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THE RETURN of the Steve Morgan Awards brought a fitting end to an inspirational annual conference as over 200 charity representatives came together to share their ideas and experiences.

The second Steve Morgan Foundation charity conference, staged at Carden Park Hotel in Cheshire, was another major success with a day of presentations and workshops, followed by the return of the awards for the first time since 2012.

Steve Morgan, chairman of the Foundation, said: “It was another wonderful and inspiring day.

“We held our first annual conference last year, which I thought was great, but this was even better, and has set the bar even higher for future years.

“I think all of us tend to get so busy and wrapped up in our day-to-day activities, that we forget that other people out there have issues very similar to our own.

“Charities will often experience the same situations and the same frustrations, and getting together at this conference is so valuable in sharing stories which we can all relate to.

“It was after last year’s first conference that we decided to bring back our awards, and we were really impressed with the quality of the applications.

“The judging process, which included some online voting, took a lot of time and effort but we really enjoyed seeing how much incredible work is taking place at the grass roots levels of so many communities.

“We had over 100 applications and I think any one of them could have won – they were that good.

“I would also say that every single one of the charities that came along to our conference are winners, because of the work they do and what they put back into society.”

Presentations were given by representatives from a series of diverse charities – the Open Door Centre, Neo Community, Youth Shedz and Designs In Mind CIC – covering subjects such as improving mental health, the importance of volunteers, and how to build resilience within an organisation.

Workshops

A series of workshops were then held covering a range of topics with charity representatives encouraged to share their experiences, prompting many to consider linking up together in the future.

The day was concluded with the presentation of five awards, including an Outstanding Individual Award, won by Diane Clark, CEO with Passion for Learning CIO in Chester, a charity which recruits volunteers to help children to read and learn.

Diane said: “This means more to me than anything, because without the Steve Morgan Foundation, we would be nowhere,” said Diane.

“They were the first people I met that really understood what I was trying to do when I was working out of the boot of my car!

“Without the Steve Morgan Foundation, we wouldn’t have reached the thousands of children that we now reach, and that is why nothing means more to me than this.”

The Best Entrepreneurial Charity or  Social Enterprise Award was won by RainbowBiz CIC, with Neo Community being named as the Charity or Social Enterprise making the Greatest Local Impact.

The Priority Youth Project was named as the Best Charity or Social Enterprise Changing Young Lives, while the Open Door Centre was awarded the prize for the Best Volunteer Team.

The awards, which included prizes of £5,000 for the winners and £1,000 for the runners-up, were presented by Steve and his fellow trustees Sally Morgan, Ashley Lewis and Rhiannon Walker.

The Kim Community Choir, part of the Flintshire-based Kim Inspire charity which provides high quality support for people with mental health issues, also received rousing applause after their uplifting performance.

Photography by Keyhole Productions, whose director Kris McDonald was named the Best Young Entrepreneur at the Steve Morgan Foundation awards back in 2010.