A HOST of people each with stories of bravery, commitment and self-sacrifice had their turn in the spotlight as winners and finalists in the Community Inspiration Awards 2011.

Social housing landlord Luminus, in conjunction with The Hunts Post, organised the inaugural awards ceremony at Brook House on Friday to honour those people who have made a difference to their communities and inspired others.

Among the winners was Alison Watson, founder of Small Steps - a group for parents of young children with Down's Syndrome - and Georgina Corley, secretary of the Eynesbury Village Association, who has battled to walk again after suffering a debilitating back condition.

Mark Underwood and Christine Cahill were also honoured for the help they give to their neighbour and 15-year-old Amy Hogg was awarded for the time she spends with sister Louise, who has Down's Syndrome.

June Wilson, president of Brampton Day Care Scheme was given the Community Achievement award for her work helping elderly people.

Luminus boss Chan Abraham said: "At Luminus we are committed to help change the world where we are as we seek to progress on our Road to Renewal.

"These wonderful local people have shown how it is possible to make the difference where they are, inspiring others, overcoming difficulties and supporting some of the most vulnerable members of society.

"We are delighted that, in partnership with our sponsors, we have been able to celebrate their achievements and encourage other people to follow their example.

"The Luminus Community Inspiration Awards were a great success and we hope to continue recognising local people's success next year."

When Mark Underwood first moved into his Stibbington home 12 years ago, neighbour Mary Morley made him feel welcome.

Now Mary is suffering with an illness and needs constant medical care, the carpenter, along with partner Christine Cahill have made it their priority to look after her.

From giving her practical help like gardening and decorating to taking her on day trips and doctor's appointments, they ensure they are always on hand.

Alison Watson, 39, of Claytons Way, Huntingdon, set up Small Steps after her fourth child Freya was born with Downs Syndrome.

Now aged three, Freya is a much-loved member of the family and Alison is keen to share her experience with other mums in similar situations.

On winning the inspirational parent award, Alison said: "We are so pleased that even in today's world, there is a company prepared to recognise that there are people with a sense of community spirit and pride.

"It was lovely to be involved in a celebration of Huntingdonshire at its best and not only that but to win an award, I feel, on behalf of all the children and parents at Small Steps."

Hinchingbrooke School student Amy Hogg, 15, takes it as a matter of course that she cannot go to parties and may not be able to stay late.

The Godmanchester teenager has always been happy to help to care for her disabled sister, Louise, 16, who has Down's syndrome. Amy, of Orchard Way, was awarded the perseverance among young people award.

Her mum Debbie Gilbert said: "I am so proud of her. She is such a help to me. All her life, she has had to leave parties early and go home, but she has never complained."

Seven years ago it looked like Georgina Corley would never walk again when a back complaint rendered her immobile.

Now, though the 66-year-old only has limited mobility, she is an active member of Eynesbury Village Association, and produces a quarterly newsletter for residents.

She is also a member of Eynesbury Management Advisory Group, co-ordinates the Back to Work scheme in St Neots, and is a member of the town centre initiative.

On being awarded the outstanding leadership award, she said: "I did not expect to be recognised for what I do - it has made it all worthwhile."