MyMirfield Awards 2016: Highe point for winner Derek

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A MyMirfield Awards winner stole the show as he paid an emotional tribute to his late friend in his acceptance speech.

Derek Highe won the Community Event or Attraction category for his dazzling display of Christmas lights on Robin Royd Avenue, and dedicated the award to his neighbour Bob Swailes, who passed away in 2008.

Bob and Derek worked together to decorate their homes for charity and one of his dying wishes was that the Highes would carry on the 12-year-old tradition.

“Bob told me on his deathbed to keep doing the lights, so I dedicated it to him. It was an emotional speech, but I was prepared to say something about him if I won,” said cabinet maker Derek.

“I never realised how big it was or how much it means to so many people. I was thrilled to bits to win and it was an amazing night. I didn’t think we had a chance of winning!”

Derek has promised ‘bigger things’ for this year’s display after a rain-interrupted 2015.

“The MyMirfield awards are a fantastic thing - it’s great that a lot of people are recognised,” added Derek, who is currently in training for a 200-mile bike ride in aid of the Yorkshire Air Ambulance.

First-time nominees Millie and Bertie’s were also celebrating after the traditional childrenswear and toy shop scooped the coveted Retail Business of the Year title.

“We felt really proud and privileged to be nominated - there are a lot of really nice shops in Mirfield. We were so surprised to win - Sowerby Brothers have been in the town a long time and we didn’t think we’d be chosen above them, and Mirfield News are very well thought-of. We had tough competition!” said owner Donna Coe, who lives in Earlsheaton.

Judges read out comments from the public, who praised the shop’s customer service, choice of products and reasonable pricing.

“We’re hoping that we can use this award to promote ourselves and that it will have a really positive effect. It would be good if people who already use us recognise us as award winners and if we get some new customers in.”

The business has been open for two years now and Donna believes it offers something different to families in the district.

“We are locally unique. The awards ceremony was a really good night and it was lovely to mix with fellow business owners - it was nice to spend time with like-minded people.”

An incredible 15,000 Mirfield residents voted in the awards, and two categories were so close that less than 10 votes separated the winner and runner-up. The presentation night at Sands Lane Golf Club raised enough money for MyMirfield to fund the purchase of a second defibrillator for the town.

“The most popular winner was probably Derek Highe - he had the whole place on their feet!” said organiser Richard Hartley.

“We would like to thank everyone who nominated and voted, the winners and finalists for making Mirfield special, those that donated to the raffle and auction and the golf club for helping host the event.”

Other winners included members of the local branch of the Royal British Legion, who were given the Special Recognition Award for organising the largest Remembrance Day parade outside of London.