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Shinfield’s volunteer heroes recognised with community awards

Sarah O'Neil (left)

TWO SHINFIELD residents have been awarded “local hero” status in a competition.

Louise Behan, who has raised thousands of pounds for children with cancer, and Sarah O’Neil, who founded a group called Helping Hand, were awarded the top two prizes by the team at Care UK’s Parsons Grange, in Westall Street.

First prize winner, Ms Behan won £300 after supporting Children with Cancer UK following her niece’s diagnosis as a baby. 

Ms Behan works as a counsellor and devotes most of her free time to organising race nights, running half and full marathons, and organising cake sales. 

Louise Behan (middle)

Her young daughters have also supported her, by making craft items and cakes, and certificates for people who have taken part in fundraising.

She said: “I was thrilled to be nominated, and being awarded first place is a wonderful surprise. I do what I can to help those in my community, striving to bring people together wherever I can, and it’s lovely to be recognised for my efforts.”

Second prize, of £200 went to Sarah O’Neil, who established the Facebook group Helping Hand. 

It allows people to ask for help anonymously and get support from their community. 

Ma O’Neil, a mother of two, has helped people source food, clothes, furniture and necessities this year while running her own personal training business throughout the pandemic and volunteering for her children’s school’s PTA.

She also produced more than 50 Christmas hampers for struggling families in the area with the help of Shinfield Baptist Church.

READ MORE: High Sheriff of Berkshire nominates her pandemic heroes – but who will win?

Anthony Browne, home manager at Parsons Grange, said: “We are thrilled to award first and second prizes to Louise and Sarah who are worthy winners of our Local Heroes competition. 

“The work they do is invaluable to the people of our community – particularly at a time when pandemic restrictions have meant that more people than ever can feel isolated and need additional support. 

“The way they have both brought communities together in particular stood out.”

Mr Browne said providing help for sick and vulnerable people is important to the team at Parsons Grange.

“We are pleased to be able to reward local heroes who go above and beyond for their community, friends and family, and have a positive impact on the local area – well done to both our winners,” he said. 

READ MORE: QUEEN’S AWARD: CLASP Wokingham’s learning disability work wins

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