The most outstanding local heroes from across Sefton were celebrated in style at the 2023 Pride Of Sefton Awards.
The glittering evening at The Grand in Southport was all about recognising everyone shortlisted for the huge impact they have made on the lives of other people in Southport, Bootle, Formby, Crosby, Maghull, and across the borough.
The main Pride Of Sefton Award was won by Kath Wilson, who founded Southport Lifeboat following the tragic death of her son Geoffrey Clements in 1987.
For the past 35 years she has been raising money in a variety of ways, not least through the Southport Lifeboat charity shop which she runs on Everton Road in Birkdale.
Last year her fundraising efforts culminated in the opening of the brand new Southport Lifeboat base on Marine Drive in Southport in a £1.4 million scheme.
Speaking at the Pride Of Sefton Awards, Kath Wilson said:
“I wanted the intention that no-one would lose their life in Southport seeing as we didn’t have a lifeboat here.
“I must be honest – it’s not down to me, it’s down to everybody in Southport.
“The lifeboat belongs to Southport.
“The volunteers, the crew, everybody involved is absolutely wonderful. Thank you all.
“They do so through determination but not only that, when they go out on a call, they are leaving behind their families, their wives, their children, to go out and rescue other people.”
Also shortlisted for the main Pride Of Sefton Award was Dr Karen Groves MBE, who founded Queenscourt Hospice 30 years ago. She recently announced her retirement as the Medical and Education Director, as the Dr Karen Groves Legacy Development Fund in her honour.
David and Ann Cobham recently celebrated their 80th birthdays but can still be found, on most days and in most weather, maintaining the Botanic Gardens in Churchtown. They have led a team of volunteers there for the past 13 years, planting many thousands of flowers, keeping the park spotless for families to enjoy, and organising regular community events.
The Lifetime Achievement Award honoured the incredible work of Southport residents Sir Kenny Dalglish and Marina Dalglish.
The Marina Dalglish Appeal has raised over £13 million to improve the lives of people fighting cancer and continues to campaign for women to “get checked”.
It was set up by the Dalglish family in 2005 ‘to do something to help’ after Marina was successfully treated for breast cancer in 2003.
Sir Kenny Dalglish MBE has supported wife Marina with her fundraising and cancer awareness campaigns.
Liverpool FC’s greatest ever player, he was Manager of Liverpool FC when the Hillsborough Tragedy took place, and despite the huge toll it took on him personally, he and his family gave huge support to players and supporters affected.
The Pride Of Sefton Awards were organised by Mikhail Hotel and Leisure Group and by Stand Up For Southport, with support from In Demand Radio.
VIP guests included Mayor of Sefton Cllr Clare Carragher, while the night was hosted by In Demand Radio presenter Claire Simmo and TV presenter Fraser Dainton.
Mayor of Sefton, Cllr Clare Carrgaher, said:
“I am immensely proud.
“The people of Sefton are some of the most amazing, inspirational, courageous, and selfless people that I have ever met.
“During my two years as Mayor I have given awards out for various reasons but your contributions tonight never cease to amaze me.
“Sefton you are without doubt the most amazing people on the planet so thank you.
“I feel it is right to say thank you to all the sponsors this evening. You don’t realise that without your sponsorship these events can’t happen.”
Entertainment was provided by Kelly Bond and Soul Jam.
Money was raised for the Steve Prescott Foundation and the ICU Steps charity, a cause close to Mikhail Hotel and Leisure Group Chairman Andrew Mikhail after his long battle in intensive care in hospital against Covid-19 during the pandemic.
He said: “It was a very humbling evening to be surrounded by so many special people doing extraordinary things in our community. Their stories were truly inspiring.
“Everybody there on the night was a winner. We wanted to be able to celebrate everybody who came, and to say thank you for everything that they do.
“We were also delighted to be able to raise money for two superb charities.
“I would like to say thank you to all our sponsors for making this event possible.”
Stand Up For Southport owner Andrew Brown said: “We were overwhelmed with the number of entries we received this year, with over 1,200 nominations.
“We are very grateful to everyone who took the time to nominate. As you can imagine, judging, which was carried out by a panel of judges, was an incredibly difficult process.
“This has been a real celebration of some very selfless, determined, humble people who go the extra mile every day to make Sefton such a special and unique place.”
This 2023 Pride Of Sefton winners and finalists are:
1 – Main Award – Pride of Sefton (sponsored by The Grand)
The night’s premier award will salute a person or organisation who judges believe has made a truly inspiring or outstanding contribution to Sefton over the past two years.
Kath Wilson, Southport Lifeboat – Winner
David and Ann Cobham, Botanic Gardens Community Association – Finalist
Dr Karen Groves MBE, Queenscourt Hospice – Finalist
2 – Diversity and Inclusion Award (sponsored by Sefton Council)
Sefton is a truly welcoming borough. We’d love to hear about those who have gone out of their way to promote diversity and inclusion within our area.
Debbie-Lyn Connolly-Lloyd – Winner
Arden Cafe – Finalist
Rebecca Woods, St Nicholas Primary School – Finalist
3 – Sefton Arts Award (sponsored by Fitton Estates)
Sefton wants to shout loud and proud about those who have achieved remarkable things in the world of stage, screen, and music. We want to hear about bright young things and those who have made it to the very top.
Lee Mack – Winner
Hilda Blomley – Finalist
Mark Thompson – Finalist
4 – Charity Champion Award (sponsored by Communication Plus)
Charities local and nationally survive and thrive on the cash raised by big-hearted fundraisers. And they have really needed it in these tough times. We don’t just want to hear who has raised the most, but how they have done it, what difference has it made and why it has inspired you.
Simon Davies – Winner
John Curd – Finalist
Kevin Dunne – Finalist
5 – Child of Courage Award (sponsored by Southport Pleasureland)
We are searching for nominees who have shown immense courage in the face of adversity. Courage comes in different shapes – is it a child who has battled illness, performed an act of bravery or done something truly remarkable while up against the odds?
Jessica Dowle – Winner
Theo Graham – Winner
6 – Courage Award (sponsored by Lloyds Bank)
Many tales of the heroism, courage or bravery of people from Sefton go untold – and we’d like to change that. Nominees could have performed a dramatic rescue or maybe they’ve overcome illness or injury to record inspiring achievements.
Josh Cropper – Winner
David Jessop, Naomi Williams and Leanne Szabo, Birkdale Primary School – Finalist
Adele Roberts – Finalist
7 – Unsung Hero Award (sponsored by Exceptional Care & Think Tank Academy)
Tell us about the person who makes a huge difference to our borough’s communities, organisations or teams but who rarely gets a spot in the limelight.
Dave Smith – Winner
Ken Rouse – Finalist
Juliet Weston – Finalist
8 – Community Impact Award (sponsored by Forth Homes)
Which person or organisation has had the biggest positive impact on their community? How have they made Sefton a better place or helped people? Have they used their heart as well as their business head to serve their area?
Sean’s Place – Winner
Jonathan Cunningham – Finalist
Sefton Baby Baskets – Finalist
9 – Sportsperson of the Year (sponsored by Westcoast Workwear and Embroidery)
Whose achievements in the sporting arena have been the brightest over the past two years?
We want nominations from all sporting fields – from amateurs to professionals, and from coaches to players.
Mia Smith – Winner
Alex Rigby – Finalist
Southport RFC Ladies Team – Finalist
10 – Young Sportsperson of the Year (sponsored by DT Hughes)
Which of Sefton’s sporting juniors have recorded the biggest achievement? In a borough with so much talent we would expect a deluge of entries. Tell us who stands out? (Nominees must not have reached their 19th birthday by 1st March.)
Isabella Dixon – Winner
Emily Blackhurst – Finalist
Luis Wright – Finalist
11 – Business In The Community Award (sponsored by In Demand Radio)
Businesses play a vital role in making our communities better for all. We’d like to celebrate all those who have made a real difference.
Big Comedy / Southport Comedy Festival – Winner
Babyballet Southport, Formby & Crosby – Finalist
Nobody Left Behind – Finalist
12 – School Of The Year Award (sponsored by Southport College)
Schools are brilliant at getting involved in local issues. But which ones have gone further to really improve the world around them? We’d love to honour those that have.
Marshside Primary School – Winner
Maricourt Catholic High School – Finalist
St John’s Crossens C of E Primary School – Finalist
13 – Lifetime Achievement / Special Recognition Award (sponsored by Birkdale Kitchen Co.)
Sir Kenny and Marina Dalglish
This award recognises a person who has made an outstanding and lasting contribution to life in Sefton. There will be no shortlist for this title announced prior to this award – instead the judging panel will reflect on potential candidates during the process and the winner will be awarded on the night.