Rotary club steps in after axe for awards

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Belper and Duffield Rotary Club is set to launch it’s own awards night for youngsters, after council chiefs axed a long-running ceremony.

Last week, the Belper News reported how the Derbyshire Young Achievers’ Awards was being scrapped by Derbyshire County Council in a bid to save cash.

Shirley Holmes, whose daughter Paige Holmes, 17, of Fritchley, was honoured through the initiative for her bravery after a car crash in 2009 said she was “devastated” to hear of the event’s demise.

After reading the article, rotarians have been inspired to plan a replacement awards scheme to cover the Belper and Duffield area.

Belper and Duffield Rotary Club President, Hilary Surga, said: “We have been looking for a while at how the club, with the support of the local community, could help recognise the courage and perseverance shown by some of our young people.

“We feel this is the ideal opportunity for us to step in and fill the gap left by the local authority. The details have yet to be sorted but we look forward to working with the Belper News, local companies and all those people in contact with youngsters who are struggling to live a normal life.

“It will take some time to get all this up and running but we are aiming to hold the first awards ceremony early next year.”

The Young Achievers’ Awards, which had been going since 1998,were axed at the same time as The Excellence in the Community Awards - which honoured individuals, groups, voluntary groups and charities which are making a difference to the lives of others.

Council chiefs said the two events cost a combined £30,000 to put on, and that it was money that could be used elsewhere to protect services.

Derbyshire County Council must save £157 million over the next five years.

This week the authority ordered checks of gas, electric and water bills to identify and reclaim any overpayments.

The council is recruiting a company on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis to analyse £60m worth of energy bills for its 900 buildings over the last six years.

Councillor Brian Ridgway, Derbyshire County Council Cabinet member for council services, said: “We’re faced with a huge funding shortfall due to the cuts imposed by the coalition government and are doing all we can to protect services and jobs.

“The first task is to make sure our own house is in order and, like anyone during tough economic times, we want to make sure there is no leakage.

“We’ve got nothing to lose and plenty to gain. The checks will cost us nothing and specialist firms tell us it could result in a claw back of overpayments of anything ranging from £44,000 to £4.8m, and will help ensure similar overpayment mistakes aren’t made in future.”