High Sheriff Geoffrey Probert presents annual awards to outstanding charities across Suffolk
- Credit: Archant
This year’s High Sheriff Awards have been presented to a selection of Suffolk’s most devoted charitable individuals and organisations.
The accolades, on behalf of the High Sheriff of Suffolk Geoffrey Probert shine a light on volunteers, community groups and other organisations who dedicate their lives, time and energy to helping others.
Winners collected their gongs at a glittering ceremony, presented by BBC Radio Suffolk’s Lesley Dolphin and Suffolk Community Foundation’s Tim Holder. A trophy and cash for each winning voluntary group was handed over at the event, hosted at Wherstead Park in partnership with the East of England Co-op.
Nominations for the eight categories, including the Inspiring Leader Award and Rebuilding Broken Lives Award, opened in November last year, when Mr Probert warned that times are tough for the voluntary sector in Suffolk. Shortlisted nominees were then contacted at the end of January. New categories for this year include The Suffolk Heritage Award, created to honour those who preserve the county’s landscape, buildings and history.
Mr Probert said: “It is wonderful to have an opportunity to celebrate all the great work of the voluntary sector, a lot of which I have been privileged to visit over the past year.
“I have constantly been inspired and humbled by what I have seen. Suffolk would not be the place it is without them.”
Stephen Singleton, the Chief Executive of Suffolk Community Foundation, added: “The direct support of Suffolk’s High Sheriff has grown ever more vital to the voluntary sector in Suffolk.
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“Many hundreds of visits and incredibly important words of support are delivered personally during their year of office. All of this culminates in the wonderful celebrations that we witnessed here.
“This is a huge Suffolk team effort from start to finish and I’d like to thank everyone who helps to make The High Sheriff’s annual award and grants programme happen. They clearly all realise just how valuable financial support and a thank you can be.”
The Awards are sponsored by the East of England Co-op, Muntons, JM Finn, Ashtons, Suez, Camden Boss, The Ipswich Building Society and Clarke and Simpson.
The first accolade, the Suffolk Inspiring Leader Award, was awarded to Halford Hewitt, Director of Ipswich Housing Action Group (IHAG). Mr Hewitt was chosen on the basis that he has dedicated 25 years of his life to the charity, campaigning on the behalf of homeless people across the county. Admired for his resilience, he is considered a leading voice within Suffolk’s voluntary sector.
The Suffolk Young Volunteer of the Year Award went to Adam Thorpe from Woodbridge Scouts. Having been involved with the scouting community since the age of six, Adam is now leader of the first Woodbridge Scouts. In 2017, he also joined a group to form and run a Community Interest Company (CIC) to build a new Woodbridge Youth Centre, of which he is now CIC Director and Treasurer.
The High Sheriff awarded the Suffolk Collaborative Partnership Award to The Sentinal Leisure Trust, Lowestoft, for its support of those with extraordinary health issues. Sentinal runs the Waterlane Leisure Centre in Lowestoft, which offers sport and activities such as exercise on prescription for children and adults with terminal illnesses or serious impairments.
The Suffolk Rebuilding Broken Lives Award was taken home by Selig (Suffolk) Trust in Ipswich. Selig runs the Ipswich Winter Night Shelter and Ipswich Hope into Action, helping the marginalised and homeless. Six town centre churches open in winter as night shelters, on a rota, providing food, clothes, showers (at three venues), towels and toiletries.
Sam’s Café in Lowestoft, staffed by young people from disadvantaged and socially excluded backgrounds, was granted the Suffolk Inspiring Young People Award. The café, which is open to the public, aims to provide the young staff with accredited qualifications and key skills to take them forward into adult life.
The Suffolk Strengthen Your Community Award was presented to Halesworth Men’s Shed – in its own words, “a larger version of the typical man’s shed in the garden – a place where he feels at home and pursues practical interests with a high degree of autonomy”. The shed aims to help combat loneliness and isolation, giving men a place to share their health worries and get support.
New to this year, the Suffolk Heritage Award was won by the Suffolk Guild of Ringers. Practicing at 107 churches around the county, the ringers have one of the largest collections of bells in England.
Finally, The Lifetime Achievement Award went to the Rev Sally Fogden for her exceptional commitment to volunteering. Throughout her adult life, Ms Folgden has worked as a helpline operative for the Farm Community Network, an instructor for Riding for the Disabled, a school governor and a founder of the Addington Fund – dedicated to helping people in the agriculture industry. She is now Chairman of the Rural Coffee Caravan, which she founded in 2002.