VOLUNTEERS, sportspeople, community champions and those who have overcome huge challenges to change lives on the Island have been celebrated at Isle of Wight Radio's Local Heroes Awards.

John Phillips, who founded the charity John’s Club, was named overall hero at the awards ceremony, held at Cowes Yacht Haven on Thursday and hosted by Isle of Wight Radio's Paul Topping and Georgie Carter.

Bullied at school and having spent time in children’s homes, John went on to foster more than 80 children and support hundreds of people through the Ryde charity.

The inspirational young person award was presented to Verity Baird. Fostered at seven years old, and unable to read or write, Verity has become an accomplished violinist and sailor, with a first-class honours degree in fine art.

She has spoken at parliament to children in care and is currently studying for a masters degree — the first young person fostered in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight to have studied at such a high level.

The best neighbour award was won by Sandown’s Pauline Evans, who helps her neighbours out with DIY to gardening.

Wight SAR, which carries out life-saving search and rescue missions, won the emergency services award, and Welcome to the Isle of Wight singer Derek Sandy won the tourism ambassador award after capturing the nation's imagination with his appearance on Britain’s Got Talent earlier this year.

The sporting achievers award went to the Island Games team, who returned from Gibraltar with 34 medals, including 11 gold. The Island Games Association’s deputy chair Kevin Winchcombe, and medal winners Danny Burns, Charlie Metcalfe and Abi Lacey, collected the award on behalf of Team Isle of Wight.

The customer service award was presented to the 'most talented, kindest and hard-working' Vera Mircescu, who has transformed the Mountbatten cafe and provides people with their final meals.

Kathryn Grimes, who founded the Wight Brainy Bunch with her husband, Ryde firefighter Mark Grimes, after he was diagnosed with a brain tumour, won the fundraiser award. The charity has raised more than £100,000 for Isle of Wight families.

The inspirational leader award went to beach soccer's Luke Kerr, and the award for making a difference in the community was presented to Dot Perrett, who volunteers at homeless shelters and knits hats and scarves for people living on the streets.

Liz Bell, who founded the Isle of Wight Asthma Swim Group, won the lifetime achievement award.

There were two winners of the volunteer award — Jackie Ramage, 86, who volunteers at the St Mary’s Hospital cafe, and Hugh Griffiths, who runs Newclose Cricket Ground.

The carer award went to the team at Care in the Garden, which provides horticultural training opportunities to people with learning disabilities.

Isle of Wight Radio managing director Claire John said: "Our deserving and amazing Isle of Wight Radio Local Heroes are inspirational people who have transformed not only their own lives but those of Islanders too.

"We’re always inspired by their determination and dedication. They really do make the Isle of Wight the truly amazing community that we know and love.”

John Irvine, chief executive of headline sponsor WightFibre, said: "This is the sixth year WightFibre has sponsored Isle of Wight Radio’s Local Heroes Awards. It's all about recognising people who care and do something exceptional.

"WightFibre really cares about our customers and we are delighted to join Isle of Wight Radio once again, to celebrate Island people, who also care and go the extra mile in their contribution to the community.”