Community heroes gathered at the Hilton Metropole Brighton on Sunday afternoon (December 8) for the very first Best of Sussex Community Awards.
There was a festive feel as guests enjoyed a drinks reception and afternoon tea while Christmas music played, and this was followed by the awards ceremony where guests heard about the work and achievements of all 41 finalists.
Compered by Ambrose Harcourt, there were speeches by JPIMedia editorial director for Sussex Gary Shipton, as well as Sussex-based novelist Kate Mosse and headline sponsor Mike Harris of the Sussex Masonic Foundation.
The event celebrated the brilliant work of community groups, volunteers, fundraisers and carers in our area, with inspiring stories from all over Sussex.
Julie Masters, who goes above and beyond in her community of Crawley, helping the elderly at home and even doing fish and chip runs, won the Carer of the Year award, and said: "I am completely overwhelmed. Thanks so much to my lovely daughter for nominating me."
Rosie Turner, 89, is known as 'Granny Rosie' in her hometown of Chichester, where she knits extravagant window displays for Chestnut Tree House charity shops - so dedicated to the cause, she was even knitting during the awards ceremony! She won the Local Hero award, and said: "This is the last thing I expected. Thank you so much!"
Ellie Mae Wile-Dunne, 11, won the Spirit of Youth award for raising more than £100,000 for charity after her battle with cancer when she was four.
And Dan Brooks, 12, was named Fundrasier of the Year for his efforts in raising cash for Albion in the Community, which helped him when he was experiencing difficulties at school due to autism.
And Jess Webb, 14, was named Overall Achiever for raising more than £11,000 for Huntingtons Disease after the loss of her grandfather and uncle.
These are just some of the heartwarming stories shared at the inaugural Best of Sussex Awards.
Winners went home with an award, but all finalists were treated to a trip on the i360, provided by DMH Stallard, in recognition for their hard work.
The winners at the Best of Sussex Community Awards were:
Crowborough Community First Responders
Charity of the Year
Sussex Cancer Fund
Fundraiser of the Year
Best Community Organisation (sponsored by The HR Dept)
Community Stuff, Eastbourne
Carer of the Year (Sponsored by Barracloughs Opticians)
Julie Masters and Tash Burrows
School of the Year
Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee School Horsham
Business in the Community
Spirit of Youth Award
Ellie Mae Wile-Dunne
Volunteer of the Year
Shaun Lyndon-Smith, Dementia Support
Local Hero Award
Overall Achiever (Sponsored by the Sussex Masonic Foundation)
Tangmere Primary School