Gallery: Stories of determination, heroic acts of bravery and selfless dedication to the cause amaze guests at the Stars of Suffolk 2013

The glittering Stars of Suffolk awards night held at Suffolk New College
The Military Wives Choir f

The glittering Stars of Suffolk awards night held at Suffolk New College The Military Wives Choir from Wattisham entertain - Credit: Archant

The EADT and Ipswich Star’s fifth annual event saw tales of courage, determination and community spirt.

Taking the overall Star of Suffolk award was 49-year-old firefighter Jim Golder who was the judge’s unanimous choice after risking all to rescue two children from drowning at sea.

Speaking after the event, hosted by Suffolk New College in Ipswich, Mr Golder said: “I feel really honoured and privileged to receive this award and I really appreciate all the nominations and the awards team for giving me this fantastic prize.

“I’m absolutely gobsmacked - I did not expect it at all.”

The firefighter, from Orford, was visiting Sea Palling beach in Norfolk on a family holiday when he noticed the young boy and girl struggling about 60 metres out at sea.

Without fear for his own safety, Mr Golder swam out to the youngsters before battling strong currents to return to shore with the children clinging to his neck.

Receiving the Fire Service award earlier in the evening, he said “it all happened very quickly” and it was “quite a scary place at the time”.

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“I’ve been blessed to work with some really great people in my career with the Royal Marines and the fire service,” he added

“I don’t see myself as special, there are a lot of people who do that every day.”

Presenting the awards, BBC Radio Suffolk’s Mark Murphy said the heroic tales were sure to have left audiences with a “warm glow in their hearts”.

“These are the people who sum up the spirit, dedication and courage which so clearly defines the wonderful county of Suffolk,” he said.

Few tales embodied that heroic spirit more than Dawn Garrett’s story.

The Ipswich mum-of-one, who died recently aged just 37, following a lifetime battling illness, was described by her family as “a selfless, generous and inspiring woman – one in a million”.

Taking to the stage to receive the award on Dawn’s behalf, a tearful mum and dad, Janet and Ted, son Ashton, brother Paul and sister-in-law Rachel could barely contain their emotion.

Speaking after the presentation, Paul said: “It’s just a shame that she was not here to receive the award herself - we are very proud of her.”

“It’s a very emotional moment,” added Ted.

Despite her illness, Dawn devoted herself to fundraising for the Woolverstone Wish Appeal to help the oncology department at Ipswich Hospital.

She was also a loving mother to nine-year-old Ashton.

Announcing the award, Archant Suffolk editor-in-chief Terry Hunt explained that Dawn’s inspirational story had touched so many lives that no fewer than 60 nominations, praising her “courage, strength and selfless” character, had been submitted.

Also taking home a special recognition award on the night was Second World War veteran Len Manning.

As a 19-year-old, Len was shot down behind enemy lines and bailed out from 4,000 feet with his parachute on fire.

Four of his crew were killed, but Len, despite suffering burns to his hand and face managed to walk eight miles before collapsing on a French farmer’s doorstep.

Speaking after his presentation, Len said: “It was amazing - I was absolutely gobsmacked.”

Other winners on the night were: Eileen Damant; Harvey McSloy; Ann Garrod; John Gurr; Sgt Daniel Connick, Sgt Brian Calver and PC Samuel Gilkes; Southwold RNLI; Mary Morris; Ipswich Baby Bereavement Group; Paediatric oncology nursing team; Woolverstone Wish; John Bidwell; Brian Perks; and Terri Calvesbert.

Praising them all, Mr Hunt said: “Thank you all for allowing us to share your stories of courage determination, community spirt and bravery – you truly are the Stars of Suffolk.”

He added afterwards: “It was a truly uplifting, inspiring and at times very emotional evening – a celebration of some extraordinary people. We are very grateful to our sponsors, without whom the event could not have happened. Big thanks also go to the companies who provided additional prizes – Center Parcs, Adnams, Colchester Zoo, and Fred Olsen. You all helped to make it a very special evening.’

“I would also like to thank Mark Murphy, from BBC Radio Suffolk, for hosting the evening so expertly once again, and also Mick Parker and his brilliant team for putting on such a superb show.’’