Winner of the Heart Awards revealed as Hull’s remarkable unsung heroes are celebrated

A mum-of-three who set up a vital charity to help families in crisis has won the Heart of East Yorkshire Awards.

Claire Raper launched Bundles of Joy where she collects children’s clothes and baby supplies before donating it to those who need it most, including families in crisis and poverty and those fleeing domestic abuse.

Claire won the Charity Champion Award category at the Hull Daily Mail’s Heart of East Yorkshire Awards in a glittering ceremony at the KC Stadium last night, before being crowned the overall winner.

The selfless mum never expected to win an award – let alone two. Helping others comes naturally to her and it is normal to put the needs of others before her own every day.

After being named the winner, Claire said: “I was asked if I had an acceptance speech and I said I wouldn’t need one of those.

“I’m completely overwhelmed to have won, there are so many people in this room who are just as deserving.

“It’s not about me, it’s about the people who donate to the charity, those who support me, it’s all about them as well. This isn’t my award, this is a charity award.

“It was an idea that I had, everyone has these unwanted items and there’s a lot that we can do with these things to pass them on and that’s exactly how it’s evolved in under a year.

“I shouldn’t be needed, but I am needed, this charity is needed.

“It I can get a load of toys, a cot, a pram, a pushchair, it just makes such a difference to a family.”

At the ceremony it was difficult to guess who had been selected to take the eight category awards home because there were so many courageous, selfless and inspiring individuals sat among the 200 guests.

The awards are now in their fifth year and exist to celebrate the region’s unsung heroes – those who give a little extra and sacrifice a little more, all for the good of others.

Among the finalists were lifesavers, charity workers, courageous children and inspirational youngsters.

All guests were all there to hear each others’ stories and celebrate the good within East Yorkshire.

The judges chose Mrs Raper as the overall winner because they felt her contribution had the biggest impact on the most people.

They said: “Claire does not have to do this, her own children are all at school, and she could put her feet up.
“Instead she spends hours working, for no reward and what she does has such a big impact on the people who need it most.

“Her charity seems totally original and is extremely worthy of winning and could be rolled out nationwide.”

The Child of Courage Award kicked off what was a truly memorable night. The finalists included Daniel Carter, Ava and Louie Elbourne and Joshua Southcoat.

For the first time the judges were unable to choose one overall winner and named all three children as winners.

Next up, Sargent Electrical Services was named as the winner of the Business in the Community Award with judges saying this company makes a real difference and has a significant impact on the community.

In the Inspiring Youngster category it was caring and selfless Ebony Leigh and Elis Jay Chapman who were invited to the stage to collect their award which recognises the kindness they show to their younger brother Layton.

Layton has quadriplegic cerebral palsy and epilepsy. His brother and sister help feed and change him and play with him.

Next up, mum-of-five Leanne Tomlinson was named the Parent of the Year because not only is she dealing with five children, two with complex needs, but she also somehow manages to find the time to do lot of charity work to help others.

After Claire Raper received the Charity Champion award, it was the turn of Ben Crawford, Richard Gaukroger and Steve Thirsk – the three binmen who helped stop a car-jacking in Hedon to win the Public Service Award because their actions brought a terrifying situation to an end.

Ray Butler was then named the Community Sports winner because he has dedicated his life to helping generations of young rugby players. The judges believe so many people will have been inspired by him.

The last category award of the evening was the Local Hero Award which was won by Ebrima Touray who put himself in danger with little thought for himself in a fast-moving situation when a knife-man entered a mosque.

Jenna Thompson, digital editor at the Hull Daily Mail, said: “Many of these people have been highlighted in the pages of the Hull Daily Mail already.

“Yes, we also have to include the mugshots and the crimes – but what brings us real joy is to feature the kind of stories which come to us through the nominations of these awards.

“The children who are facing unimaginable pain with a cheeky grin, the everyday people who risk their safety to tackle dangerous criminals, and those who quietly give up their free time to volunteer for charity. – these are the ones these awards celebrate.”

The winners of this years event are…

Public Sector Award

Hedon binmen Ben Crawford, Richard Gaukroger and Steve Thirsk

Community Sports Award

Ray Butler

Charity Champion Award

Claire Raper

Business in the Community Award

Sergent Electrical

Parent/Guardian of the Year Award

Leanne Tomlinson

Child of Courage Award

Daniel Carter, Ava and Louie Elbourne and Joshua Southcoat

Inspiring Youngster Award

Ebony Leigh and Elis Jay Chapman

Local Hero Award

Ebrima Touray

Heart of East Yorkshire Award