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Monkey World News

Gwen 'humbled' by Hero of Year award

Daily Echo

A WOMAN who dedicates every day of her life to helping the homeless, stroke victims and families has been crowned Bournemouth's Hero of the Year. Gwen White, a volunteer for Winton Salvation Army, was also given the Community Spirit Award at the Unsung Hero Awards, organised by Bournemouth 2026. Speaking after the ceremony at the Carrington House Hotel, the 76-year-old grandmother from Southbourne said: "I enjoy what I do. "I love people and have so much love in my heart that I like to help them. I'm very shocked and humbled to have won this award." The awards were hosted by the Daily Echo's news editor Andy Martin, the Mayor of Bournemouth, Cllr Stephen Chappell, and Alison Cronin of Monkey World, who paid a moving tribute to her late husband Jim, founder of the animal sanctuary at Wool. She said: "Jim was a great believer that every single person could make a difference and he believed in the spirit of the unsung hero. "Jim was a hero in many people's eyes and all of his characteristics of passion, focus, drive and giving are present in the finalists of these awards." JPMorgan sponsored the Hero of the Year Award. Other titles included the Clean and Green Award, sponsored by Transdev Yellow Buses, which went to the Northey and Padfield Residents Association for efforts to clean up their neighbourhood. Angela Pooley, an environmental campaigner for East Dorset Friends of the Earth, was runner-up. The winner of the Crime Buster Award, sponsored by Dave Wells Properties, was Anne Robertson for her work with the Westbourne and West Cliff Safer Neighbourhood Team. The runner-up was Boscombe Gardens Football Project - a partnership working to build the self-esteem and health of young people. Hazel Thorby, whose project to record photos and memories has reunited dozens of people living in Kinson in the 1950s, was runner-up in the Community Spirit Award. The Heart of Gold Award went to John Major, of Bournemouth and Christchurch Alzheimer's Association, who was motivated to help when his wife was diagnosed with the condition. Dots Disability, an organisation promoting equality for disabled people, was runner-up. Steve Mowlem, a sports development worker for Nacro who provides football training for people living in West Howe, claimed the title in the Fighting Fit category. Bronwyn Pendrey, an animal therapist from Caring Canines who works with children with autism, was runner-up. Each winner was presented with a trophy and £250 to donate to a charity of their choice. The awards evening also featured an auction and raffle, and raised around £600 for the Mayor's Charities (Bournemouth Heart Club, Coda Music Trust Ltd, the Crumbs project, Vita Nova and the Wessex Autistic Society). Douglas Eyre, chairman of Bournemouth 2026, said: "The awards highlighted an incredible cross-section of the different activities being carried out for the benefit of others day by day without widespread recognition." And he added: "These awards give our finalists the recognition they deserve from the community."

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