THE district’s top volunteers and unsung heroes have been recognised for their hard work and dedication during a special ceremony.

This year’s Braintree District Volunteer Awards saw a record 104 nominations made and the introduction of new categories to ensure young people were also recognised for their achievements.

Nominations ranged from individuals and groups keeping the district clean and tidy, to organising and leading local clubs, activities and events, raising money for charities, helping the elderly and running community centres.

During the ceremony, which was jointly hosted by Braintree Council and Community 360, Dorothy Lodge was crowned the overall Volunteer of the Year, as well as the Inspirational Role Model.

Ms Lodge volunteers for a number of clubs and organisations, including the Christ Church Lunch Club, Craft Club and Braintree Area Foodbank and sells plants to raise money for a day care centre in Halstead.

The Young Person Inspirational Role Model award went to Daniel Walker, seven, who spends most weekends litter picking in Great Notley every weekend. The youngster has also raised more than £1,000 for Farleigh Hospice in memory of his grandmother and was described as a “true local hero” in his community.

The Volunteer Group of the Year prize went to six members of Witham’s Big Sing Soul, who have raised more than £2,100 in the past six months for schools and a care home in the town.

Braintree councillor and communities, tourism and culture boss Frankie Ricci said: “Our volunteers are the true unsung heroes of the district and hearing their stories and the pride they have for what they do is truly inspiring.

“These awards are important so we can say thank you to them for their dedication and support towards great causes and services that make a difference to people’s lives.

“A huge congratulations to all our winners and highly commended, and also to our sponsors for helping make the awards happen.”

Other winners on the night included Girl Guiding volunteer Margaret Surrey, Great Notley parkrun helper Haydn Hawkins and Rayne Boxing Club trainer Jack Deer.