But he added: "Whether you win or not, you are all winners to me."
A group of four Plymouth City Council refuse collectors won a special Good Deed award after they befriended a Plymstock boy.
One of the men, Russell Weeks, said afterwards: "We are not really looked upon as being frontline staff, but this shows we are.
"Everybody thinks we're grumpy and moody, but we're not really."
The audience at the gala evening was entertained by singer/songwriter Josie Newton, dancers Active Steps from the Elder Tree Foundation, and poet Matt Harvey.
The third annual Inspiring Volunteering Awards, was organised by a partnership of The Herald, Plymouth Guild and the University of Plymouth. James Garnett, Herald news editor and one of the judges for last night's awards, said the event had attracted scores of entries.
He said: "The quality of the entries this year was outstanding, and the judges had a hard time deciding which individuals should win.
"It shows that Plymouth is an incredibly giving city with people only too willing to help out and make a real difference to the lives of others."
Simon De Groot, manager of Plymouth Guild and one of the judges, said: "Throughout its 104-year history the Guild has had volunteers and the people of the city at its core. These awards are an opportunity to acknowledge and recognise people who make a contribution to their neighbours and communities.
"Their efforts are given freely and without the motivation of personal gain, and that is what the guild is all about."
Tracy Wilson, Plymouth University's head of corporate marketing, said: "We have a strong commitment to volunteering within the student community. We have students who volunteer on a regular basis."
Cllr Edward Delbridge, the deputy Lord Mayor, praised the sponsors of the awards and thanked the university for the help and support it gave the city council.
Sponsors: Plymouth City Council Youth Service (Young Volunteer of the Year awards).
The Innovation School (Turning Point Award).
Plymouth Guild (Long Term Commitment to Volunteering).
Plymouth Hope Football Club (Sports Volunteer of the Year).
Plymouth University (Social Enterprise Volunteer of the Year).
Plymouth Rotary Club (Paul Harris Fellowship Award).
Groundwork Trust (Environmental Volunteer of the Year).
The Herald (Volunteer Team of the Year, Good Deed).