed with the service's success in helping vulnerable children and young people to behave better.

The charity's development and office manager Rebekah Sammut said: "The award is an amazing achievement and recognition for the whole team and the hard work everyone puts in.

"We hope it underlines the importance of addressing mental health and challenging behaviour in young people and families."

One-Eighty uses behavioural support to engage with hundreds of children every year, many of whom are in care, have mental health difficulties or have a close family member in jail.

Oxford loneliness charity The Archway Foundation was awarded the lifetime achievement award.

Another eight charities from across the county were named winners during the ceremony on May 9.

Kathy Shaw, OCVA's chief executive, said: "The commitment and enthusiasm of the award winners was overwhelming. Oxfordshire is so fortunate to have so many unselfish and talented people. Well done everyone."


- Volunteers -

Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust's young volunteer of the year: Ollie Pentz of Lady Nuffield Home (runners up: Ahd Hassan and Sophia Lomulo)

Oxfordshire Community Foundation's special certificate for commitment to community fundraising: Trish Wagstaff of Harmony InSpires

Oxfordshire Community Foundation's long service award: Irene Andrews of Sobell House

Oxfordshire Community Foundation's volunteer of the year: Hassan Sabrie, East Oxford United football club (runner up: Michelle Lawful, Oxfordshire Association for the Blind)

- Charities -

Collaborent's best community project: Sandford Talking Shop

Hunts' best team of volunteers: Oxford Homeless Pathways

OxLEP's innovation award: Handy Voices Signing Choir

Jennings/Monument Community Trust's best new group: Incredible Edible Hook Norton

Clark Howes' lifetime achievement award: The Archway Foundation

Oxford Bus Company's environmental award: Sharecroppers at Charlbury Green Hub

Oxford Brookes University's management of volunteers: The Hummingbird Cancer Support and Therapy Centre

Ami's good neighbour award: Bicester Good Neighbour Scheme

Heyford Park's management working together: Thrive's Leys Youth Programme

Oxfordshire County Council's charity of the year award: One-Eighty