Meet the winners of the West Cumbria Community Heroes Awards. 

They were named at a gala dinner at Whitehaven Golf Club last night.  

Carer of the year

MICHELLE WALL and her family, of Abbeytown, are an inspiration to hundreds of people.

Her son Noah was born with spina bifida and she has used her experiences to raise awareness about his condition and the importance of taking folic acid in pregnancy.

The judges said: "They are inspirational in the way they help others from their own experiences. They have gone way over and above what they needed to do." 

Finalists were: Hospice nurse Christine Hodgson , of Scawfell Avenue, Workington and West Cumbria Carers .

Neighbour of the Year 

RHODA SHARKEY , 70, works at Coleridge Stores in Egremont. 

Already well-known in the town, she rose to West Cumbrian prominence when she fought off a would-be thief with a blunt pair of scissors and a mop, when he demanded cash from the till. 

Judges said: "She has helped people out in her hour of need and shown some West Cumbrian grit." 

The other finalist was Paul Hulse , of the Highlands, Whitehaven. 

Good Friend of the Year 

ARBEN PERVIZAJ , eight, helped his friend Ryan Wood, who was involved in a collision with a car at Kells. 

Police called Arben a "superhero" after he checked Ryan was still breathing before running to get help. 

Judges said: "It is truly frightening what would have happened if it wasn't for Arben's cool head and quick thinking." 

Finalists were: COSC member Pauline Grears , of Egremont and Jack and Ben Snowden , of St Bees Athletic FC. 

Young Sporting Hero of the Year 

KYLE BICKLEY , of Workington, is the under-16 world champion speedway rider. 

Kyle, with his dad and granddad, travel the UK and Europe to make sure he holds on to his title. 

Recently, he set up a fund to help repair Northside track in Workington, following a spate of vandalism, as well as juggling school and home life. 

Judges said: "It is exceptional that at just the age of 16 he is a world champion speedway rider." 

Finalists were: Runner Olivia Mason , of Branthwaite, near Workington and Gemma Taylor , of Threlkeld, near Keswick, who is a downhill mountain biker. 

Sporting Hero of the Year 

LUKE GREENBANK , of Great Broughton, is one of Great Britain's brightest swimming prospects. 

The Cockermouth Swimming Club member has picked up a haul of medals and broken several records competing at junior swimming events across the world. 

He won two gold medals and two silver medals at the European Games in Azerbaijan in June. 

It is hoped he will be selected for the Rio 2016 Olympics. 

Judges said: "From the evidence we hope he will achieve his ambition of competing in the Rio Olympics. A great representative of Team GB." 

Finalists were: Marnie Jackson , who devotes her spare time to Great Clifton Junior Lions Rugby League Club and Simon Lawson , of Maryport, a wheelchair racer. 

Unsung Hero of the Year 

ALAN HUNTER is the manager of Allerdale COSC, based at Park Hill, Maryport. 

The centre provides day care for people with disabilities and also has a centre in Cleator Moor. 

Centre users are encouraged to take up new hobbies and join in with classes to help them socialise. 

Days out are also popular with members. It's not been easy for Alan and the committee, as money is tight but he manages to make sure members get the best out of their time there. 

Despite COSC being run on a minimal budget, they provide a lifeline for many and Alan has a huge part to play in the centre's success. 

Judges said: "COSC provides high quality day care and is ran very well with a safe, friendly and homely environment. He is a true unsung hero." 

Finalists were: Tracey Nicholson , who fund-raised to build a skate park in her son's Kieron Goulding's memory and Marie Scott , chairman of the West Cumbria Society for the Blind. 

Volunteer of the Year 

SANDRA MCKEOWN is in charge of Flimby Girls' Brigade. 

She was talked into taking over by her daughter, and Sandra said she would give it six months. 

Eighteen years later, she's still at the helm. Her nominator said the organisation has gone from strength to strength and this year, members have won national competitions in the Girls Brigade movement, putting Flimby on the map. 

Judges said: "She is beyond being 'just' a volunteer in everything she does to make sure she adds more value to young people and her community." 

Finalists were: Kieron Rogers , of Egremont and Linda Cairns , chairman of Greenbank Community Association in Whitehaven. 

Best Community Project 

MIREHOUSE RESIDENTS GROUP was formed in 2007. It is run by a committee of seven, whose aim is to improve the quality of life for the estate's residents.

It works with residents, schools and agencies to implement projects and events to get generations working together.

It has also developed a community garden and hosts sessions at Mirehouse Community Centre, including cookery and runs a fortnightly food co-op. 

Judges said: "This group proves its residents are proud to live there and work as a community for the good of the neighbourhood." 

Finalists were: North Lakes Foodbank , Stephen McDowell , a member of Friends of Kie Park, who aim to open a skate park in Hensingham and fund-raiser Ian Oglanby , of Dearham.

School Worker of the Year 

JERICHO PRIMARY SCHOOL 'S Stephanie Sapsed, Karen Pickering, Tracy Murphy, Deb Stephenson, Liz Little and Sophie Dowber have been nominated for their care and attention to the pupils of the Whitehaven school. 

The teachers and teaching assistants help look after Alison and Neil Brown's child, who has spina bifida and the parents said if it wasn't for the women, their daughter would not have been able to attend mainstream school. 

Judges said: "It is truly inspirational how the staff were happy to train to suit the needs of a student." 

Finalists were: Will Henderson , the caretaker at St Gregory and St Patrick's Community School in Whitehaven and Mrs Harvey , an English teacher at St Benedict's School in Whitehaven. 

Small to Medium Enterprise Sustainable Business of the Year 

REACT ENGINEERING , based in Cleator Moor, is a business that provides solutions to nuclear clean-up problems.

It says its commitment to Cumbria is second nature to it as for it to be successful, it needs Cumbria to be successful. 

It set up the React Foundation in 2004 to engage and inspire the next generation of engineers - its employees of the future. 

Over the last 10 years, it has developed several initiatives to promote science and engineering to youngsters aged between nine and 18. 

The other finalist was Cumbria Recycling Ltd , based at Lillyhall. 

Employing 20 people, each year, it processes over 31,000 TVs, 16,000 computer monitors, 10,000 computers and laptops and 4,000 washing machines and dryers. 

Large Sustainable Business of the Year 

JACOBS , based at Westlakes Science and Technology Park, near Whitehaven, employs 600 people across the county and says it is focused on building jobs and a skills base to support local sustainable business growth and deliver a range of socio-economic opportunities for local people. 

It works with partners to encourage young people's interest in science and engineering and to encourage young people to stay in the county. 

It also supports the Young Women in Engineering programme, sits on the executive board of Women in Nuclear and works with Women in Science and Engineering. 

The other finalist was National Nuclear Laboratory , which has six locations across Britain but the biggest number of staff are based in West Cumbria. 

Emergency Services Champion of the Year 

PAUL MURPHY was instrumental in setting up the Cumbria Blood Bikes service. 

Blood Bikes is a national charity that provide voluntary motorcycle courier services to hospitals and other healthcare providers, to help with the transport of urgent blood, tissue and organs. 

Paul gives up a lot of his time to make sure this much needed service stays on the road and his nominator says he is a dedicated and focused individual. 

Other finalists were: Mike Hughes , of Harrington, who recently celebrated 20 years of service with Workington RNLI and John Stobbart , of Main Street, High Harrington, coxswain of Workington RNLI. 

West Cumbrian Male of the Year 

STEPHEN COATES has worked tirelessly for the Cockermouth branch of the Royal British Legion for may years. 

Earlier this year, the branch, which had been going since 1925, was under threat when Stephen, the remaining officer, was forced to step down as there was no one else on the committee. 

Everyone knows him in Cockermouth and at this time of year, he is particularly busy with the Poppy Appeal, which he has organised for 34 years in the town. 

West Cumbrian Female of the Year 

JENNY BRUMBY , of Millom, led the town to rise and protest against the closure of its cottage hospital. She led a protest rally and helped give Millom people a voice in the future of their healthcare services. 

Young Achiever of the Year 

Judges felt KYLE BICKLEY was a worthy winner of this category. 

They said: "He is a world champion and as well as this, he is a fund-raiser. 

"He fund-raises in his spare time to help repair the Northside track in Workington as well as managing to juggle his home life and schoolwork. 

"He is a really positive role model." 

Judges' Special Award 

GERARD RICHARDSON , of Whitehaven, was given this award in recognition of his work for the town over the last few years. He organised Whitehaven Festival for many years and more recently, air shows, continental markets and a film festival.