The Spirit of Age Awards is our way of saying thank you to the thousands of people across the UK who help older people to love later life.
We asked you to nominate your later life heroes: people who have helped to make later life better, the inspiring Age UK volunteers who have gone the extra mile and the community groups that have made a difference.
Your nominations were put forward to a judging panel who had the very difficult task of picking a winner from the outstanding selection.
Angela Kulanayagam is the epitome of what the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness stands for. She has helped so many people in later life to combat loneliness and isolation by being there for them in their hour of need. She regularly visits vulnerable older people in their own homes, many of whom are confined to the house and can’t get out and have experienced many difficult and life-changing challenges. Angela provides a helping hand and a listening ear to steer them through the problems they face every day.
Age UK is proud to be a member of the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness which aims to tackle the silent epidemic of loneliness. This award is for someone exceptional who has gone above and beyond to tackle loneliness amongst older people.
Jenny is 86 and has volunteered at the Bangor shop for 18 years. She volunteers 4 days a week and travels 10 miles each day, in all weathers, to give her valuable time to help people in later life. Despite her own health conditions she is always positive and helps to motivate the whole team. Jenny is always full of fun and laughter and a real hit with the customers. She is also a pillar in her community and keeps an eye on all of her older neighbours to make sure they are well.
Sadly Jenny couldn't be with us on the night but her daughter Jean (pictured) was on hand to collect the award on her behalf.
This award is to celebrate an Age UK Shop volunteer, or team of volunteers, who have gone above and beyond to support the shop, their team, our customers and fellow volunteers.
SAND’s vision is a future where older lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people (LGBT) are fully integrated into, included and accepted by a whole community which values their experiences, meets their needs and offers appropriate personalised care. SAND was formed to raise awareness of the issues facing older LGBT people when they require health or social care support in later life. The group has worked tirelessly with providers to try to address and understand these needs and is driven by the passion of the people in the group who want to make a difference.
This award is given to an outstanding individual, team or service that promotes and enables equality and diversity among older people.
Christian has been a vital support to the gentleman he befriends through Age UK. When their friendship first started, Christian realised that the gentleman had not been able to leave his home for 9 months. He quickly got in touch with the authorities and despite some challenges, he didn’t take no for an answer. Thanks to Christian’s perseverance, his new friend has been moved to more suitable accommodation and is receiving the support and care he deserves.
Teresa is Spanish and a member of our telephone befriending service, Call in Time. Every Monday morning at 10.00am, she makes a befriending call to an 85 year-old widow, who relishes her calls. They are the highlight of his week. The man and his late partner lived in Spain for six years where he learned some basic Spanish. Theresa helps him to improve his Spanish. In return Teresa is helped with her English cooking, including how to make proper Yorkshire puddings! Teresa’s befriending partner feels very lucky and grateful to Age UK for putting Teresa in touch.
This award is for an Age UK Befriender who has made a huge impact on the lives of the older person they have befriended. This can be through face to face befriending or through our telephone befriending service, Call in Time.
Age UK Surrey’s Men in Sheds project brings together older men to meet up in their own space, socialise, learn new skills from each other and carry out activities that will bring benefit to the local community. The group works with the community on projects, such as making wooden crosses for Remembrance Day and selling bird boxes and bird tables at summer fetes.
The project has been running for about 3 years and is going from strength to strength! The men have formed strong friendships, and they also help and support each other in times of need. Many of the men live alone, so it’s a chance for them to make new friends with similar interests.
This award is to recognise the significant achievements of a local organisation, project or group which supports or is run by older people.
Tom takes on the formidable challenge of running the Virgin Money London Marathon each year for Age UK and has raised around £15,000 over 13 marathons. For his 75th birthday he actually ran three marathons! Tom is determined to raise even more to help support the charity’s vital work. Tom continues to be a vital part of the London Marathon team at Age UK providing running tips and supporting their training.
I continue to show my support for Age UK as it really saddens me to think of older people being alone.
This award celebrates an incredible fundraising achievement by an individual or single group in aid of Age UK.
Santander’s group of Charity Champions are Santander UK employees who volunteer to support Age UK and champion our work within the business. In addition to their regular day jobs, this group of dedicated people offer their time, knowledge and enthusiasm to engage as many people as possible to support Age UK. Most have directly volunteered for Age UK and are encouraging their teams to get involved, including signing up for Call in Time and running digital awareness classes at local Age UKs. They have also organised a vast range of fundraising activities across the board, raising a staggering £1,000,000 in the first year of the partnership.
This award recognises the outstanding support of an individual or group from one of our corporate supporter organisations who has gone above and beyond to fundraise and promote the work of Age UK.
Dorothy Rose is an inspiration to older people and promotes the work of Age UK Teesside at every opportunity. She is now 92 and has been involved with helping older people in her community since she was 19 when she became the minuting secretary for Stockton Old People's Welfare. When the organisation evolved into Age Concern and Teeside, Dorothy became the Chair of Trustees for many years.
73 years later, she still attends all of the major events at Age UK Teesside, still runs activity groups and has no thoughts of retiring from her charity work.
Dorothy was on a well deserved holiday so the award was collected by Anne Sykes, CEO of Age UK Teeside.
This award is for an individual who has made an outstanding lifelong contribution to support older people.
In January 2015 during a cold spell, Lynne’s boiler broke down and she was without heating or hot water for four days. At the same time she read an article about how many older people struggle to keep warm in the cold weather because they cannot afford to pay for extra heating. Lynne decided that although she could not change the lives of every older person who was cold, she could help a small number. She contacted wholesalers to source blankets, socks, gloves and hats, mugs and hot drinks and called upon the local community to help her raise the money she needed to distribute 50 Warm in Winter gift bags to older people in Watford. The project has expanded so much that last winter she distributed over 2,500 Winter Gift bags. She runs this project completely in her spare time while working and looking after her own family.
The Later Life Hero Award is given to an individual who has made a huge impact on the lives of older people. This could be through providing support, friendship or through helping an older person in their hour of need.
The John Ramsay Award is a special recognition award for a winner who has gone above and beyond. It's named in memory of John Ramsey, who had a career-long commitment to creating brilliant experiences for volunteers and volunteer managers as the Volunteering Development Manager at Age UK and founder of the Association of Volunteer Managers.
The winners attended a wonderful evening ceremony at the Merchant Taylors' Hall, London, on Wednesday 28 June, where they enjoyed a 3-course meal and entertainment with master of ceremonies Jon Culshaw.