03 December 2012
Unsung Christian heroes celebrated at parliamentary awards ceremony
The winners of the Inspire Awards 2012 for unsung Christian heroes have been announced at a parliamentary reception.
The awards are an annual celebration of the work of individual Christians, projects and churches that don't normally find themselves in the limelight but nevertheless provide invaluable services in their communities across the UK.
The judges shortlisted nine entries from the three award categories of Inspiring Individual, Inspiring Project, and Children's and Youth Initiative. Each of these candidates was invited to the reception hosted by Christian MPs in the Houses of Parliament on 29 November.
The overall winners of the three categories were Mike Hulcoop from Aylesbury who won the Inspiring Individual Award for the money management centre he runs from his local church, Ed Walker representing Hope into Action from Northampton, which won the Inspiring Project Award for its work helping vulnerable adults be integrated back into their communities, and Martin Dickson who collected the Children's and Youth Initiative Award on behalf of Wirral YFC for the work they do to publically affirm 'young heroes' who have been an inspiration to their peers.
The winners spoke of their delight at winning the awards:
Michael Hulcoop from Aylesbury said: "Never in my wildest dreams did I think I'd be standing here in the Houses of Parliament winning an award for helping people with their money problems and I'm really honoured. But this award is also a tribute to our all those who make a brave step when they bring their debt problems to our door and begin that journey of unburdening themselves."
Ed Walker, founder and director of Hope into Action in Peterborough said: "Standing alongside our tenants, who were formerly homeless, as they rebuild their lives is a humbling, exciting, inspiring and sometimes difficult experience but this award gives us great encouragement that we are doing the right thing. It's also a testament to those who've supported our vision of getting the local church to bring its unique gifts to help give a home to some of the most vulnerable people in society."
Children's and Youth Initiative:
Martin Dickson of Wirral YFC said: “Too few young people get recognised for the amazing things they do in their communities because it too easy to focus on the negatives. This award helps us in our mission to reverse that trend and publically affirm the young people who are an inspiration to the Wirral.”
Faith Minister Baroness Warsi said of the awards: "Faith communities make a vital contribution to national life - guiding the moral outlook of many, inspiring great numbers of people to public service and providing support to those in need.
"The participants at these awards are driven by their desire to care for the vulnerable, which is why it is so wonderful that ceremonies like this honour the unsung heroes around the country who make a difference in their communities.
"I know the Christian community holds service to the vulnerable at its core so I am pleased to congratulate all participants at the Inspire Awards 2012."
Inspire magazine’s editor Russ Bravo said of the awards: "In this fourth year of the Inspire Awards, I was continually encouraged by the creative, compassionate and faith-fuelled contributions that Christians around the UK made to their local communities.
"It's a telling reminder that the Church across Britain is alive and well, and seeing lives changed for the better. We hope this small selection of the thousands of projects and initiatives being worked out day by day will inspire others to see how their passion and vision can transform lives, and so change our world for good and for God."
Steve Clifford, general director of the Evangelical Alliance, added: "I am overwhelmed and heartened by hearing how Christian individuals and organisations are doing amazing work in their local communities.
"It was once again an honour to celebrate the community transformations we are so passionate about as Christians."
Photos of the winners are available on request.
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Notes to Editors
The Evangelical Alliance
We are the largest and oldest body representing the UK’s two million evangelical Christians. For more than 165 years, we have been bringing Christians together and helping them listen to, and be heard by, the government, media and society. We’re here to connect people for a shared mission, whether it’s celebrating the Bible, making a difference in our communities or lobbying the government for a better society. From Skye to Southampton, from Coleraine to Cardiff, we work across 79 denominations, 3,500 churches, 750 organisations and thousands of individual members. And we're not just uniting Christians within the UK – we are a founding member of the World Evangelical Alliance, a global network of more than 600 million evangelical Christians. For more information, go to www.eauk.org.