THE BEST and brightest of Wiltshire were recognised at the first-ever Wiltshire Community Pride Awards yesterday.

Marvellous and modest heroes from across the county were presented with awards in front of a cheering crowd of friends and family at the Swindon Marriott hotel.

Colleagues and loved ones had nominated people for each category, then judges had whittled them down to three finalists who were all invited on stage before the winners were announced.

Sponsored by Nationwide, the awards included Charity Champion, Environment, Good Samaritan, Courage, Carer, Volunteer, Lifesaver, Hero, and Lifetime Achievement.

David Rowlands, chair of trustees for the refugee and asylum seeker support charity the Harbour Project, received the Lifetime Achievement Award.

CEO Claire Carrett said: “The project has been around for 18 years and he’s been with us for 16 - it’s grown from three visitors a day to hundreds each week.

“It is his leadership and straightforwardness that has got us through this.

“He’s a very practical, hands-on chair of trustees and all the visitors love him.”

Youngster Harry Flynn, who has cerebral palsy and was born deaf, won the Achiever award for passing all his SATs at Red Oaks School and moving to mainstream education in Commonweal.

The 11-year-old from Abbey Meads said: “I have no words to describe it, I’m shocked, I didn’t think I’d get this far.”

His dad Paul said: “I’m really proud, he’s an amazing little boy.”

A raffle was held before the ceremony to raise money for the Wiltshire Community Fund, which gives out grants to deserving community projects.

Last year, the fund delivered £1.2 million in grants to 161 charities and 70 young people to help fund their education.

The awards were organised by Newsquest Wiltshire to celebrate those incredible people who make a huge difference to other people’s lives.

Adver editor Pete Gavan said: “It’s been fantastic to hear about all the amazing things people are doing in our communities across Wiltshire.

“And to be able to celebrate them at an event like this is even better. Congratulations to all the winners and finalists.

“You’re all a credit to your communities and we’re proud to be able to shine a light on what you do.”

A full supplement with reactions from all of the winners will be in Thursday’s Adver.