Heroes from across the Borough shared their stories of courage and determination at a glittering award ceremony on 19th January.
The Local Heroes Awards, organised by the Gazette and Uxbridge College, are a chance for the spotlight to be shone on people who put others first, or have triumphed over adversity.
The overall winner, crowned Hero of Hillingdon, was Perry Parsons who has inspired young musicians to explore their talents in the popular Vyners Swing Band and raised nearly £77,000 for charity.
The history teacher, who also directs and conducts the band, has taught at Vyners School in Warren Road, Ickenham, since 1968. He said it was a moving experience to win at the gala evening.
He picked up a cheque for £750 after winning the Community and Fundraising Hero category, as well as the overall prize, and said the money would go straight into the Band.Mr Parsons, 60, said: "It was a very moving evening for me. My mind could hardly take in what was going on. I slept for less than an hour, the adrenalin just would not stop."
Mr Parsons formed the Vyners Swing Band, made up of pupils at the school, in 1988 and has conducted more than 430 concerts.
Charities, which have benefited over the years, include Michael Sobell House in Northwood, Age Concern Hillingdon, Uxbridge Samaritans and Heart of Harefield, the campaign group for Harefield Hospital.
Mr Parsons said: "I must thank the Band for the pleasure they have given so many over the years, and without whose terrific support and commitment, nothing would have been achieved. They are just a delight to work with. They are just amazing."
A second group run by Mr Parsons, called The Perry Parsons Big Band, was formed after pupils refused to stop playing despite leaving the school.
It was originally called the Red Hot Swinging Mullets, but members voted to change the name in honour of their respected teacher.
In a special comment for Ickenham Church News Perry revealed the following:
“It was a very special and emotional evening for me. What made it particularly so was the fact that my family was there - my wife Hilary, my parents, and my daughter, Sam - as well as a twelve-piece band from the VSB. In fact, several of them told me later how privileged they felt to be there at the Award. When I went up for the final ‘Hero’ presentation, I was quite overcome by the cheer the Band gave me. I have since found out that amongst the several people who apparently nominated me for the award, at least one was a member of the VSB.
I didn't tell my parents anything about the nomination. As far as they were concerned they were just coming to hear the VSB at another gig! So it was quite a surprise for them.
I was only allowed three guests, but I was including Sam as a 'roadie' and adult female, though I didn't need either! She ended up playing the baritone sax because the VSB ‘bari’ player, Adam, was singing elsewhere.
Sam plays regularly in the PPBB. My son, Miles, used to play in both the VSB and PPBB, but he now lives in Perth, Australia.”
*In 2005 David Millen won the Community Hero Award and was at this year’s ceremony to present Perry with his award. Good on Ickenham! Who’s next for 2007?
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