After a year-long hiatus due to the pandemic, the Pride of Reading Awards were back with a bang this afternoon.

With 15 awards distributed, it was a lovely opportunity to thank each and every winner who has achieved incredible things during a challenging year.

The ceremony was filled with local celebrities, from former footballers to television presenters, but the real stars of the show were the award-winning community heroes of Reading.

One such winner was 11-year-old Charlie Kristensen whose anti-bullying campaign has seen him release his own single and host his own chat show with stars including Matt Lucas and Tamzin Outwaithe.

Speaking at the end of the ceremony, the Wokingham local could hardly contain his joy at picking up the award.

He said: “It felt absolutely incredible, I thought there was no way I had won.

“Then I heard the first sounds of my single and I was like ‘no way’.

“I cried and right now I feel like laughing, crying, screaming, jumping up and down- it’s an unbelievable feeling.

“I can’t describe it."


Reading Chronicle:

Forbury Terror Attack officers recieving their Local Heroes award

Another award in particular which set off the waterworks was the award of Local Heroes.

Following the horrific scenes in Forbury Gardens in June 2020 in which three men were stabbed to death, four police officers were commended for their immense bravery in apprehending the killer.

PC Liam Steele, Sgt Iain Watkinson, PC James Pacman and PC Liam King all collected their awards to a standing ovation.

Speaking after the event at the Select Car Leasing Stadium, Sgt Watkinson spoke of his ‘humbling’ experience.

He said: “It’s really humbling, especially when you consider the other award recipients today.

“We were just doing our job when the other people here have gone above and beyond.

“I made a special note to look out as sometimes it happens so quickly, but again it was very humbling knowing everyone appreciates what you have done.”

It was also a particularly special day for Royal Berkshire Hospital’s Dwyane Gillane, who won not only the Special Recognition award alongside all hospital staff, but also the personal Employee of the Year award.

He believes that this award will give those at the hospital a huge boost as we continue to battle the pandemic.

He said: “I am very humbled and honoured that the Pride of Reading has acknowledged the hard work we’ve all put in at the Trust, and personally it is a great honour to be nominated and win best employee.

“To see the Trust as an organisation get the appreciation will give everybody a boost because it is still tough.

“We are doing a really good job as pulling together and this award will help give a boost to morale.

“There’s been tough days and long hours but most importantly we’ve made sure the staff are healthy and that gives better care to our patients.

“The past 18 months has seen an outpouring of public emotion for us and it does mean a lot in these unprecedented times.”

Congratulations to all winners and nominees, you’re all winners in our eyes.

Reading Chronicle:

Charlie Kristensen with his Child of Courage award


Below we have listed each winner (Congratulations!):

Photograph Competition: Jumping for Joy, Anna Kennedy; Back to Ballet, Sonia Brown; Neville the Dog, Paul Clark

Entrepreneur of the Year: Paul Stacey, Reading Rep Theatre

Business in Action (under 50 employees): Naomi Lowe, Nibsy’s

Business in Action (over 50 employees): John Lewis and Partners

Charity of the Year: Whitley CDA

Community Champion: Tina Hancock

Smile of the Year: Ronnie Goodberry

Volunteer of the Year: No.5 Charity’s Young Ambassador’s Team

Child of Courage: Charlie Kristensen

Employee of the Year: Dwayne Gillane

Local Heroes: PC James Packman, Sgt Iain Watkinson, PC Liam Steele, PC Liam King

Inspiration Award: Sarah Shield

Cultural Contribution: County Dance

School of the Year: Denefield School

Fundrasier of the Year: Dexter Rosier

Special Recognition: Royal Berkshire Hospital

Chris Tarrant Award: Sue Ryder, Duchess of Kent House