Volunteers from around the region were recognised for their hard work, time and effort at the Volunteer Excellence Awards on Friday night. 

This year saw 19 nominations for Volunteer of the Year, four for Youth Volunteer Award and 14 nominations for the Team Excellence Award.

Margaret Healey was the night's big winner, winning Volunteer of the Year for her work with St Vincent de Paul.

Seventeen years ago, Healey saw an St Vincent de Paul article in the newspaper asking for volunteers and signed up.

She continues to volunteer there today, preparing up to 100 hot meals for people at the St Vincent de Paul centre. She also organises lunches every Friday for 31 schools.

The Youth Award was won by Gary Ho, a refugee support volunteer, nominated by the New Zealand Red Cross.

Ho has helped refugees settle in New Zealand, assisting with language and cultural barriers, and helping them find their own way and establish independence. 

The Team Excellence Award was won by the Age Concern shopping team - around 80 volunteers who help seniors with getting their groceries. 

Runners-up include George Dempsey for Volunteer of the Year, for his work as a puppy raiser for Assistance Dogs New Zealand Trust to help families with children with severe disabilities.

Youth Award runner-up was Eve Boister​, who travels from Cambridge to volunteer at St Vincent de Paul, managing the food van. She makes sure 170 children and adults receive food parcels, sandwiches, fruit and Milo.

Cancer Society's Lions Lodge volunteers were runners-up for the Team Excellence Award. They provide a lodge with a friendly and relaxing environment for people undergoing cancer treatment. 

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