Winners and guests alike were humbled by the inspirational tales that emerged from last night’s Merton Civic Awards.

Double award winner Gordon Samuel honoured his wife Avril, who nominated him, for her work alongside him as part of the Katie Haines Memorial Trust.

It was set up in memory of their daughter Katie and raises awareness of the dangers of ‘silent killer’ carbon monoxide poisoning.

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Hannah Pettit, a friend of the late Katie Haines, collects Gordon Samuel's award

Dozens of finalists packed into the Antoinette Hotel in Wimbledon’s Broadway last night for the celebration, which saw guests enjoy canapés and drinks before being invited into the ceremony to find out who had won and been commended in each category.

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Beautiful acoustic entertainment was provided by South Thames College music students Becka Man, 19, and Keri Narine, 22, in between presentation of the awards. They are pictured below.

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A popular raffle raised £236 for Merton Centre for Independent Living and Friends in St Helier, the mayor of Merton’s charities.

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The mayor, Councillor David Chung, was on hand to present his overall award to Gordon Samuel, who was not able to make it.

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Assistant editor and host of the awards, Nick Hitchens, with the mayor of Merton Councillor David Chung

Hannah White, who won the Arts and Entertainment category for her work at the Sound Lounge, said: “It feels amazing to be recognised for doing something that means a lot to me.

“I am humbled.

“All the stories are incredible.”

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Hannah White, right, with Jacqui Cleaves

Hannah’s friend Jacqui Cleaves picked up the highly commended award for her extensive volunteer work. She went along with her children who were proud to see their mother being recognised for her tireless dedication to the community.

She said: “It was a lovely evening, we have enjoyed it.”

Paul Kohler, pictured below, won the Act of Courage category after he was attacked in his Wimbledon home by four men last August.

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The courageous way he dealt with the attack and spoke out about it in the local and national media earned him the award, for which he said he was chuffed to receive.

Mr Kohler, whose injuries are no longer visible, said: “There were some really heart-warming stories out there. I am embarrassed to have won.

“The real heroes are the police who rushed into the house not knowing what was going to happen.”

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Paul Kohler, right, with wife Samantha MacArthur and daughter Beth

He said he would put the award in pride of place on the mantelpiece.

As the one year anniversary approaches of the attack on August 11, the family are discussing how to mark it, and plan to take part in a restorative justice programme later this year by meeting one or two of the men jailed in January.

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Best teacher: James Lindsay collects his award from Mitcham and Morden MP Siobhain McDonagh

Richard Ayidah came along to the Civic Awards at the Antoinette Hotel in Wimbledon with his wife and Wimbledon College headteacher Adrian Laing.

Mr Ayidah was happy to be highly commended in the Best Teacher category.

He said: “Second place is not bad.

“It is a pleasure to be commended for something that is your job.

“I am grateful, I wasn’t expecting anything.

“Congratulations to the Guardian for organising it.”

Category winner James Lindsay joked with Mr Ayidah that he would teach him his winning ways but agreed it was great to be recognised for something they loved doing.

He said: “All those brave people do these brave things – we’re just doing our jobs, we love it.”

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Barry Willingham, above left, has been shortlisted in a number of awards previously and joked he was the ‘perpetual bridesmaid’ and never the bride.

He won the Sporting Achievement category for his incredible work at Wimbledon Park Bowls Club.

He attended with friend and colleague Neil Winter.

Mr Willingham, who also won two raffle prizes, said: “It is really good to be the winner.

“I am really happy and proud.

“It is lovely to get recognition and for people to see what we are trying to do.”

Mr Samuel won the highly-coveted Community category and was highly commended in the Act of Courage category as well.

Hannah Pettit collected the three awards on behalf of Mr Samuel. She was a close friend of Mrs Haines from the age of seven, when they met at Brownies.

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She said: “Katie would have been so proud of her father. What he went through, no parent should ever have to go through. After she died, he set up the trust and it was a way for him to focus his grief.

"He was determined that no other family should have to go through what they went through.”

Mr Samuel, founder of the Katie Haines Memorial Trust, said in a statement: “Thank you so much for this award and recognising the work that’s been done by The Katie Haines Memorial Trust, of which I am a Trustee.

“Although the award is given to me, I must stress that it is my wife Avril who has been equally active in promoting the awareness of accidental poisoning by carbon monoxide.

“We tragically lost our wonderful daughter Katie, aged 31, to this ‘silent killer’.

“Katie’s life was taken on February 18 2010, just over one month after returning from her honeymoon.

“The lethal fumes were emitted from her domestic boiler, which malfunctioned – her husband Richard found her and he and his parents were all affected by CO but survived.

“We have made it our mission since Katie’s death to prevent other needless tragedies.

“A carbon monoxide alarm is a small device costing £12-20, a small cost but might save your life and those you love.”

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Nicola Forbes, above, was studying to be a social worker at university when she developed a pulmonary embolism.

Despite being a single mum to five children since the death of her husband, she said she couldn’t stand not working, so she started volunteering because she could fit it in between her hospital appointments.

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Merton Council leader Stephen Alambritis 

Mrs Forbes has since recovered from her illness, but chooses to devote her life to volunteering - as a child advocate for vulnerable children with Jigsaw4u and as a member of the domestic violence team at Home-Start Merton.

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She said: “I’m so pleased. I’m surprised, but really happy about it. I got into volunteering because of my illness but I started to enjoy it more and more and it’s changed my whole career path. I’m more busy than when I was working but I’m also more satisfied.”

For the full list of winners, see here.

Want a copy of the photographs? Order them here.