TWO Shinfield residents have taken first and second place in a care home’s ‘Local Heroes’ competition, winning £300 and £200 respectively.

Louise Behan, who has raised thousands of pounds for children with cancer, and Sarah O’Neil, who founded a local group called Helping Hand, were awarded the top two prizes by the team at Care UK’s Parsons Grange, in Westall Street.

Anthony Browne, Home Manager at Parsons Grange, said: “We are thrilled to award first and second prizes to Louise and Sarah who are worthy winners of our ‘Local Heroes’ competition.

Sarah ONeil

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"The work they do is invaluable to the people of our community – particularly at a time when pandemic restrictions have meant that more people than ever can feel isolated and need additional support.

"The way they have both brought communities together in particular stood out.

“Providing help for sick and vulnerable people are causes that are close to our hearts here at Parsons Grange, and so we are pleased to be able to reward local heroes who go above and beyond for their community, friends and family, and have a positive impact on the local area – well done to both our winners.”

First prize winner, Louise Behan, has raised thousands of pounds for Children with Cancer UK following her niece’s diagnosis as a baby.

Louise, who works as a counsellor, devotes most of her free time to put on race nights, run half and full marathons, and organise cake sales. She’s even taken her fundraising to America.

Her young daughters have also played a massive part supporting her on all the various runs, making craft items and cakes, and even making their own certificates for people who have taken part in fundraising.

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Commenting on being named a ‘Local Hero’, Louise said: “I was thrilled to be nominated, and being awarded first place is a wonderful surprise.

"I do what I can to help those in my community, striving to bring people together wherever I can, and it’s lovely to be recognised for my efforts.”

Second prize went to Sarah O’Neil, who established, and tirelessly maintains, a local Facebook group called Helping Hand.

The group allows local people to ask for help anonymously and get support from their community.

Sarah, a mother of two, has helped people source food, clothes, furniture and all manner of necessities this year while running her own personal training business throughout the pandemic and volunteering for her children's school's PTA.

Sarah also produced over 50 Christmas hampers for struggling families in the area with the help of Shinfield Baptist Church.