High flying volunteers recognised at Norwood awards

14 September 2016

Over 200 Norwood staff and volunteers gathered at the RAF Museum in Hendon last night, for Norwood’s Volunteer Recognition Awards 2016.

The prestigious annual awards celebrate and recognise the huge contribution that volunteers make to Norwood – the UK’s largest Jewish children’s, family, and learning disability charity.

Norwood has over 1,500 volunteers – doubling the charity’s workforce. They do everything; from driving minibuses or manning the tills in Norwood’s charity shops, to fundraising, and befriending and mentoring families in need of support.

Speaking after the event, Norwood’s Joint President, Lady Nicola Mendelsohn CBE, said: "Norwood is blessed to have a volunteer force 1,500 strong and growing. They make a vital contribution to the professional support of our children, adults, and families. Each and every one of our volunteers has a profoundly positive impact on the life of the organisation."

Norwood’s Unsung Heroes Award was jointly awarded to the volunteers at the Twins Group and the Rainbow Group at the Kennedy Leigh Family Centre in Hendon. The 14 volunteers work alongside play specialists, providing a stimulating environment for children with special educational needs and disabilities, and support for families with twins and triplets. The volunteers are Bernice Silverman, Caryll Rose, Catherine Weinstein, David Kalev, Erica Moss, Esther Davila, Hillary Mann, Jennie Fisher, Lesley Rose, Lindsey Gershinson, Tony Plaskow, Rachel Cass,and Victoria Schulman.

Norwood Chief Executive, Elaine Kerr, said: "The volunteers work tirelessly to provide a stimulating environment for the children, and these groups simply could not run without their help."

Volunteer Champion Award was presented to Mark Pollack, Norwood Trustee and Fundraising Chair. Mark’s involvement with Norwood spans nearly 20 years, in which time he’s undertaken 18 international cycle challenges, two marathons, and one trek to Iceland, all to raise funds for the charity. He is part of Norwood’s International Challenges Committee and recruits participants for UK and international challenges. Mark has also been Chair of the committees for some of Norwood’s largest fundraising events, including the Norwood Property Lunch.

The Community Award was awarded to the JCoSS Pears Special Resource Provision (PSRP) for students with autism, in recognition of the support that both the PSRP staff and, more importantly, their students have given to Norwood. The students have participated in all sorts of activities, such as organising resources for the Kennedy Leigh Family Centre, card making, toy cleaning, and gardening.

The Corporate Partnership Award was presented to BP by Ashley Sweetland MBE. Since BP began its programme of corporate volunteering over four years ago, more than 150 volunteers have given 1,275 hours to Norwood, volunteering at Ravenswood – Norwood’s group of residential care homes for people with learning disabilities, in Crowthorne, Berkshire.

Ashley said: "Over the last four years, BP has become a true friend of Norwood – Ravenswood in particular. Their endless enthusiasm and commitment has helped transform many parts of our residential accommodation in Berkshire."

The Young People’s Award was jointly awarded to Hope Baker and volunteers at Unity, Norwood’s recreational service for children and young people with disabilities. It was presented by last year’s winner, Orli West.

Nineteen year-old Hope volunteered in Norwood’s fundraising team last year. She proved herself to be an outstanding volunteer, throwing herself into everything – from administration to working at the charity’s fundraising events.

She shares the award with the young people who volunteer at Unity.

Rachael Davis-Stollar said: "All of the Unity volunteers are aged between 16 and 25 years, and without their commitment and drive the service would not be able to provide the peer support to the children, young adults and families that Norwood supports."

The Lady J Award was presented to the Ravenswood Synagogue volunteers, by Shoshana Turner and Esther Pearlman – daughters of the late Lady J. Every Shabbat, three volunteers – David Green, Laurence Smith, and Jonathan Kramer – make the round trip from London to Norwood’s residential care homes in Ravenswood, Berkshire, to lead the residents’ Shabbat service.

Shoshana Turner said: "These volunteers allow the residents to spiritually engage with Shabbat through a specialised service; making it fun, easy to follow, and something they want to come back to every week. Without David, Laurence, and Jonathan taking time from their personal lives to journey to Ravenswood and run these each week, residents would be without this Jewish experience."

The Queen’s 90th Outstanding Contribution Award was jointly awarded to Leni Kariel, who volunteers at Norwood’s Edgware charity shop, and the volunteers who open the post every morning at the charity’s head office. It was presented by Lady Hazel Cosgrove CBE.

Lady Cosgrove CBE said: "Leni Kariel is an incredible 93 years old and has volunteered in the Norwood shop for over 20 years, providing a welcoming environment and fantastic customer service. She is a remarkable lady"

The post-opening volunteers were the joint recipients of the award.

Lady Cosgrove CBE said: "They arrive at 8am every morning, in all weathers. Their role involves deep knowledge of the organisation, knowledge of our events, and excellent numerical skills. It is not something that can be learnt quickly. They are integral to the efficient running of the organisation"

The Fundraising Ambassador Award winners were the Ladies Lunch Committee, made up of Sharon Adler, Hilary Brass, Jacqui Gittelmon, Katherine Isaacs, Jo Rosenthal, Julia Sherrard, and Rina Steinberg. Their tireless efforts have seen the Ladies Lunch become a key event in Norwood’s fundraising calendar, attracting over 200 guests each year and – last year – raising £50,000.

Doreen Lewis was invited onto the stage with the ladies, in recognition of her vital contribution working with both the Ladies Lunch Committee and Norwood’s fundraising department.

This year, the final award – The Norwood Special Commendation Award – was presented to Umer Kayani and Nicky Haugh, by Lady Nicola Mendelsohn CBE.

Umer and Nicky attend the Pears Special Resource Provision (PSRP) facility at JCoSS, and have been volunteering with Norwood since September 2015.

Lady Mendelsohn said: "They have embraced all tasks set for them – from gardening projects, to working in our shops and volunteering in our head office. Umer’s self-confidence has soared through his interaction with Norwood staff and volunteers. And Nicky has shown true initiative in completing tasks and developing his own fundraising ideas. Over the last year, Norwood’s service managers, staff, volunteering team, and all who have worked with these young men, have had the pleasure of seeing them mature and become far more socially confident."

You can see more photos from the evening here.