GLASGOW'S Winter Gardens lit up as the first Streets Ahead winners were crowned.

Cheers and applause rang out through the historic glasshouse at a ceremony to mark the culmination of the campaign's first successful year.

More than 200 people cheered as Sighthill Community Council was crowned best community initiative and overall winner at the event, organised in conjunction with Clean Glasgow.

A delighted Elaine Mackenzie Ellis, actress and community campaigner, accepted the awards on behalf of residents.

She said: "It's like a dream. We were excited just to be here, but to win this prestigious prize, surrounded by so many lovely people in such a wonderful setting, is unbelievable.

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"Streets Ahead has restarted the heartbeat of communities others have given up on – it is a fantastic campaign and we are proud to be part of it."

Sighthill Community Council was praised by judges for its work in organising clean-ups, litter-picking campaigns, introducing recycling initiatives and events, breathing life into the area.

Representatives from Streets Ahead partners Glasgow City Council, Clean Glasgow, Glasgow Housing Association, Strathclyde Fire and Rescue and City Charitable Trust presented the awards, with lively dance group Dance UK providing the entertainment.

Neighbours Mary Graham and Alex Cook, from Yoker, won the best garden category after their efforts outside their own homes inspired the whole street to clean up its act.

Mary, 67, said: "I'm amazed that I'm an inspiration to others – I just do it because I enjoy gardening. I'm over the moon and right into outer space to have won."

The trophy for best clean-up campaign went to The Clean Green Team, a group of Czech, Slovak and Romanian Roma residents, who have just completed a 12-week programme of street cleaning, waste uplift and tree-planting in Govanhill.

Founder member Marcela Adamova said: "It is very good to have won, not just for us, but for the whole community as it will help spread the message that the Roma community is doing its best to improve things for all."

Woodlands Community Garden, a flourishing resource which has encouraged local people to take pride in their environment and reduce their carbon footprint, was named best environmental initiative.

Mark Hesling, chairman of the Woodland Community Development Trust, which administers the garden, said: "Tonight is not really about winning or losing, it's just a really nice event to be part of. We're delighted."

The winner of the best community garden category, one of the most hotly contested of the evening, was Roots of Ruchill. From planting days for families and sign-making workshops to carol-singing and arts and crafts, this project has become a hub for everyone in the area.

Eleanor Brown, who helped to set up the project in January, said: "It means a lot just to be here – it's wonderful."

Arlene Marsella – a Planet Champion at McDonald's – and Dell Computers each impressed the judges so much they could not decide between them and they were named joint winners of the Green Glasgow Business Award.

Arlene, who rallied staff, school children and residents to take part in community clean-ups, said: "It's great to be part of Streets Ahead, to see so many local groups doing their best to make a difference."

Staff at Dell Computers helped Swinton Primary school children return a disused garden, which had become cluttered and overgrown with rubbish, to its former glory.

Community team manager Lindsay Hood said: "We're ecstatic – Dell has won business-related awards before but this is the Glasgow team's first environmental and community one, so it is very special."

The award for best school went to Kelvindale Primary, where pupils helped to organise a community clean-up, an anti-litter poster campaign with local shopkeepers and grew their own organic fruit and vegetables which they donated to a nearby care home.

Ailsa MacFarlane, 9, said: "I was really surprised we won but it's great. All our hard work was worth it."

Depute head teacher Barbara Matheson said: "I think it's great that the Evening Times, through Streets Ahead, is able to thank all the wonderful groups in Glasgow who try so hard to make the city a better place."

Tony Carlin, Evening Times editor, said: "Streets Ahead struck a chord with communities in every corner of the city. It inspired people, fired imaginations, brought neighbours together and encouraged everyone, young and old, to work towards a common goal – to build a better Glasgow.

"With the help of our partners, Clean Glasgow, Strathclyde Fire and Rescue, the City Charitable Trust and Glasgow Housing Association, the Evening Times was able to support and develop existing projects and kick-start many new ones.

"All of our finalists are excellent examples of what Streets Ahead set out to achieve. All of them are winners. It has been a fantastic night."