What an Evening! The Diverse Cumbria Awards 2019.

It was 6.30pm on Friday 17th May when the doors opened to the stunning Mail Exchange at the Halston Hotel in Carlisle, the red carpet was laid and the bucks fizz was ready to welcome guests from all over the county. And so began the incredible evening of the 2019 Diverse Cumbria Awards.

Over 220 people networked, laughed, cried and cheered in what was to be an incredible evening that everyone will never forget. The atmosphere was kicked off in style as guests were handed a welcome drink and had their photos taken on the red carpet, which then lead into the beautiful events room at the Halston. Guests had a chance to network and catch up with those they have met previously but rarely get to see.

Julie Clayton, who works for the NHS, hosted the evening and started with a fantastic opening speech of togetherness, inclusion and respect, giving the message that although we may all have different beliefs, abilities, sexualities and genders, we are all human and standing together as minorities we are stronger.

And then came the emotional rollercoaster that was the Awards...

Guests were treated this year to short videos of all the shortlists in each category, giving them a chance to hear the amazing work that is going on in the county. Cheers and claps filled the room after each of the truly incredible stories told first hand by the shortlists were shown. After watching the videos for that category, all attention focused on the stage where the golden envelope was poised to be opened. The winner for that category was read aloud and the shocked faces of those that had won was a memorable sight, and luckily most were caught on camera. As the evening went on, as did the awards, a total of 6 categories and at the end a Lifetime Achievement Award was handed to someone who truly spent her life making sure others were treated as equals.

The winners for each category were:

Diversity Event of the Year - Kendal Unity Festival

Educational Champion - Jarek Jakubiak

Public Sector Champion - Ian Chappell - Cumbria Police

Volunteer Champion - The Cumbrian Refugee Volunteer Champions

Positive Role Model - Jonathan Elliott

Organisational Champion - Border City Roller Derby

Lifetime Achievement Award - Lou Townson

Special mention certificates were also given out to Terri Hargreaves, Wendy Askew & Tina Pettitt and St. Bridget’s Catholic Primary School.

A huge thanks must be given to the sponsors this year as without their support the evening would not be possible! Thanks to Sellafield for being the Lead Sponsor this year, to the NHS of Cumbira, ITV Border and The Police and Crime Commissioner for Cumbria, Peter McCall for sponsoring some of the Award Categories, and to Carlisle City Council and Reays Coaches for sponsoring the Event. Another big shout out to Platinum Sound and Lighting, Black FX and After 4 Productions for their amazing tech production on the evening and to the Halston Hotel for hosting us that evening and providing everyone with a welcome drink and some of the best food in town!

Ben Vollans, creator of the Awards had this to say: “Seeing everyone’s faces in the room that night just put the biggest smile on my face. Those people work tirelessly in pursuit of just making other’s lives equal in the county and this night was all about them! It truly makes the whole process worthwhile seeing the shocked faces of the winners and the joy in others to know they were simply recognised for the work they do.”

Planning for next year’s awards have already begun and rumour has it there are a couple more categories being added and a few more surprises on the night for everyone to enjoy. Ben said, “It’s the 5th year, so I’m going to have to make it an extra special one!”.