A PASTOR of a popular church in Abergavenny has explained why he felt it more important now than ever to recognise the town’s heroes.

Chris Vaz, pastor at the Gateway Church, has selected ten people who made a big difference in 2020 – and he had plenty to choose from.

“It wasn’t easy to get it down to ten,” he said. “We actually made it 10 this year instead of the usual six, because there were so many people who deserved recognition.”

Matt Lane, a plumber in the day and DJ by night, was recognised for his efforts in lighting up Llanfoist Bridge with his laser show, his contribution to Abergavenny’s Round Table group, and his efforts to organise Santa’s sleigh rides in December.

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Craig Titchener was recognised for his efforts with the Abergavenny Voice community social media page, which helped to keep the town connected at a particularly lonely time for many.

Trader and town stalwart Paul Cable was honoured for services to the community, keeping spirits high with his brilliant murals, and for raising thousands for charity.

Amanda Jones, assistant operational manager at Nevill Hall Hospital, accepted the community hero award on behalf of all staff at the hospital for their fight against Covid.

Pavinee Taruschio, Cllr Martin Hickman, ‘Abergavenny’s Elvis’ Keith Davies, Morrisons community champion Kelly Radley, Andrew Ewers of the Codfather, and Shane and Kelly Lewis of Lewis’ Taxis were also all recognised for their charitable work helping those hit particularly hard during the pandemic.

“The community heroes awards is something we’ve done for four years but in 2020 it took on even more importance,” Mr Vaz said. “People from all walks of life have really come together, and we felt we needed to push the boat out to showcase that we have people here wanting to help each other get through this together.”

It has been a particularly busy time for the Gateway Church too, who cooked more than 10,000 free meals for the town’s vulnerable, and delivered 1,106 hampers in December, including to care homes and single-parent families.

“It has been a huge honour. People needed our help this year and it’s important we stepped up,” Mr Vaz added.

The town’s mayor Tony Konieczny said the Gateway Church deserves its own recognition for how it has pulled people together.

“We are lucky to have Chris and the church, who have stepped up tremendously, as they do every year,” he said.

“I fear we will be relying on the Gateway, as well as the food bank and other charities, for some time.”