Meet the finalists in this year’s Stars of Suffolk awards
PUBLISHED: 16:11 07 November 2018
It’s the Stars of Suffolk awards on Thursday – one of the highlights of the year in the county. Take a look at the finalists here.
Carer of the Year
Julie Robinson Julie Robinson, who works at the Britten Court care home in Lowestoft, is a carer of exceptional quality and creativity. She goes above and beyond to support the wellbeing of the people at the home. In one particular example, a resident was very ill and no longer able to visit the seaside she loved. So Julie went to the beach to collect, sand, shells and seawater. She even recorded the sounds of the beach – giving a wonderful sensory experience to the resident.
Rosemary & Michael Swann
Rosemary and Michael Swann’s actions make it a pleasure to live in Hurstlea Court sheltered housing scheme in Needham Market. Their nomination says Rosemary is paid as a cleaner, but she does so much more than that. She arranges weekly tea parties, organises quarterly lunches, Friday Bingo and even steps in to help sort the Christmas decorations, while Michael voluntarily works unpaid as the gardener.
Jane Elizabeth Muir
Caring for others is like a second nature to Jane Muir. After the death of her husband at a young age, Jane has been a foster carer for many years – fostering over 50 children. Alongside this, she has raised and supporting her own family. This year Jane’s five-year-old grandaughter was suddenly taken very poorly and has been moved to a hospital in Bristol for a live-saving bone marrow transplant. She has provided her family with huge support during this difficult time.
Young Person of the Year Award
Sixteen-year-old Scott Sexton managed to get excellent GCSE results and secure a place at Kesgrave Sixth Form despite missing months of school as he lost his sight. Already blind in his left eye, Scott started to lose vision in his right eye as well, and ended up missing a substantial amount of school. But this determined, talented teenager worked hard at coming to terms with blindness, and continued to be relentlessly positive in the build up to the exams.
Young Preston Parker has made quite an impact in Shotley. Concerned at what is happening to our environment, he has spent much of his time picking up litter in the village, particularly from the beaches, setting a brilliant example to others. Shotley Parish Council provided support to Preston, and he was interviewed on BBC Radio Suffolk so he could spread the word about how important it is to care at his age.
Profoundly deaf Daniel, from Lowestoft, has gained national attention in his battle with the government to introduce a British Sign Language GCSE. Despite his young age Daniel has continued to knock on doors and take opportunities – including TV interviews – to raise awareness of his battle. He is a young man of rational thinking who carries himself with confidence and a maturity beyond his years.
Outstanding Sporting Achievement of the Year Award
Zoe has been flying the flag for Suffolk and Great Britain for years as a champion powerlifter. In 2018, she secured bronze at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, Australia. This means Ipswich-born Zoe has now won medals at every major games at world, European and Commonwealth level – including twice being a Paralympic bronze medallist.
Ipswich Basketball Women’s Team
Ipswich Basketball Women’s Team is a brilliant Suffolk success story. They had a perfect season, winning National League Division 2 and the Play-off Final plus the National Cup, going undefeated throughout the season. In winning the cup they defeated four Division 1 teams – including the league winners in the final, coming back from 17 points down. Many of the players have been involved in encouraging and promoting basketball in the community and primary schools.
NHS support worker Mandy Harley, from Ipswich, completed seven marathons in seven days after being inspired by a young boy with mitochondrial disease. Mandy decided to take on the huge challenge after being moved by the courage of four-year old Charlie Nicholls, running for the Lily Foundation which helps children like Charlie. She raised a huge amount for the charity, and Charlie’s dad said they were so grateful to her and all the people who have supported them.
Special Recognition of the Year Award
Stephen Laing - Stephen Laing, owner the Queen’s Head in Layham, saved the life of Derek Harrison after he went into cardiac arrest, falling and hitting his head on the floor. Stephen stemmed the heavy bleeding from the head wound, and put his first aid training into action – performing CPR. After two shocks with a defibrillator, Mr Harrison finally stabilised for long enough to move him to an ambulance and he was taken to hospital for further treatment. Miraculously, just four days later, Mr Harrison was able to go to the Queen’s Head to enjoy a pub lunch and thank the man that saved his life. Mr Laing said: “The first thing I said to him was ‘You look a lot taller than the last time I saw you’.”
The quick response of Lisa Perry saved the life of former East Anglian Daily Times editor Terry Hunt in May this year. Terry collapsed after suffering a cardiac arrest as he walked through Ipswich town centre. A member of the public called 999 and a paramedic arrived at the scene. He was trying to carry out CPR and use a defibrillator at the same time. He began shouting for someone to help him. At that moment, Lisa Perry, a CPR instructor, happened to be walking past. While the paramedic used the defibrillator to shock Terry four times, Lisa carried out CPR for 45 minutes. After treatment at Papworth Hospital, Terry has since made a good recovery and the outlook is positive. He says without the actions of Lisa and the paramedic, he would not have survived. Lisa and Terry have since worked to promote the importance of CPR skills and to increase the number of defibrillators in Ipswich.
Barking Pre-School -In February this year, staff at Barking Pre-School were faced with an extraordinary situation – a child in their care, three-year-old Annabel Brightwell, collapsed suddenly while dancing after suffering a cardiac arrest. Pre-school team members Shelley Symonds, Ness Hall, Zoe Corbett, Lucy Glendinning and Elsah Thorpe showed no hesitation, performing CPR on the youngster for 20 minutes until paramedics arrived. Annabel was airlifted to Addenbrooke’s Hospital and placed in an induced coma, spending six days in intensive care. She was later diagnosed with a rare genetic heart condition, which had been unknown to her parents.She is now on medication, but aside from that is living the life of a normal three-year-old. Annabel’s mum Rebecca said the pre-school’s quick actions undoubtedly saved Annabel’s life. Shelley, in particular, was praised for her rapid response.
Community Group or Champion of the Year
Despite working full-time as a teacher, Nicola Tooke dedicates so much of her free time to the 5th Woodbridge Sea Scouts. She helps arrange trips and activities for the sea scouts, and is described as kind, calm and caring – her nomination says the scouts’ parents are in awe of her! Because of Nicola, the children have learned to row, sail and been to some amazing places.
Jane is a compassionate and indispensable member of the Shotley Peninsula community. She has raised thousands for St Michael’s Church in Woolverstone with her innovative ideas. The Monthly Market has become a must visit, with a fabulous friendly atmosphere. Jane also introduced the Death café, an incredible initiative allowing people to talk openly about a very difficult subject. She has organised art exhibitions, including a unique sculpture display.
Sue fights endlessly to bring about change for those with special education needs and disability and mental health difficulties. Even whilst juggling running a pub and supporting her own children she continues to be there for others. After losing her own son, Daniel, to suicide only recently, she has continued supporting and helping others to ensure no other family will suffer the heartache her own has recently.
Outstanding Bravery of the Year Award
Lisa Barrell and Kate Mason - Lisa Barrell and Kate Mason saved the life of a woman who was in distress and threatening to jump from a bridge over the A14 at Needham Market. The woman was hanging from railings on the wrong side of the bridge, but Lisa and Kate rushed to her aid and grabbed her arms to prevent her from falling onto the carriageway. They clung on to her for 15 minutes until help arrived. They showed inner strength and determination, their actions saved a life that day.
Hospital / Ambulance person of the year award
Bergholt Ward - The talented, caring team on Bergholt Ward at Ipswich Hospital was nominated for the outstanding care they gave to Skyla Creamer, who had several complex medical conditions and died in February this year aged nine. Skyla was a regular visitor to Bergholt Ward, and the staff cared for her with such love and compassion. Skyla died on the ward, and the staff went above and beyond to care for her even after she passed, never leaving her alone.
Stowmarket Community Health Team
Michelle Chaplin and the community health team in Stowmarket went above and beyond the call of duty when the Beast from the East hit Suffolk. She was able to borrow a John Deere tractor from her neighbour, a farmer, and collected staff from home to bring them into work, and drove nurses around the countryside to visit their patients stranded due to the severe snow drifts. The whole team’s commitment and dedication to their patients shone through.
Team of the Year
The HOPS team - Jackie Markel has been running the HOPS team for the families of disabled children in Suffolk for many years. This charity provides much-needed holiday and Saturday respite care, plus great volunteer opportunities for young people. HOPS staff have a wealth of knowledge and aim to meet each child’s individual needs, be this behavioural, medication, physical or emotional.
Mid Suffolk CAB
Over the last year, Citizens Advice Mid Suffolk helped over 3,000 people with 10,000 problems relating to debt, benefits, employment, housing, relationship and legal issues. A key role is played by volunteers and Citizens Advice Mid Suffolk strongly values the wide range of skills, expertise, experience and commitment that their volunteers bring to the organisation. They seek to promote supported volunteering as a route to develop skills and confidence in individuals which is in turn of benefit to the whole community.
Museum of East Anglian Life – volunteering team
This fantastic museum based in the heart of Stowmarket has developed a group of over 300 volunteers, which has created real gains for the health and wellbeing of those in the town. The museum, set in 75 acres of beautiful countryside, has evolved to become an attraction which brings in so many visitors. The museum and its army of volunteers do a brilliant job of using the past to inspire people.
Search and Rescue team of the Year
HM Coastguard Lowestoft -The Volunteer Coastguard are volunteers who give up their own time to perform search and rescue, often in dangerous situations. These dedicated individuals give their time freely, and respond to the sound of their pager launching at any time of day and night, to help people in distress.
Kevin Waterson is founder of most of the Search and Rescue groups in the Eastern region. He has trained innumerable successful SAR dogs and SAR personnel, locally, regionally and nationally. He has also worked tirelessly with the police as a volunteer SAR dog handler for over 20 years.
Earlier this year, Nick Ayres, a drowning prevention officer for the RNLI, grabbed his rescue board and rushed into the sea to save a female swimmer being dragged away by the current. When he got to the casualty, she was face down and lost consciousness. He put her on the board, and towed her back to the beach, fearing the worst. The rest of the coastguard team sprang into action. An ambulance arrived within 10 minutes and transported the woman to James Paget Hospital University in Gorleston. She recovered well and was released from hospital.
Fire Service Award
Wrentham Firefighters - Five firefighters from Wrentham Station cycled from Llangefni to Lowestoft, raising £3,200 for the Firefighters’ Charity and MIND. Only one of the team had owned a bike before September last year, so they had to work hard to be ready for the ride in June. Firefighters are busy people, particularly retained ones, but they found the time and energy to undertake this challenge and support two excellent charities.
British Firefighter Championship – Organising Team
The British Firefighter Challenge is an international competition organised by firefighters for firefighters and is hosted by a different service each year. This year Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service was delighted to host this prestigious event at Bury St Edmunds in July. It attracted 200 competitors and many spectators across the UK, Europe, North America and as far as India. The organisation was largely undertaken by a small team of dedicated fire service personnel and resulted in a well-attended and well-run event during two of the hottest days of the summer.
John Last joined Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service as an on-call firefighter in 1973 and has provided dedicated service to the people of Suffolk ever since. John is now the Watch Manager at Leiston Fire Station and leads by example, setting high standards and providing positive leadership. John usually provides in excess of 150 hours cover per week to the station, which is one of the most significant contributions in the county.
Volunteer of the Year Award
Inge Nijkamp -Ipswich Hospital volunteer Inge completed the toughest footrace on earth, the world famous Marathon des Sables, which saw her cover 153 miles in the Saharan Desert. She raised almost £11,000 for the hospital’s Sunrise Appeal, run by the Ipswich Hospital Charity, and bought a training simulation baby for Ipswich’s Neonatal Unit. Inge was inspired to say thank you to the Neonatal Unit’s care of her own daughter Emma who was born at just 27 weeks and weighed a tiny 1.13lbs.
Long serving volunteer Jessie has been helping out at Ipswich Hospital’s eye department since 1986. She goes into the hospital once a week and is loved by everyone in the department. Jessie is beyond committed to her volunteering role. She embodies so many values of what a volunteer needs to be: kind, caring, committed, helpful and friendly.
Town Pastors of Suffolk
The Town Pastors of Suffolk continue to make a huge difference in communities across Suffolk. They patrol the streets at night, helping people in need – particularly the vulnerable. In one case this year, they were the first at the scene of a stabbing in Ipswich and helped the victim. The pastors have operated in Suffolk for 11 years and now patrol 10 towns, mainly on weekend nights, as well as special events including Latitude Festival.
Keeping Suffolk Special Award
David Goodlad -David Goodlad has been described as ‘community personified’ in the village of Rattlesden.He has painting railings which run throughout the village, cleared the River Rat to avoid possible flooding, volunteered in the village shop, cleared the churchyard, run services to commemorate villagers who died in the Great War and compiled a book to honour locally-based US airmen who died 1939-1945.
For years, Mervyn has taken it upon himself to keep the village of Eyke clean of rubbish. He is seen walking the busy roads, picking litter that is thrown out of vehicles. Grateful people in the village say he has done this for as long as they can remember, and estimate he must have cleared tons of waste over the years. He never make a fuss or expects praise, he just gets on with it. He is a real community hero.
Shotley Open Spaces
The Shotley Open Spaces (or SOS) volunteers work tirelessly to keep a numbers of walking trails, tracks and pathways used by young mums with buggies, disabled vehicles and others, clear by cutting back brambles and other overgrowth. SOS also established the first accredited Walkers Are Welcome area in Suffolk, and have helped other groups to do so in their village. They raise funds through an annual calendar highlighting other community ventures.
Alan has been running the Chelmondiston Recycling Centre for a number of years, totally free of charge. He dedicates all his Saturday, bank Holiday Mondays and Wednesday mornings in an effort to keep the facility open, since its closure by the local authority. Alan sorts through all the waste, recycles as much of it as possible and keeps costs very low. Without this facility, residents from Shotley and Chelmondiston would have to either travel 10 miles into Ipswich or 15 into Manningtree.
Police Person of the Year Award
PC Melissa Steven and PC Samuel Knibbs - The pair were called to reports of a man walking along the road with an axe. When the officers arrived, he went at them with the axe. They managed to use an incapacitant spray and then disarm him, protecting members of the public. The officers were praised by the judge when the man was sentenced - he described the incident as “extremely serious” and said they had acted in an “exceptionally brave way”.
PC Jon Harvey
Pc Jon Harvey was off-duty when he was called upon to save a woman from drowning in Ipswich. He was heading home from a shift at around 1am when he was radioed by a colleague to tell him a woman was in trouble in the marina on the waterfront. She was struggling to stay afloat, but Pc Harvey didn’t hesitate to jump into the water - saving her from drowning and managing to get her out. The East of England Ambulance Service arrived shortly afterwards and she was taken to hospital with suspected hypothermia.
PC Stephen Vaughan
In January, PC Stephen Vaughan and police dog Nipper were called to an incident on the coast. A distressed lady had called police to say she was going to kill herself and was on the coast somewhere. PC Vaughan located her vehicle in a car park and started a search of the area for her. The lady was tracked by Nipper to the shoreline where she was spotted lying face down in the water. PC Vaughan jumped off the 10ft sea wall despite having a leg injury to get to her. The lady still had a pulse, albeit very weak, and she was taken to hospital from where she made a complete recovery.
Unsung Hero of the Year Award
Paula Shepherd -Paula was diagnosed with breast cancer a few years ago and recognised that there was no support group for families and their young children. When she was recovering she decided she would facilitate a support group, which included fun activities for the children. Paula liaised with MacMillan nurses to start a swim group once a month. There are regularly over 30-40 children who attend Crown Pools with staff members in the pool while the adults can meet and chat together while the children play. She has fought cancer and used this experience to provide something positive for others.
Ann takes in sick and injured hedgehogs and hoglets from across Suffolk needing her help and care. She works tirelessly to hand rear the youngsters and care for the injured hedgehogs often needing months of treatment. Hoglets need feeding by hand every two hours and this can be exhausting. Her nomination describes Ann as the fairy hogmother.
Steve Cates & Antwonne Smith
Steve and Antwonne run a nightclub experience for people with learning disabilities at Revolutions in Ipswich, so they can experience what it is like to go “clubbing”. During the day, they both work as carers, but every other Wednesday evening they give up a night to run the event, which is hugely popular.
Their nomination says they deserve to be recognised for being so caring and providing such a brilliant clubbing event in their own time.