The WOHL JVN volunteering awards last night celebrated 18 inspirational organisations and individuals who have dedicated their time to charity with a dinner and awards ceremony at JW3.
Stella Lucas MBE received a standing ovation when she collected her Judy Citron Award for Lifetime Achievement, named after the late founder of Jewish Volunteer Network.
The 98-year old established the 18-strong chain of All Aboard charity shops. Standing on stage, she joked about the challenges of setting up the charity. “No one would listen! People are so obstinate! But I said, if Oxfam do it for non-Jewish charities, why can’t we do it for Jewish?”
Since its creation in 1991, All Aboard has raised over £3 million for British Jewish charities, gaining Lucas an MBE for services to the Jewish community.
The event was media partnered by Jewish News, which awarded its People’s Choice Award to Scott Saunders, founder of March of the Living UK. Since 2010, Saunders has organised, fundraised and led annual groups of over 200 young Jews on Holocaust education trips to Poland.
Leora Robinson and Sarah Rose won the CAC 18 and under and HW Fisher Young Adult Volunteering awards respectively for their efforts in befriending the elderly. The Apploi Innovation in Volunteering Award went to Emmunah on Ebay, while Shelley Schachter-Cahm won the Pears Foundation Overseas & International Award for her work sending toys and baby equipment to poor countries.
The BDB Volunteer Friend of the Community Award went to South Korean Jon Min Jeong for his time and dedication to the Nightingale Hammerson home since 2006, while Merseyside Jewish Community Care triumphed with the Aston Chase Volunteer Team of the Year Award. The Wohl Foundation Volunteer of the Year Award, named after the event sponsors, was jointly awarded to Hannah Manson and Ruth Barnett.
Hannah Manson won the volunteer of the year award for her work with Langdon, Hammerson House and the Jerusalem Foundation. She said: “I was slightly shocked when I found out that I had been nominated and then shortlisted for the Wohl JVN but was absolutely delighted to have won. The JVN is an amazing network that facilitates volunteering across the community and country and I am so pleased to have been honoured.”
Over 120 people were nominated for this year’s awards. Speaking on behalf of the judges panel, Lady Lira Winston emphasized the “really hard decisions” over the “exceptional nominees”.
The event was hosted by former BBC newsreader and NCVO Chairman Martyn Lewis CBE, who has been active in the volunteer sector for over 30 years.
Commenting on the funding challenges facing small to medium charities, Lewis said: “More and more charities are looking at how they can cooperate. Look at other charities that are doing the same kind of work as you. If you can share administration and organisational costs, you will have more money for the cause itself.’
Leonie Lewis, Director of JVN said: “These awards recognise the enormous range of volunteering roles in the Jewish Community. Each and every one of these roles is unique, special and vitally important. Volunteering is the essential glue that binds and secures our community and its future.”
JVN supports over 300 Jewish and non-Jewish charities with advice, volunteer recruitment and retention, while helping volunteers connect with opportunities that suit their experience, skills and interests.