Eleven people were recognised as Aston Villa’s 2019 Community Champions at Villa Park on Saturday.
The winners – some of whom were unable to attend – were taken on a stadium tour ahead of watching Villa’s 3-0 victory against Middlesbrough from the McGregor’s suite, where they enjoyed complimentary food and drink.
The award is run by the Aston Villa Foundation as part of the Supporting Our Own initiative, which is the club’s commitment to its local community.
Here, we’re highlighting the fantastic work that resulted in each of our Community Champions being recognised by the club.
Michala Roche and Sharon Winfindale
Michala and Sharon run a volunteer group called Outreach Angels, taking to the streets of Birmingham every Tuesday night to distribute food, clothing and essential items to homeless people.
The duo also give up their time on a Thursday night to sort through donations ready for the following week’s outreach.
Born in Nechells, Naomi juggles being a parent and business owner with running grassroots football team Nechells Lions in her spare time.
Alongside her coaching, Naomi raises money for Free@Last, a community centre in Nechells, and she is climbing Mount Kilimanjaro later this year.
Nilesh is a founding member of Villans Together, a supporters group that champions diversity and equality at Villa Park.
Villans Together aims to engage with local people and bring new fans to the stadium by supporting their matchday experience.
Aston Villa Season Ticket holder Tony has helped raise over £180,000 for a girl named Isabella Lyttle, who was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma nine years ago.
Tony has organised charity events, co-ordinated fundraising and raised awareness to enable Isabella to have potentially lifesaving treatments.
Natalie has raised thousands of pounds for Midlands Air Ambulance Charity and The Queen Elizabeth Hospital Charity after they helped save her life following an incident in which she was stabbed 24 times.
Her exploits include running five marathons in five days, raising over £10,000 for her chosen charities.
Charles’ help has been invaluable in helping a local day centre continue to operate, providing transport for elderly people.
Each week, he transports 16 people to the centre and then back to their homes via minibus, a voluntary deed that allows the day centre to operate.
Ruth died suddenly at the age of 45 in January this year, but she leaves behind a legacy of championing equality for people with learning disabilities.
For nearly two decades, Ruth worked for the CASBA charity, successfully applying for a Heritage Lottery Grant which will look at the history of special education in Birmingham.
Kerry volunteers at Crackers Playgroup every week, providing children aged four and under with a safe space to play and learn.
The group is a lifeline to the many parents and carers who attend and it has a great impact on their lives.
Lifelong Villa fan John is a service user at Creative Support’s Birmingham Mental Health Recovery and Employment service’s Northfield Hub.
After setting himself the goal of gaining work as a volunteer to reduce his social isolation, John was hired in the role of Meet and Greet volunteer in Creative Support’s Harborne centre earlier this year.
Born with a kidney problem, Luke spent time at Acorns Children Hospice in the years before he had a successful transplant at age seven.
To repay the support he received, Luke has fundraised for the charity several times, including raising £2,000 when he ran the Birmingham Half Marathon.