Eight pillars of the community were recognised for their contribution to communities in Brighton and Hove in the second Older People’s Day Awards. We report on a special celebration at The Grand hotel Brighton With this year’s theme of Doing Something Different, the aim was to unearth some of the most adventurous, crazy and determined souls in Brighton and Hove.

And as the county celebrated Older People’s Day, the awards ceremony at one of Sussex’s premier hotels commended the work of Brighton and Hove’s 50+ population.

Almost a quarter of Brighton and Hove’s residents are aged 50 or older, and local charity Impact Initiatives, who have run services for older people in the city for more than 20 years, launched a series of events to celebrate age between September 29 and October 5.

One hundred invited guests enjoyed afternoon tea at The Grand and awards were given off the back of a nomination process. The Argus was the media partner for the awards.

The biggest contribution to Health and Wellbeing award was sponsored by Brighton and Hove City Council’s Sports Development team.

Winners were Cliff Rayman, 91, and his wife Dot, 85 from Brighton.

Cliff and Dot have been keeping older people on their toes for more than 20 years, running tea dances in Brighton.

On winning the award, the couple were delighted but quite speechless. Sharing their enthusiasm for music and dancing is something they enjoy doing and didn’t expect any recognition for.

But as the judges said, they quite simply, “inspire everyone they meet.”

Cliff manages the music and Dot is on the door at the Moulsecoombe Hall in Lewes Road, Brighton every Monday and Friday for ballroom, line and sequence dances.

They also run a monthly dance co-ordinated through CSV LifeLines at Patching Lodge in Eastern Road for up to 70 older people.

LifeLines Volunteer Development Officer Gwyn Chanlewis said: ‘We couldn’t do the tea dances without them. People value it, and come from sheltered housing all across Brighton.”

Cliff and Dot met in 1954 outside the Astoria cinema. Cliff had worked in theatres and cinemas since he was 14 and it was love at first sight.

He asked Dot if she’d like to see the film, and invited her to see the original Moulin Rouge.

They will celebrate their diamond wedding next February.

The Biggest Contribution to Business was sponsored by retirement homes company McCarthy and Stone.

Mrs. Ann Menhinick, 66, from Portslade, was recognised for her contribution to the running of a community-based food bank in Portslade.

The Purple People Kitchen is an essential organisation for the most vulnerable, with Ann at its heart, managing the finances and administration.

“The reward from seeing some of these people who come in is wonderful,” said Mrs. Menhinick.

“It’s not only older people that come for help, but families too.

“Hopefully in the four weeks we can give them the respite they need, free from stress and worry, which is so important.

“Some come with nothing at all. We’ve kitted children out with shoes, clothes, books, bedding. They really are desperately in need.”

She has also helped some food bank users who have alcohol and substance abuse problems.

The Biggest Contribution to Education award was sponsored by Newman Business Solutions and presented by David Sainsbury.

Winner Ms Sue Olive, 70, is a former teacher from Hove, who said she felt “so touched, pleased and humbled.”

She set up a language group teaching English as a second language but it soon became an organisation sharing knowledge of computing and cookery “raising people’s confidence”.

She said winning was a great honour, adding: “I have learnt from the women as much as I have given. Life is not a single track.”

The Biggest Contribution to Community award was sponsored by The Argus and presented by Argus editor Michael Beard.

Winner Bert Williams MBE, 71, said his community work keeps him feeling young.

He added: “I don't do it for pay. I just didn’t want to stay indoors under my wife’s feet.” Mr Williams said he is motivated by making history more accessible.

He added: “I am inspired by ordinary, everyday people.”

Through Mr Williams’ work the next generation is learning about the role of black and minority communities in the history of Brighton.

Mr Williams said he enjoys the “lovely reactions from children” when he shares stories.

Mr Williams said he is proud of his award and that it came as a big surprise.

He is now busy planning and organising events for Black History month.

A new award in line with this year’s theme for Older People’s Day – the I Did Something Differnet Award – went to Jon Poland.

At the age of 84, Mr Poland abseiled down the cliffs at Peacehaven and when the judges read the nomination they could not agree more that this definitely was something different. Especially as he had the added pressure of having to get back up to the top.

The 84-year-old from Hove, who works at Sussex County Hospital two days a week, raised more than £500 for the Martlets charity with his challenge.

He said he chose the abseil over a parachute jump.

He said: “I didn’t do a jump when I was 21, so now I’m 84 I’ll stick to abseiling!” He thanked his partner Rita, who accompanied him to the ceremony after allowing him to complete the daredevil stunt.

Judges could not split Bernard Jordan and Sandra Landy, who shared The Courage Award sponsored by Days Out With Brighton and Hove Buses.

Second World War veteran Bernard Jordan was honoured for his incredible disappearing act this June – leaving his Hove care home to attend a D-Day commemoration in France.

The award was shared with Sandra Landy. Councillor Brian Fitch, mayor of Brighton and Hove, collected the award on Mr Jordan’s behalf. Coun Fitch told The Argus he was proud to celebrate a man whose “actions and determination inspired so many in the city, country and across the world.”

“Sandra Landy has shown great courage in her fight with Dementia. Most courageous is her ability to speak about her condition to others. She is admired due her immense knowledge as a pioneer of computers at Brighton University and her determination to keep active memory loss. She is inspiring to all those around her,” he said.

Mrs Landy was recognised for her work in her past professional life and remains widely admired for her pioneering work.

She has been working with the Trust for Developing Communities to design a dementia toolkit to improve the lives of others with the same condition.

She gives regular talks to medical students and professionals on her experiences.

She joked: “I haven’t a clue what I’ve done to get this award but I clearly deserve it.”

She went to the Hove County Grammar School for Girls, now Hove Park School, and went on to read maths at Oxford University.

After a University Post Graduate Diploma in numerical analysis and automatic computing at Cambridge, she took up teaching at what became Brighton University and finished in charge of the Information Systems Division.

Sandra has also been a bridge player for more than 55 years, having started in her school days.

She has represented Great Britain and England in many international events, twice winning the women’s World Championship as well as many European and English Women’s titles.

Barbara and Dennis Trott bagged The Duke of Richmond Award.

The pair aged 73 and 71 have been active in Lower Bevendean, where they are reliable contributors to a host of community activities and are vital contributors to the local health scheme – What the health is going on in Bevendean?

They have also put in tireless work for the local food-bank, community drop-in cafe and support fundraising initiatives.

Mr Trott thanked their team of loyal volunteers. He said: “We’ve never won anything before.”

Mrs. Trott stressed the need for more help in the community, saying “we’d quite like to retire.” She added: “We don’t do this for awards, we do it because we want to”.

The Special Impact Award sponsored by Impact Initiatives was presented by Donna Bailey of Impact and won by Mrs Doris Hill.

Mrs Hill was unable to attend the event as she had a prior engagement. She was represented by Maxine Sale and Barbara Brazier.

Ms Sale, who has lived next door to Mrs Hill for 23 years, described Mrs Hill, 95, of Bevendean as “the most amazing woman I know and an inspiration”.

She makes teas and coffee at the Salvation Army at Bevendean as well as at other events at the centre, such as fetes.

They told me how Mrs Hill is “loved by all and is so very cheery”.

UK Older People’s Day is on October 1 every year to coincide with the UN International Day of Older Persons.

The main aim for the day is to be a celebration of the achievements and contributions that older people make to our society and the economy.

Older People’s Day supports the campaign to challenge negative attitudes and outdated stereotypes.

Events across the country vary from shorter half-day activities to month-long festivals offering many different, and often ongoing, opportunities.

The celebrations and activities also promote healthy life styles, give opportunities to combat loneliness, encourage volunteering and sharing skills with different generations. After all nearly everyone is an Older Person to someone!

Organisers say that joining in a Older People’s Day event is a fantastic chance to meet new people and to try something new.

People taking part were asked to let local media know about events and use logos and banners to spread the word.

They were also asked to add the Older Peoples Day social media icon on Twitter and Facebook accounts.

In 1990, the United Nations General Assembly designated October 1 the International Day of Older Persons. The theme of the 2014 commemoration is promoting a society for all and, in the words of the UN Secretary General, leaving no-one behind.

The world’s population of over 60s is expected to reach 1.4 billion by 2030 and the UN believes they will all have a vital role to play.

In industrialised countries like Britain the old age population has increased over the last decades. In the United States the proportion of people aged 65 or older increased from 4% in 1900 to 12% in 2000.