THE depth of volunteering in North Yorkshire was celebrated with the announcement of the winners of North Yorkshire County Council’s annual community awards - and there was some Craven success.

The awards, now in their fourth year, celebrate and showcase voluntary work by individuals and organisations that make their neighbourhoods better places to live and help the council to deliver critical services, such as providing social networks that reduce isolation and enable people to live independently for longer.

The judging panel, which included representatives from the County Council, volunteer organisations and young people, was again impressed by the quality of the nominees.

This year, there were 66 nominations for 64 groups and individuals

The winners were presented with their awards at the North Yorkshire Wider Partnership Conference at The Pavilions, Harrogate.

County Council Chair Councillor Robert Windass said: “Each year we continue to be hugely impressed by the standard of the nominees. So many people of all ages and backgrounds right across North Yorkshire generously give their time and skills to help others, making a big contribution to the people’s lives.

“The standard of the entries made it very difficult to choose winners. All the finalists, and indeed all the nominees, deserve our gratitude and admiration. Without the tens of thousands of hours given by so many volunteers, life for so many people would be much poorer.”

The winner of each category receives £1,000 for the project, group or nominated relevant local charity in the case of the volunteer awards. Two runners-up in each category receive £250.

The winners are:

* Young people volunteering award - SELFA

SELFA Social is a user-led project in Craven for young people aged between 11 and 19. It aims to reduce social isolation, develop life skills, foster friendship groups and increase independence, building confidence and raising self-esteem. Members volunteer and fundraise for activities that they want to take part in. The group decides on the activities and how to raise money for them. This group effort means everyone at SELFA Social can be offered a place on the outing regardless of the expense. The group currently has 50 young people that attend on a regular basis.

Runners-up:Cameron Osborn and Adversity United; Josh Atkins

* Best community group - Exclusively Inclusive

Exclusively Inclusive is a facilitated friendship group in Craven that started to give two disabled people a sense of belonging and companionship, and has grown to 30-plus members in three years. There is a regular Friday afternoon get-together to put together the Craven Gazette and generally have fun, a monthly club night, 'come dine with me' events and trips and weekends away occasionally. The group has an allotment in Skipton, and sometimes meets in Settle. Members travel from across Craven.

Runners-up: Oatlands Community Group; Sleights Area Men’s Sheds

* Best community project - Great Ayton Discovery Centre

This project is a physical extension to the centre that will enable the organisation to expand their service provision, diversify their offer to the community and co-locate with the Tourist Information Centre. The extension to the north-east of the former Victorian school building is now in the process of being built after three years of development work by the GADC Board, in conjunction with partners. With the consultation highlighting that 60% of queries in the Library being tourism related, GADC opened discussions with the TIC about more formal partnership working arrangements.

Runners-up: Parents4Parents; Ripon Museum Trust

* Volunteer of the year - Tim Kirkup

Tim is the volunteer chair of the Scarborough Dementia Action Alliance, as well as a local ambassador and representative of the Alzheimer's Society. He is also a side by side volunteer for the organisation and supports a young man with dementia go cycling weekly as well as a group of people with dementia to go swimming each week. He supports the local weekly Singing for the Brain group, and monthly Activity Cafes in Scarborough and Filey.

Runners-up: Lisa O’Brien; Helen Sykes