In recent times the Proud of Barnsley Awards has become a focal point of the year.
Previous finalists and winners are proof of everything that is good about Barnsley and is rightly a cause of celebration.
The 2014 Finalists List has now been issued.
Running down the list the eye is drawn to a name in the Hospital Hero category.
Not only is this lady 80 years old but she has served as a Volunteer at the Breast Unit at Barnsley Hospital for 20 years!
So, who is Joan Gough?
Barnsley News and Sport set out to find out.
The first thing that springs to mind with Joan is to ask her for her birth certificate.
This petite and elegant lady makes her age bracket look effortless and she would readily be taken to be 20 years younger.
Whatever the formula for such youthful appearance, we could all benefit from it.
Well spoken, you would be hard pressed to Imagine Joan to be a local girl.
Perhaps she had the benefit of landing here for some reason?
Joan has nothing of this, expressing a fierce love of belonging to Barnsley, her natural home and the place she loves.
She is indeed a Barnsley lass, born at Barnsley Hospital.
Even more remarkable is the fact that she has lived in one street all of her life, Burton Road.
It’s true that there have been three houses, but they stretch no further than six houses apart
Even her schooldays began at Burton Road and she began her working life at Barnsley Co-Op.
Is she surprised at being in the final?
“It hasn’t dawned on me properly yet but think of it as a privilege to represent everyone who gives time as a Volunteer. I work with dedicated people and my part is very small. I guess my contribution is that people get to see a friendly face and if that’s helped someone during a period of great anxiety, its reward enough. I am certainly no hero”.
Joan admits that the trigger to volunteer came as a result of the death of her husband, Ralph, who served as a leading ambulance man in the town.
“The deep sadness that results threatens to engulf you every day and volunteering was the outlet that gave me a way of being useful and holding onto something positive. Thinking about the needs of others stops you dwelling on your own problems”, she says wisely.
It’s clear that Joan does not see herself as a hero but there is no doubting she has those rare qualities of kindness and care that people feel reassured by.
She may not see herself as Barnsley’s best, but there’s no doubting she wants the best for Barnsley and those visiting hospital.
There’s no prospect of Joan stepping back from her volunteer role and she says with a cheeky smile: “I will carry on as long as I can but don’t be shy, come and join us. There can never be enough volunteers and it’s very rewarding emotionally”.
You half expect her to pull out the form and say “just sign here”.
What a fine ambassador Joan is for Barnsley Hospital and you can’t help thinking the role of recruiting sergeant may yet come her way.
Born in the town’s hospital, marrying an ambulanceman and serving in the hospital for twenty years suggests a huge connection and affinity to that place.
It’s easy to have a soft spot for this lady and she would be a worthy winner for dedication alone.
The awards dinner takes place at Holiday Inn in November and we will be holding our breath when the Hospital Hero category is announced.
It would be a fitting outcome that Joan Gough is Proud of Barnsley 2014 winner of Hospital Hero.
Even without this, the high regard she is held in already makes her a hero for many.
Keith Binney – Athlete and volunteer Keith Binney has worked with athletics clubs across Yorkshire. He is now a track and field mentor with Barnsley Athletics Club.
Tom Glenn – Tom ensures those struggling to afford food have something to eat and encourages people to give whatever they can, which is then donated to the foodbank at Gateway Church.
Charles Wilkins – Charles has been involved in scouting since he was nine. He has been a scout leader for more than 50 years.
Martin Dainty – The former cyclist for Great Britain set up a cycling team to raise money for cystic fibrosis after his daughter Molly was born with the condition. It is on its way to raising £50,000.
Daniel Moxon – Leukaemia sufferer ‘Super’ Dan Moxon has been posthumously nominated. He was given ‘months to live’ last year but died on June 6, 2014 aged 24. Dan jumped 15,000ft out of a plane to raise money for the Teenage Cancer Trust.
Louisa Youle – Following the death of her son Jaxon in October 2012, Louisa raised more than £7,000 to create ‘Forget Me Not’ boxes – which help provide bereaved parents and siblings with memories of their loved one.
Jane Robinson – Jane is a a special educational needs co-ordinator at Hoyland Common primary.
Zoe Dransfield – Barnsley Hospice worker Zoe helps struggling children and young people between the ages of five and 18 to deal with the grief and loss of a loved one.
Helen Wright – A scout leader for cubs, Helen not only had the idea to bring back scouts to Goldthorpe after a 12-year absence, she ensured it would happen.
Live In Barnsley – Organisers Dave Pearsall, Steve Clifford and John Backhouse and their volunteers have been nominated for pulling together the one day festival which saw more than 100 bands and musicians play across dozens of town centre venues.
Exodus project – The Exodus Project works in some of the neediest parts of the borough with children aged eight to 15 to help raise their self esteem and realise their future aspirations.
HAVS – The Help Advice Volunteers Service (HAVS) has helped hundreds of workers claim compensation for mining related injuries as well as other people who have suffered an industrial disease caused by their occupation.
Athersley Rec – had the best night in its history when it won the Sheffield Senior Cup at Hillsborough in May and the team has also competed in the FA Cup.
Shaw Lane Aquaforce – The team got its third consecutive promotion to the Northern Counties East League, the same division as Athersley Rec.
Elsecar Cricket Club – The club won the Black Sheep Trophy or Yorkshire Championship, making it officially the best team in Yorkshire.
Luke Cutts – Pole vaulter Luke, from Thurnscoe, won silver at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in August.
Josh Wale – The boxer from Brampton is getting ever closer to becoming only the third Barnsley man to become British champion.
Martyn Moxon – The Barnsley man coach Yorkshire CCC to its first County Championship title since 2001 this year.
Josh Bates – Speedway starlet Josh stormed to the biggest win of his fledgling career by becoming the first Barnsley person to win the British under 21 crown.
Rosie Clarke – When her dad collapsed at home, Rosie took control of the situation patting her dad’s back and following instructions while reassuring her mother and calming her two younger sisters.
Ellie Taylor – Ellie was hailed a hero after leading her family to safety when a fire broke out at their Oakwell home.
Barnsley Youth Choir – The choir competed against some of the world’s best at the World Choir Games in Riga, winning first place gold in pop and second place gold in gospel.
Harshad Patel – Harshad has dedicated the last 35 years to taking on voluntary roles and raising money.
Karl Cooper – Karl has been supporting and caring for people living with HIV for more than 25 years.
Stacey Vose – Stacey fought to become the legal guardian of her nephew Leland, who is almost 11 months old, while also bringing up her four children – Carson, Harvey, Bailey and Troy.
Christine Morris – Christine fostered many children and babies who may never have had a chance of a normal start in life.
Sarah Nuttall – Sarah has legal custody of her brother’s son Caydn after his mother died a few years ago.
Triumph over Adversity
Samantha Williamson – despite suffering from cerebral palsy, severe epilepsy and asthma, Samantha works four days a week as a volunteer at Greenacre school supporting pupils who have special educational needs.
Glen Taylor- Glen overcame a double transplant and the sudden death of his brother to win a host of medals at the British Transplant Games.
Richard Lindley – A member of Barnsley Golf Club, Richard was left paralysed following a a terrible road accident. He was told he may never walk again, but walked out of hospital unaided only 49 days later.
Ian Pratt – Ian was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease in September 2012 and has raised great awareness of the condition.
Chemotherapy, Ward 24 – nominated by Pamela Brown for the ‘fantastic and amazing care’ given to her husband Harry who was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma in January.
Gynaecology, Ward 14 – Nominated by several readers for the excellent care and kindness shown to thousands of women who visit the department.
Joan Gough – 80-year-old Joan has served as a volunteer at the hospital’s breast unit for more than 20 years.
Doncaster Road School – the school was put forward for making rapid improvement after being placed in special measures. It is out of special measures and on its way to being judged ‘good’ by Ofsted.
Springwell Community School – Springwell provides cross-phase education for children with emotional, social and behavioural difficulties.
Greenfield School – nominated by Roger Keddy who said staff are highly skilled enthusiastic and have the capacity to inspire, motivate and act as good role models to the children and parents alike.
Smart Door Solutions – The company was founded by Lee Steele in the back of a van which he bought with money he had to borrow from his mother. He now has three members of staff.
Pickerings – Stephanie Tue opened two florists and won an award at the Chelsea Flower Show – all by the age of 20.
Strawberry Secret Vintage Tea Room – Charissa Hambleton organises events at a secret location which is revealed only after tickets have been purchased.