Dedicated volunteers from across the district have been recognised at a special awards ceremony.

Run by Braintree Council and Community360, the Braintree District Volunteer Awards recognise the extraordinary efforts individuals and groups have made towards improving the lives of others in the area.

More than 90 nominations were received, with seven gongs being presented to the winners and prizes being given to those commended at a glitzy ceremony last Thursday.

Speaking at the event, Frankie Ricci, deputy councillor responsible for health and communities, said: “The Volunteer Awards are a fantastic opportunity to recognise ordinary people achieving extraordinary things and making a difference to people’s lives across the district.

“Huge congratulations to all the winners and highly commended and thank you for dedicating your time, skills and care day in and day out to help others.”

The Inspirational Role Model award went to Witham community hero Tina Townsend.

Mrs Townsend is the town’s Neighbourhood Watch Co-ordinator, a trustee of charity for teens battling cancer Beat It Box, a restorative justice and hate crime ambassador for Essex Police and still finds time to run a successful business and chair Witham Chamber of Commerce.

She said: "Thank you to those who nominated me, I’m very proud and very humbled to have won.

"Volunteering is not about awards it’s about giving back to the community and making a difference, I hope more will see how worthwhile it can be."

For an incredible 40 years service to the village of Sturmer, Jo Porth, picked up both the Volunteer of the Year Award and Long Service Award.

Over the years, Mrs Porth has held many roles in the community, including village hall committee member, leader of the cub scouts, member of the flood action group and the village’s tree warden.

Lyons Hall Primary School pupil and Braintree resident Mégane Sykes Bimsenstein won the Junior Volunteer award for giving up her spare time to visit residents of Millard House Care Home, Bocking.

The Group Volunteer Award went to Witham Town Luncheon Club where volunteers run a coffee morning and lunch club three days a week in the town, whilst also fundraising to subsidise the cost of the food.

The organisation’s dedicated volunteers help members with things like shopping and preparing meals, and also become friends and confidants to vulnerable members of the community.

Tania George picked up the Going the Extra Mile gong for her leading role with Black Notley Community Association, which manages an outdoor swimming pool and hall - a vital facility for the community.

Last but not least, Rebecca Chivers picked up the Young Volunteer Award for her work with First Stop Centre.

She has spent more than two years supporting learners with mental health issues or learning difficulties - despite having to travel by bus from Colchester.

Tracy Rudling, CEO of Community360, said: “Congratulations must go to all of those who were nominated this evening as well as a huge thank you to all volunteers throughout the district for the outstanding work that they do.”