We asked you to nominate your community champions, those who have gone above and beyond to help, feed and entertain others during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Unsurprisingly, the nominations flooded in, as readers from all over Tayside rushed to sing the praises of their favourite lockdown lifesavers.
And now, the Evening Telegraph is proud to present the finalists of the Dundee’s Champion Awards, sponsored by Ninja Kiwi.
Choosing who made it through to the final – to be hosted online by Tele columnist and Homes Under the Hammer presenter Martel Maxwell on September 25 – proved incredibly difficult for the judging panel.
Head judge and Tele editor Dave Lord said: “It wasn’t an easy process when everyone nominated is so deserving of recognition. Thank you to all who voted and to everyone who’s stepped up to help fellow Dundonians during this crisis. Hope to see you online on September 25.”
Business Champion Award
When Covid-19 struck, the stops were pulled out to help as many as possible at Hillcrest Homes, including supporting people to bridge any income shortfalls and campaigns for domestic abuse and mental health, while also offering support to isolated older people through the HOPE project.
The Hearing Voices Network (HAVEN) has been working tirelessly to provide food parcels and help those with mental health issues throughout the pandemic, while inspiring others in the community to get involved and ensuring they are always at the end of the phone to those in need.
Dundee has been at the heart of the city since buses took over from trams in the 1950s. It has been nominated for keeping the city moving during lockdown, introducing new timetables, health and safety procedures and making sure key workers could continue their roles.
Charity Champion Award
Grey Lodge Settlement
Staff at the Grey Lodge Settlement helped the community during lockdown donating food, calling for a chat and cheering everyone up. They kept an eye on younger and older people in the community. They also rearranged activities to allow them to go ahead while adhering to restrictions.
Holly spent her time over lockdown getting on her bike and, over eight days, she cycled an incredible 80 miles. At just eight years old, the fantastic achievement also allowed Holly to donate £1,500 to Dundee Bairns which she raised through sponsorship for her mammoth cycle.
Zara also completed an incredible cycle, covering an unbelievable 149 miles over 10 days to raise money for vulnerable and lonely people at Christmas as part of Dundee United Community Trust’s Festive Friends campaign. Thanks to the eight-year-old, 50 people will be able to receive a meal.
Community Champion Award
HOPE (Helping Older People Engage)
The HOPE project is a free service for over-55s in Dundee. The project was proactive in delivering essential supplies and medication, arranging care support and solving any problems from the start of lockdown.
Lochee Community Larder
The small Lochee-based charity made up of five local trustees and a small team of volunteers has been working flat out throughout lockdown to support those in the community who need it most, including those who were shielding.
The Food Train
During the pandemic The Food Train has been a lifeline to the older community, sometimes being the only source of contact, but always providing fresh food, a friendly familiar face and, importantly, someone to talk to.
Entertainment Champion Award
Dundee Superheroes helped put smiles back on children’s faces while communities were stuck at home all over Dundee, dressing up as famous superheroes and visiting streets throughout the city in their own time.
Jimmy started up a group on Facebook to entertain his friends but took it a step further with the page amassing more than 55,000 followers. Entertainment included musical acts, bingo and he even helped organise food parcels in the city.
Janitor Kevin has been keeping spirits raised with his bingo nights with a twist which includes visits from his alter ego Katherine. He also organised street bingo nights for neighbours and locals to help keep the community smiling.
Key worker (individual) award
Daniel is the head chef at Balhousie St Ronans Care Home where he also holds weekly cooking workshops with children in the foster care system. He has been able to continue these popular classes during lockdown by offering virtual classes and sending ingredients to the foster children.
Karin was nominated by a young carer at Dundee Carers Centre where she works. Karin has shown great compassion in calling the youngsters for counselling sessions and is always ready to help. Even with tough dilemmas, Karin has been able to offer support with exceptional courage.
Rachel is a nurse in the Homeless Health Outreach Team, and has been working on her own throughout the pandemic supporting the sometimes forgotten community. Rachel has assisted many people into recovery from illicit drug use, and has developed the Dundee Recovery Road Map.
Key worker (team) award
Ballumbie Court Care Home staff
The staff at Ballumbie Court Care Home have been nominated for their work throughout the pandemic caring for residents at a difficult time. This meant many put their own lives on hold and put their work before seeing their own families, to be there for the residents.
Lauren Tilston and Holly McKenzie
Lauren and Holly are support workers at Hillcrest Futures’ Hillbank service. The pair decided to create a video using Makaton to sign a popular song, I’m On My Way, inviting staff and service users from other branches to join in, giving a lighthearted focus during the difficult time.
The team consisting of nine staff has supported service users at Blackwood Court who have multiple, profound disabilities. During lockdown the team has ensured care was still of the highest standard and kept families up to date and reassured during the pandemic.
Sport & wellbeing award
Dundee West Football Club
As football shut down due to Covid-19, Dundee West recognised the huge problem families faced with mental and physical health. The club provided online Zoom sessions for young members to take part in and continue developing their skills as well as staying connected.
Active living and seniors programme manager at ISE, Hazel has been doing circuits and sleek classes twice a week from her home through Zoom, enabling the older members she works with to keep in touch and continue to keep fit, providing company and encouragement to each participant.
Kanzen has worked exceptionally hard to carry on providing members their usual training via Zoom and Facebook. The team has also organised guest instructors from around the world and offered support to members who may be experiencing difficulties with the current situation.
Young person Champion award
Born and bred Dundonian Andrew, 19, has been diagnosed with seven disabilities since birth, including cerebral palsy and autism, but didn’t let that get in the way when he founded Dundee Culture, a social media brand promoting the positives of Dundee which is on the cusp of becoming a business.
Catherine, 8, is always finding ways to help others across the city. Every year since she was four she has taken part in Dundee Kiltwalk raising money to benefit charities across the city. She has raised more than £1,000 each for causes such as Roxburghe House and Dundee Bairns.
Seven-year-old Lauren started painting during lockdown. After selling her work inspired by Van Gogh for £50, Lauren decided to donate the money to Dundee Bairns She has donated a further £1,000 after putting her images on T-shirts, with a little help from her dad, which she has sold.