The 2013 Trinity Mirror/ScottishPower Your  Champions scheme comes  to a glittering climax on  Friday with the annual  awards ceremony at the  Crowne Plaza in Chester.

Taking pride of place at the event will be all of the Chester Chronicle title winners which  we are delighted to highlight in  today’s edition.

On Friday, each of these local  winners will go up against  their counterparts in the  Ellesmere Port, Flintshire,  South Cheshire, Wirral and  Runcorn & Widnes areas, hoping to pick up the title of Overall Winners in their categories.

And on the night, we will also  be revealing the Champion of  Champions – the most outstanding winner across all categories of this year’s competition.

But whoever wins what on  the night, everyone who is honoured at the ceremony is  already deserving of the title  Your Champion.


Young person of the year - Josh Dunn

A teenager with cerebral  palsy who underwent a pioneering operation has been  declared as the Chester  Chronicle Young Champion  of the Year.

Josh Dunn, from Endsleigh  Close, Upton, was 18 when he  became the first patient to  have the procedure in the  north of England in a coup for  Liverpool’s Alder Hey Hospital.

The complex operation has  reduced the ‘tightness’ in  Josh’s muscles and, in combination with intensive  physiotherapy, is helping him  to bend his legs so that he can  walk more normally rather  than dragging his legs.

He is still using sticks but  the dream is that he will one  day cast them aside.

Mum Joan said: “He was  like a new-born baby, starting  again, but he’s doing really  well walking on his sticks,  but not as much as he should  do!”

And despite his legs, arms  and speech being affected by  the condition, Josh is determined to fulfil his potential. As  a student of West Cheshire  College he has passed his IT,  maths and English courses.

Josh drives an adapted car  and is a professional wheelchair basketball and rugby  league player.

Last summer Josh carried  the Paralympic flame in a  miner’s lamp through  Ellesmere Port having collected it from London where  he met David Cameron, Sebastian Coe and mayor Boris  Johnson.

Since Josh’s procedure, a  girl has undergone the same  operation at Alder Hey with  the hope she will benefit in  the same way.

Volunteer of the year - Jo Sykes

JO SYKES, pictured, is chairman of Chester  Mystery Plays (CMP), a registered  charity whose sole purpose is the  production of CMP every five  years.

Jo has been involved with  CMP since 1962 when, as a  young teenager, she performed in the plays. She has  been whole-heartedly dedicated ever since, joining the  board in 1995 and becoming  chairman in 2003.

Project manager Jane Dawson, who  nominated Jo, said: “Her voluntary role is  extremely ‘hands-on’ – it is hard to imagine  how this amazing community event could  happen without her.

“She works tirelessly on fundraising (having personally raised over £100k for the Plays  over the years), marketing, management and  tea-making!

“She is a charming and highly effective figurehead, representing  CMP locally, nationally and internationally – one minute she’s  on BBC Breakfast, the next  handing out leaflets in the city  centre in the pouring rain!

“She is CMP’s greatest champion, keeping an incredible (and  hugely enjoyable) part of Chester’s  heritage alive.

“Jo is a fantastic leader and role  model for the hundreds of volunteers that  form the CMP company – she encourages  and inspires them all, from the tiniest sheep  to the biggest centurion!

“Jo doesn’t do all this single-handed, but it  really couldn’t be done without her!”

Team of the year - Anya Bentham Appeal

FUNDRAISERS who set up  an appeal to raise £250,000  to pay for pioneering treatment in America for a  two-year-old cancer sufferer have been declared the  Chester Chronicle Team of  the Year.

Anya Bentham, of Waverton, Chester is still being  treated at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool  for an advanced form of an  aggressive cancer called  neuroblastoma.

The Anya Bentham Appeal, which aims to raise  the cash needed to pay for  treatment in America,  treatment which is not  available on the NHS, was  set up in December last  year and has already raised  a staggering amount with  cash still pouring in on a  daily basis.

Fundraisers have tackled  a whole range of challenges  from boxing nights to  sponsored walks and supermarket bag packs to shark  dives at the Blue Planet  Aquarium to help keep the  cash steadily rolling in –  passing the £250,000 goal.

Anya, mum and dad, Naomi Stanley and Graham  Bentham, recently had the  news they’d hoped for that  Anya’s treatment at Alder  Hey Children’s Hospital  had been successful and  their precious daughter  was now cancer free.

But the chances of a relapse in children who suffer  neuroblastoma are exceptionally high. And despite  the all-clear Anya remains  gravely ill with her immune  system particularly low.

Sporting champion of the year - Chester Romans

NOT every city can boast its own  American Football team.

But Chester Romans have been putting the city on the map in this tough,  physical sport and their achievements  have been recognised with the title of  Chester Chronicle Sporting Champion  of the Year in this year’s Your Champions awards.

For the first time in nearly 14 years,  the Chester Romans American Football team have reached the semi-finals  of the British American Football Association National League.

Under new guidance this year from a  new committee, the team worked tirelessly on and off the pitch to better  themselves.

Having started the season as ‘outsiders’, they put up a tough fight going  9-1 in their regular season, beating  teams who had been demoted from the  premiership division last year, and  clinching the National Central Division Champions title.

They also dedicated their annual  charity match to MacMillan for Cancer Support, raising £450 for them.

The team has been nominated by  Emma Ireland who said: “It's been an  amazing year for the Romans and I  think they deserve recognition.”

Champion person of the year - Hazell Gregory

HAZELL Gregory, who is head of housekeeping at The Wingate Centre in Wrenbury, has been declared the Chester  Chronicle Champion Person of the Year  in this year’s Your Champions awards.

Not only does she go the extra mile to  make the lives of every single child that  comes to stay at The Wingate Centre just  that little bit more special, she still  manages to find the time to support  countless other groups, charities and  schools in her local area.

She actively goes around the community to collect unwanted items and  either sells them at car boot sales or fairs  to raise money for local charities, or she  passes on the goods to groups such as the  Brownies at Great Barrow, Cancer Research in Chester, Tarvin Pre-School,  Barnardos and the Seahorse Swimming  Club for disabled children, to name but a  few.

She then organises for all the remaining bits and pieces that are of no use to  anyone to be collected by a local recycling firm.

All the money raised from this, which  stands at more than £1,000 so far this  year, is donated to The Wingate Centre to  help enrich the lives of children and  young adults with all levels of physical  and learning disabilities.

Catherine Moore, who nominated  Hazell, said: “Such a committed and  unassuming person, who quietly goes  around doing so much for local charities, really deserves recognition and to  be awarded the title of Champion of the  Year.”