York Normandy veteran Ken Cooke took the top honour in The Press’ Community Pride Awards.

The winners of the awards were announced last night (Thursday, September 28) at York Racecourse.

Ken was named the York Community Pride Person of the Year. He is the sole surviving York Normandy veteran and is well known across the city for his commitment to educating future generations.

The 98-year-old is also the honorary president of the York Inset Scooter Club.

He took part in the D-Day landings at Gold Beach as a young Green Howards private 79 years ago.

York Press: Ken CookeKen Cooke (Image: Daniel Saunders)

In June, on the 79th anniversary of D-Day, he unveiled a special memorial bench at York Railway Station – the very station where he had returned home on being demobbed after the war.

Last night’s awards celebrated local heroes in categories ranging from charity fundraiser and health service hero to sporting hero and school of the year. More than 100 local heroes were nominated.

Three remarkable youngsters were recognised for their efforts to do good in the community in the Child of the Year category.

They were Billie-Grace Bowater, aged six who cut off her hair to donate it to The Little Princess Trust and raised £850 for the charity; Erica Reynolds, aged four, who took it upon herself to clean up litter during her walks, recognising its impact on the environment; and Scarlett Walker, who is a young carer for her disabled brother and recently cared for her terminally ill grandad.

York Press: Erica Reynolds, Billie-Grace Bowater and Scarlett Walker were recognised in the Child of the Year category Erica Reynolds, Billie-Grace Bowater and Scarlett Walker were recognised in the Child of the Year category (Image: Supplied)

Other winners included Charity Fundraiser Sid Gornall, who, along with his loved ones, has raised over £26,000 for the Lily Foundation after his son Bill was diagnosed with MELAS - a rare nervous system and muscle disorder.

Menfulness, the charity that provides a lifeline to York men suffering from mental health problems, was named Best Community Project.

York Press: Bill and Sid GornallBill and Sid Gornall (Image: Sid Gornall)

Other winners were:

York Press: The York Community Pride Awards winners 2023The York Community Pride Awards winners 2023 (Image: Simon Godley)

Steve Lowe, sales director at The Press, said: “The York Community Pride Awards are a meaningful and uplifting recognition programme that honours individuals, organisations, and initiatives that exemplify a deep commitment to their community's well-being and the values that make it thrive.

“These awards serve as a testament to the power of community pride, highlighting the exceptional efforts made by those who work tirelessly to enhance the quality of life in their localities.

“Everyone shortlisted should be very proud and winning is even better, thank you to everyone who submitted a nomination, well done to those shortlisted and congratulations to the winners.

“Finally, a big thank you to Hiscox for being this year’s headline sponsor and to all the category sponsors too, we cannot run these awards without your support, it is very much appreciated.”