Unsung heroes from across the Croydon community were recognised at an awards ceremony last night.

The annual Mayor’s Civic Awards, at the Hilton Hotel, celebrated the charitable work of those making their borough a better place.

There were smiles, cheers, and tears of happiness as 11 winners were announced from the 29 nominees invited to the event.

Speaking at the event, Mayor of Croydon councillor Bernadette Khan, said: “In this room we have many special people who selflessly devote their time to making this borough a better place.

“They are all heroes who bring about an amazing difference in other people’s lives and we want to celebrate them as individuals and organisations who only want to improve things for others.

“They manifest the very best of Croydon.”

The winners were:

• Mayor’s Lifetime Contribution Award – Kim Bennett

• Business in the Community Award – Clive Campbell (Croydon FM)

• Contribution to Sport & Healthy Living Award – Cre8 Football

• Don’t Mess with Croydon – Take Pride Award – Graham Mitchell

• Fairer Croydon Award – Croydon Independent Visitors – Volunteer Group

• Good Neighbour Award – Marley King

• Outstanding Contribution to Foster Care Award – Christine Austin

• Stronger Together Award – South Norwood Community Kitchen

• Young Achiever of the Year Award – Sophia Moreau

• Volunteer of the Year Award – Patricia Goonetilleke

• Voluntary Group of the Year Award – The Lions Society

Kim Bennett, won the Mayor’s Lifetime Contribution Award, for dedicating nearly two decades to CDI (Croydon Drop In), a charity that helps young people who need safe, flexible support and counselling.

Christine Austin, winner of the Outstanding Contribution to Foster Care Award, said of her 31 years providing a home to children and young people in need: “It’s been brilliant – there have been times when I have laughed, I have cried, and times when I have wanted to run away – but I have never wanted to give up. I still don’t.

“It’s been amazing and I would recommend it to anyone.”

Laura Doughty was among those representing the borough’s team of 65 volunteers who scooped the Fairer Croydon award for their work supporting children and teenagers in foster care.

She said: “It is a surprise to win the award because although we do good work, I don’t think a lot of people know about the work that we do.

"Winning is testimony to the team within the council and the all the volunteers who give many hours of their time throughout the month, taking these young people to the park, to a museum, or other activities that simply allow them to be a young person.”

The evening was hosted by local resident and compere Anthony King, with councillor Hamida Ali, cabinet member for communities, safety and justice.

There was plenty of entertainment throughout the evening for guests to enjoy, with performances from the Croydon-based London Mozart Players, the UK’s longest established chamber orchestra, dance group Company of Dreams who work with women recovering from trauma and the Jam Bus Djembe Kings, from Ecclestone Primary School, who rehearse on a bus paid for by singing sensation Ed Sheerhan.

To finish the evening, council employee and DJ Julie Brickley from Club Soda, an organisation led by people with learning disabilities, closed the night.