Six women share top prize at celebration of Suffolk’s unsung heroes

The six winners of the Inspiring Leader Award: Fiona Ellis, Tara Somers, Ann Osborn, Maureen Reynel,

The six winners of the Inspiring Leader Award: Fiona Ellis, Tara Somers, Ann Osborn, Maureen Reynel, Emma Ratzer, and Rebecca Crerar Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

It was a night to remember at this year’s High Sheriff Awards – as one prize was shared by no fewer than six inspiring women for the first time in the event’s history.

High Sheriff George Vestey presented the awards at a glittering ceremony at Wherstead Park Picture:

High Sheriff George Vestey presented the awards at a glittering ceremony at Wherstead Park Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

The winners of the High Sheriff Awards 2019 were revealed at a glittering ceremony this evening, with inspiring people from across the county celebrated for their selfless contribution to society.

George Vestey, High Sheriff of Suffolk, said the standard of entries was “quite extraordinary” – spoiling the judges to such an extent that, in one case, they chose to split an award between six worthy nominees.

A total of nine High Sheriff Awards were presented, and the new Suffolk Medal was launched, at the ceremony hosted by BBC Radio Suffolk’s Lesley Dolphin and Tim Holder, from Suffolk Community Foundation, at Wherstead Park on Thursday evening.

The winners included six outstanding women who were nominated as Inspiring Leaders: Fiona Ellis from Survivors in Transition, Tara Somers from Homestart, Ann Osborn from The Coffee Caravan, Maureen Reynel from FIND Families in Need, Emma Ratzer from Access Community Trust, and Rebecca Crerar from Suffolk Refugee Support.

The Bangladeshi Support Centre were presented with the award for Voluntary Organisation of the Year,

The Bangladeshi Support Centre were presented with the award for Voluntary Organisation of the Year, Inspiring Young People Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant


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In a first for the High Sheriff Awards, the judging panel felt they could not choose between the nominees – so elected to split the prize six ways.

Other winners included a young arts trustee, a young people’s project based at an army base, and a doctor who started the accident rescue service in Suffolk.

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Mr Vestey, whose year-long term as High Sheriff ends this month, said: “Last night was an incredible ceremony, with so many great stories about what our amazing volunteers are doing to provide vital support their communities.

“The standard of entries was quite extraordinary this year so to pick winners was really difficult. That said we had nine outstanding category winners who can be justifiably proud of their achievement.”

Stephen Singleton, chief executive of Suffolk Community Foundation, added: “Another wonderful Suffolk celebration of all the great work that our local charities and community groups do to change local lives.

“It was particularly great to hear ‘partnerships’ be discussed and rewarded. Team Suffolk working together for the common good.”

Those attending the awards ceremony also saw the launch of the latest scheme designed to celebrate the work of those in the voluntary sector.

The Suffolk Medal, designed by world-famous Suffolk artist Maggie Hambling, is the brainchild of George Vestey, and will be awarded to the first recipients on Suffolk Day on June 21, 2019.

High Sheriff Awards 2019, winners:

• Suffolk Inspiring Leader Award: Fiona Ellis (Survivors in Transition), Tara Somers (Homestart), Ann Osborn (The Coffee Caravan), Maureen Reynel (FIND Families in Need), Emma Ratzer (Access Community Trust), and Rebecca Crerar (Suffolk Refugee Support)

• Suffolk Volunteer of the Year Award (25 years and over): Gillian Brough

• Suffolk Young Volunteer of the Year Award (up to 25 years of age): Chloe Pearson

• Suffolk Collaborative Partnership Award: East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT)

• Suffolk Voluntary Organisation of the Year Award: Rebuilding Broken Lives: YMCA Trinity Group

• Suffolk Voluntary Organisation of the Year Award: Inspiring young people: The Bangladeshi Support Centre

• Suffolk Strengthen Your Community Award: Operation Camouflage

• Suffolk Voluntary Health Care Award: Livability Icanho

• Suffolk Emergency and Armed Services Volunteers Award: Dr Jeremy Mauger

The following organisations also received grants from the High Sheriff’s Fund:

• Bury St Edmunds Women’s Aid Centre

• Bury Town Pastors

• Catch 22

• Home-Start Mid & West Suffolk

• PHOEBE

• Porch Project

• Sporting 87 Football Club

• Suffolk Rape Crisis

• The Mix Stowmarket

• Voices 4 Gainsborough Community Library

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