COMMUNITY awards were presented to three individuals and organisations in St Helens last week, in recognition of their commendable work throughout the pandemic.

At an event at Marie Rimmer's constituency office on Friday, October 15, the St Helens South and Whiston MP handed out individual, sports club and support group awards to those who have gone the "extra mile" during the past 18 months.

The Community Sports Group Winner went to Portico Vine ARLFC for their efforts in adapting to the pandemic. The rugby club’s work in supporting players, staff, and the wider community was highlighted by the Rugby Football League authorities who shared it as best practice to clubs up and down the country.

Throughout the numerous lockdowns, the local club contacted large manufacturers to redistribute food to those who needed it most - delivering more than 5000 canons of soup to the Hope Centre and Teardrops charities.

St Helens Star: Portico Vine took home the Community Sports Group awardPortico Vine took home the Community Sports Group award

Mark Hopin, Chairman of Portico Vine ARLFC said: “Portico Vine members and volunteers are absolutely thrilled to have been recognised by this award.

“Our sole aim at the start of the pandemic was to keep our players, supporters and volunteers as safe as we could set against the ever-changing rules and restrictions. With regular internal and external communications, our mitigation strategy was implemented and driven forward by every member of the club, meaning the wider community was kept as safe as possible.

“On behalf of everybody involved at our club, I am truly humbled to have received a Community Champion Award from Ms Rimmer and all involved in the nomination process.”

St Helens Star: Directors of No Duff UK, Dean Owen and Dave LeighDirectors of No Duff UK, Dean Owen and Dave Leigh

The Community Support Group Award went to local veterans’ group, No Duff.

In addition to supporting the ever-growing list of military and emergency services veterans with their mental health, during the pandemic the group signed up for Operation React - to distribute food to people in the community, particularly to those clinically vulnerable or shielding.

Dean Owen, chief executive of No Duff said: "It is fantastic to receive such an award and to be recognised for the hard work we do in helping those, who have and those who are still serving to protect and help us.

“Not only do we graciously accept this prestigious award we would like to thank the No Duff UK team, Stephen Baines of the Wonderland Community Centre, Merseyside Police, and those who put their service before self.”

The Community Business Award went to Alex O’Neill who was unable to attend the presentation.

The nominating process for the awards took place over August, with the winners decided because of their efforts to go the extra mile to help the community at such a difficult time.

Speaking after the event, Ms Rimmer said: “I was delighted to recognise No Duff and Portico Vine rugby league club for their efforts since the pandemic began. Community spirit comes to the forefront in tough times. The spirit showed by these two are a beacon to us all about how we should look after and care for one another.

“The pandemic has caused horror and pain for our community. But in all my years living here, I have never been prouder of the efforts that have been made by local groups and people. There are many others that deserve to be recognised and I want to thank everyone who went the extra mile to help our community.”