HUNDREDS of people packed into Winchester’s Great Hall on Saturday (March 1) for an ‘awe-inspiring’ evening.

From students who give up their free time to help inmates at Winchester Prison, to those who work tirelessly at the Winchester’s night shelter for the homeless, the evening was dedicated to those who make ‘an outstanding contribution’ to communities across Hampshire.

More than 250 people gathered for The High Sheriff of Hampshire’s Community Awards, where Winchester individuals to be honoured were Anji Palmer Clarke, at Winchester Area Community Action; Isobel Hughes, at Winchester Young Carers Project; Julie Roberts, at the Theatre Royal; and three students at the University of Winchester — Charlotte Gould Smith, Darcie Jackson and Mollee Vasey — recognised for their work on a play put on with inmates at the prison.

Julie, 37, of Chesil Mews, who works for free at the Theatre Royal as an usher, was put forward for her award by colleagues.

“It was awe-inspiring really.

“I’m somebody who can’t say no, so when I was asked to do all sorts of weird and wonderful things I just agreed!” she said.

Spurgeons Invisible Walls Service, which works with Winchester Prison and supports families affected by imprisonment, is one of two charities recognised, with Winchester Churches Nightshelter the other.

Kerry longhorn, of Spurgeons, said: “We were absolutely thrilled to have the work recognised. Supporting prisoner’s families is not something that is in the public eye, so we were very pleased.”

Mary Dawson, who chairs the panel of judges for the Winchester district, said: “The evening was about rewarding people who give of their time so freely and one of the things that came across was just how much work is done by volunteers and I think we take it for granted.”

High Sheriff, Rupert Younger, set the awards a priority at the start of his one-year term in office.

He said: “It was a great celebration of the amazing work of volunteers in the community – fantastic and very inspiring. I was struck by the spread of volunteer activities.”