VOLUNTEERING charity Engage has been celebrating the contribution that volunteers are making in their communities across Taunton Deane and West Somerset.

The Volunteers of the Year for 2018 were named at awards ceremonies, timed to coincide with National Volunteers Week.

In Taunton Deane, the celebration took place on Wednesday, June 6, at the North Street Church.

The award for Volunteer Group of the Year went to the Taunton Running Club volunteers and was given by Mayor of Wellington, Cllr Gary James.

The individual Volunteer of the Year 2017 for Taunton Deane was named as Caroline Norfolk.

Caroline volunteers for the Back-Up trust and was nominated by Charlie Fraser. The Back-Up trust exists to support everyone affected by spinal cord injury; the injured person, their family and their friends. Caroline trained as a mentor for the charity in 2011.

Caroline went on to receive the accolade of Overall Volunteer of the Year 2018 for Taunton Deane.

In West Somerset the ceremony was held at Minehead’s Beach Hotel on Friday 8 June.

The award for the Volunteer Group of the Year 2018 went to Minehead Hospital Volunteers. These volunteers provide a caring wellbeing service to patients in all departments in Minehead Hospital. Their support to patients and staff includes running a hospital trolley scheme, which provides not only daily essentials but also vital human contact to patients who might not otherwise see anyone other than staff.

The Minehead Hospital Volunteers received their group award from Minehead’s deputy mayor, Cllr. Gail Everett.

The Environmental Award, sponsored by Exmoor National Park, went to the Exmoor Mires Group volunteers.

The individual Volunteer of the Year 2018 for West Somerset was named as Julian Luke, who was described as “the main man in keeping Minehead’s museum running”. Julian, who received eight separate nominations, was prominent in setting-up the museum four years ago and gives his time and energy to the project.

One of his nominators said: “His enthusiasm is infectious.

"He turned what was a small room behind the visitor centre at the Beach Hotel into a successful museum”

He also won overall Volunteer of the Year 2018 for West Somerset.