The great and good of Watford have been rewarded for their dedication to making the town a fantastic place to live at Watford Borough Council’s annual Audentior Awards.
The winners – announced at a ceremony in the Watford Colosseum on Friday – were recognised for going the extra mile to help inspire and enrich the wider community. Elected Mayor of Watford, Baroness Dorothy Thornhill and Council Chairman Cllr Jagtar Singh Dhindsa were at the event to congratulate the winners and celebrate with a packed audience of community representatives.
Actar Dinata, winner of the Mayor’s Award, was recognised for her outstanding contribution to the town and charitable causes over the last 30 years. She is a mentor for Year 12 of Parmiter's School, Garston, and this year helped her Dragons’ Apprentice Challenge team raise a record-breaking £12,000 for disability charity DEMAND.
Mrs Dinata runs two charities in memory of her daughter Emma, who died in 2000 while still a sixth-former at Parmiter’s. Mrs Dinata is also a fundraiser for Refugees in Recovery, a member of Watford Rotary Club and a key-player in Citizens UK – which encourages social justice throughout the country.
She said: “I felt really thrilled to be appreciated by the kind people who gave me this Audentior Award – which they did not need to do. I do this for my own satisfaction because charity work is very close to my heart. I am always happy to do something to help my community and my people.”
Ranjit Kaur Ahluwalia, winner of the Chairman’s Award for Volunteer of the Year, helped fund and launch Watford’s Sri Guru Singh Sabha Gurdwara in 1984. She later led a successful £250,000 fundraising campaign to pay for repairs at the Gurdwara.
This year Mrs Ahluwalia – a Punjabi and religious studies teacher for more than 40 years – raised £11,000 to fund an ambulance for Prabh Aasra. She has also ‘adopted’ four children for the charity – which supports the orphaned, disabled and destitute in the Punjab region – paying for their clothes, education and upbringing. Mrs Ahluwalia is an active supporter of Watford’s interfaith pilgrimages and of the Starlight Walks for Peace Hospice Care.
She said: “I have been doing charity work all my life, but the other people at the Audentior Awards inspired me to do even more. It was eye-opening, I really enjoyed it. We are so fortunate. There are so many unprivileged people who need our help and it’s nice to be doing things for them.”
The ceremony was also Dorothy Thornhill’s last before she steps down from her role as Elected Mayor next May. A short film featured past winners reflecting on what being recognised had meant for them and how being part of the Watford community had shaped their lives. She was presented with a bouquet of flowers and received a special mention at the end of the Audentior Awards.
Dorothy Thornhill, commenting on the winners, said: “It’s important that people are recognised for their outstanding contribution to the town. They should be proud to have won an Audentior Award, and be proud of Watford.”
Elected Mayor Dorothy Thornhill with Watford Borough Council Managing Director Manny Lewis
Cllr Jagtar Singh Dhindsa said: “These volunteers do excellent work for the people of Watford. They do it out of the goodness of their hearts, and it’s great that we can give something back to them through Audentior.”
The sponsors of this year’s Audentior Awards were Warner Brothers Studios Leavesden, Everyone Active, Watford FC, Watford FC Community Sports & Education (CSE) Trust, intu Watford, HQ Theatres and Veolia. The Watford Observer acted as a media partner for the event.
The Audentior Awards also raised £1, 700 for the Chairman’s charities, Watford Foodbank and Watford Mencap – which will be distributed evenly between the two of them.
The winners and runners-up were:
- Mayor’s Award (winner): Actar Dinata.
- Mayor’s Award (runner-up): Helen Nicell, who organises the Watford Writers’ Group and sits on the Watford Area Arts Forum Committee, celebrating life through her fantastic writing.
- Chairman’s Award for Volunteer of the Year (winner): Ranjit Kaur Ahluwalia.
- Chairman’s Award for Volunteer of the Year (runner-up): Ruth Connolly, whose 22 years of leading Watford Woodcraft Folk has given youngsters the opportunity to challenge themselves in the great outdoors.
- Charitable Group (winner): Watford Polish School, which looks after 320 children and young people, helping them celebrate their Polish origins.
- Charitable Business (winner): M K Ginder & Sons, who support local charities important to their staff – encouraging charity fundraising golf days, bike rides to Brighton, abseils and more.
- Lewington Price Disability Access (winner): Everett Rovers, an all-inclusive football club that has served Watford’s young people for the last two years.
- Mayor’s Sporting Achievement Award (individual winner): Thomas Lish, 17, whose judo medal haul was topped off by winning England’s first Gold in this year’s Commonwealth Games.
- Mayor’s Sporting Achievement Award (group winner): Watford Cycle Hub, who organise Go Ride races and other events to keep our town active.
- Special Achievement Award (winner): Watford Women’s Centre – for nearly 30 years of providing a safe, respectful, non-judgemental and dynamic space for women to change their lives.
- Special Achievement Award (runner-up): Mohammed Younis, a retired Watford postman who raised £100,000 to open a hospital in one of the poorest parts of Pakistan.