A 16-YEAR-OLD who started her own karate club for low-income families and a communal garden created by neighbours to share and enjoy good weather are among the winners of a new council housing awards.

Residents who receive support from Denbighshire County Council’s (DCC) Housing services such as council housing, benefits and older people’s accommodation have worked to improve their homes and neighbourhoods through a range of volunteer efforts.

The first ever Denbighshire Housing Tenants Awards marked the achievements of such individuals and groups, who have used their spare time to improve DCC housing across the county over the last year. Awards for eight categories including communal garden, community project and young tenant of the year were given during the ceremony at the 1891 restaurant, Rhyl on Wednesday, May 8.

The winners included the Trem Y Foel Residents Association in Ruthin, who received the communal garden of the year award after working together planting various bright and seasonal plants, ornaments, hanging baskets to create a space that can be shared and enjoyed.

The tenant of the year was Angela Carrington-Roberts, whose garden has been part of the National Garden Scheme through which she has allowed visitors to experience her garden while raising money for health charities. Angela is also environmentally aware, recycling rainwater and making her own compost.

Friends of Pengwern, Llangollen were awarded the community project of the year for helping the Clywdian Range and Dee Valley AONB’s Nature for Health scheme with activities such as dry-stone walling, community woodland planting and willow weaving.

The housing resident group of the year was the Marsh Community Association in Rhyl who run the Phoenix Centre to create a safe space for residents to take part in activities such as homework club, movie nights, gardening and job club. The group's chair, Gina Jones, was given the Denbighshire Housing Award for her role in turning the centre into a thriving community hub.

Stuart Nield-Siddall was awarded tenant of the year fafter overcoming challenges in his personal life to live independently and contribute to his community in Rhyl, volunteering at Coronation Gardens and the Golf Club. Stuart also enjoys self-development classes such as cooking.

Bethan Owen was the young tenant of the year, starting a karate club at the age of 16 to give low-income families the chance to learn the martial art and develop life skills. The club offers families a weekly meeting place to meet and improve their fitness. Bethan is also a police cadet and has enjoyed national success, winning the Under 16 Female UK Martial Arts competition and the Prime Minister’s Point of Light Award. She has also been entered into the UK Hall of Fame.

DCC also awarded its own winner, Shirley Rippingale, Denbighshire Housing customer service of the year, who recently retired as a DCC warden after increasing community engagement by organising activities and aiming to give access to all residents. Shirley has lived in sheltered housing for 18 years and upon her retirement was described by the council as “always going above and beyond in everything she did”.

Jamie Groves, DCC head of facilities, assets and housing, said: “We were honoured to host the first ever award ceremony, to recognise and celebrate the achievements of our tenants.

“There are some great examples of tenants making efforts to look after their properties, as well as some exemplar community projects that help improve the life of residents living in their community.

“Their hard work, commitment, drive and amazing efforts help the housing team to provide a great service to tenants."