See inspirational Stars of Suffolk winners honoured at Trinity Park awards ceremony
PUBLISHED: 08:00 10 November 2017
The inspiring finalists of the Stars of Suffolk awards gathered last night for a glittering ceremony at Trinity Park, near Ipswich.
Nominations for the prestigious awards opened in April when people were asked to nominate people or groups who had gone out of their way to make Suffolk a better place to live.
A total of 41 candidates were shortlisted, with hundreds of nominations having been received, and 18 awards were presented including a number of special and surprise categories.
The Stars of Suffolk awards honour people of a range of ages and from different walks of life; from community cafes to emergency service heroes and outstanding charity volunteers.
But here could only be one Overall Star of Suffolk – and that was 15-year-old Eve Brooks-Parkin from Sudbury, who also took home the Young Person award.
Eve was nominated for her tireless charity efforts, having volunteered with the Eden-Rose Coppice Trust since she was 10-years-old. The trust uses woodlands in Sudbury and Ipswich as a sanctuary for patients with physical or mental health problems.
Eve has also spent her free time during school holidays at the charity’s holiday clubs helping improve their mental attitude.
It is thought Eve’s efforts have helped around 240 children – some with profound learning difficulties – to boost their self esteem.
After receiving the award, Eve said: “The work I do in the woodland, I don’t see it as anything incredible or special.
“It means a lot because I didn’t think anyone would notice.
“It’s nice to know that someone has been looking out.”
Among the other winners on the night was Shaun Whiter who took the Judges’ Special award.
Shaun was about to join Newmarket Town FC in July 2016 when he was hit by a car. His injuries were so bad, doctors were forced to amputate both his legs.
Shaun has since impressed doctors with his ability to recover and the speed with which he has taken to using his prosthetic legs.
Buoyed by the support he received during his own recovery, Shaun decided to take part in the ITFC Tour of Suffolk bike ride by using a hand cycle.
The 28-year-old was part of the more than 100 strong team which took part in the event in May this year, helping to raise money for the air ambulance.
Shaun’s determination also saw him succeed in walking unaided down the aisle to marry his fiancée Charlotte in July.
Shaun, who couldn’t make the ceremony but sent a message via video link, said: “Thank you for this award, it’s a massive honour.
“My journey has been crazy. It’s been up and down. We have had a lot of tears but I have got there and I have achieved what I wanted to achieve which is walking down the aisle for my wedding. Everybody here deserves a round of applause for what they have done.”
The Unsung Hero of the Year award went to charity fundraiser and folk musician Mat Bayfield, who is one half of the Broadside Boys. The Framlingham man was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour in 2012 and spent a long time in Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge.
Mat decided to set up long walks through the Suffolk countryside to help him lose weight and raise money for charity.
Since then Mat’s Walk and Talk challenge has grown from just 16 walkers to over 500 and has helped to raise £20,000 for the Brain Tumour Charity.
Mat, who was in Addenbrooke’s the night before the awards, said: “The brain tumour has unfortunately returned and
I’m about to embark on chemotherapy.
“My journey is still going on and I have to tell everyone out there to forget the word stress.
“What we have got here tonight, there’s some wonderful people around this room that can make a difference.”
He said of his brain tumour, which he has called Brian:
“Brian is not going to win this game”.
Mat had the audience on its feet when he revealed he had asked his long term partner, Kelly Pritchard, to be his wife.
One of the biggest surprises of the evening was for Diana Porter, chief executive and founder of charity Fresh Start – new beginnings.
Diana set up the Suffolk based charity in 2012 to support children and young people who have been sexually abused.
She used her own redundancy pay to set up the service which has since helped more than 900 people across Suffolk, Norfolk and north Essex.
Diana has worked with children and families for 40 years both in England and Africa. During this time she specialised in child protection and has worked with a number of charities.
Letters of support from people who have been helped by Diana and her team were read out at the ceremony.
One said: “You gave us back our hope and our daughter ... Diana you are exceptional.”
Diana said: “The kids are fantastic, what they have been through and how they come back ... we are a positive charity – there is life after sexual abuse.”
See Monday’s edition for a special eight page pull out on the awards ceremony.