Community role models receive trophies for new award

The inaugural Suffolk Business Awards Changing Lives Special Recognition Award recognises local businesses and individuals...

The inaugural Suffolk Business Awards Changing Lives Special Recognition Award recognises local businesses and individuals who adapted in the fight against Covid Picture: Adrianna Keczmerska - Credit: Archant

The Suffolk Business Awards Changing Lives Special Recognition Award, sponsored by Norwich Research Park, was created to celebrate those who used their initiative to respond to the Covid-19 crisis for the benefit of their community.

'This award is a reminder that even when things seem hard, there is always something to do to help,' says Jake Lay...

'This award is a reminder that even when things seem hard, there is always something to do to help,' says Jake Lay Flurrie, whose efforts helped to protect NHS frontline workers Picture: Jake Lay Flurrie - Credit: Archant

Recipients of the Suffolk Business Awards Changing Lives Special Recognition Award have been presented with their trophies in recognition of their inspirational responses to the challenges of the pandemic.

Sponsored by Norwich Research Park, the inaugural Suffolk Business Awards Changing Lives Special Recognition Award was created in 2020 for local businesses and individuals who adapted in the fight against Covid-19 to put their community first.

Normally, each Suffolk Business Awards category receives only one winner but, due to the extraordinary circumstances and the exceptional efforts of those nominated for the Changing Lives Special Recognition Award, four recipients have been announced: Jake Lay Flurrie of 3D Printing with Jake; Melanie Lord of Beauty by Melanie; Ipswich Community Support; and the Jockey Club.

Entries for the award demonstrated the wide variety of inspiring community action our local businesses mustered the courage to provide – from breweries producing hand sanitiser to charities providing accommodation for rough sleepers, from supporting disabled and disadvantaged people to find employment to delivering cooked meals to care homes, hospitals and hospices.

'To receive this award felt really emotional,' says Melanie Lord, whose free online resources for parents and carers...

'To receive this award felt really emotional,' says Melanie Lord, whose free online resources for parents and carers helped explain the pandemic to those living with autism Picture: Melanie Lord - Credit: Archant

A shortlist of 16 individuals, teams, businesses and organisations from the Suffolk business community was put to a public vote before a panel of judges selected the four recipients after completing judging meetings with the finalists.


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The new award champions those who interrupted their business-as-usual operations and generated novel and ingenious solutions to help others negatively impacted by the coronavirus crisis. All four recipients have demonstrated innovation and altruism by repurposing their services for the greater good rather than profitability.

David Parfrey, chief executive of Norwich Research Park, inset below, said: “As we are in another lockdown, it is more important than ever to support each other in any way we can to make life that little bit easier while Covid-19 continues to disrupt normal life. The recipients in our Changing Lives Special Recognition Award are fantastic examples and role models for what you can do in a crisis to help people in your community.

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“Whether as an individual or a group of people in an organisation, they identified an issue, recognised that they could do something to help and took the initiative to contribute,” David adds. “We celebrate their efforts because I am sure we will need more people to follow in their footsteps during this lockdown and in future events that hit our communities.

'This award is for our army of volunteers,' says Charlotte Bale (front) pictured with the Ipswich Community Support team...

'This award is for our army of volunteers,' says Charlotte Bale (front) pictured with the Ipswich Community Support team Picture: Adrianna Keczmerska - Credit: Archant

“I would like to send my heartiest congratulations to our four recipients and would also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has made the effort – or will make the effort over the coming weeks – to help their community and change people’s lives for the better.”

3D Printing with Jake

Established in 2016 by 17-year-old Jake Lay Flurrie, 3D Printing with Jake provides 3D modelling and printing services. But when the pandemic hit, Jake redirected his activities and used his equipment to create 600 visors and masks to help protect NHS staff, care home and key workers.

'We are proud to be part of what feels like a community revival in Newmarket,' says Margo Walsh of the Jockey Club...

'We are proud to be part of what feels like a community revival in Newmarket,' says Margo Walsh of the Jockey Club Picture: Hollie Moore - Credit: Archant

“This award is a reminder that even when things seem hard, there is always something to do to help,” Jake said. “We have seen that during the pandemic, every little thing makes a big difference. We can take some of the strain off of the NHS, the government and people working every day to keep us safe. I hope to see this continued community support from everyone post-Covid.

“I would like to thank everyone who helped me raise money to be able to print the masks, as well as my parents, sister and the team at Suffolk One.”

The judges said: “This is a young man who couldn’t stand on the sidelines. He researched products, identified the requirement he could meet and raised the cash to buy materials – then delivered 600 visors to where they were most needed.”

Beauty by Melanie

Melanie Lord, a self-employed beautician based in Lowestoft and mother of a son on the autism spectrum, responded by creating free online resources for parents and carers to help explain the pandemic to those living with autism.

Melanie said: “To receive this award felt really emotional. It’s amazing being able to help others and see the difference I am making. Unfortunately, many individuals with additional needs have been forgotten about in the government’s preparations. Many of these individuals – like my son – rely on visual aids such as social stories or visual cards to understand what is happening. Winning this award demonstrates the power of inclusion.”

Melanie’s Facebook page, Climbing the Rainbow, continues to grow every week, and has become about more than accessing resources – it’s a place where people chat and feel support. Melanie intends to work with local councils and schools to make her resources available to the wider public. “I think all children would benefit from seeing how others learn, which will build a stronger and more supportive community, while normalising the way others communicate and learn,” she said.

The judge’s said: “Melanie worked evening after evening to create printable resources, such as social stories and other visual aids, and posted them on Facebook – and almost overnight 200 views went to over 3,000. Her resources were used across the community in schools, children’s centres and doctors’ surgeries. This is a mum using her personal experiences to help others like her – right across the country!”

Ipswich Community Support

Charlotte Bale began with flyers through her neighbours’ doors offering help with shopping. Within 24 hours, feedback showed the problem was much bigger than she realised and friends were called. In no time this had reached beyond the local postcode, so support systems were developed and Ipswich Community Support was established in March 2020. Shed roofs were mended, gardens sorted, medicines delivered and meals provided.

Charlotte said: “This award is for our volunteers. They deserve this. People in our community are now feeling seen and heard and that is because of the courage and kindness of our volunteers. This award motivates us to push harder – if we can achieve this during a pandemic, imagine what we can achieve going forward!”

The judges said: “This was a community caring for a community. It was, in their own words, ‘an unprecedented time to build a better home for us all and to make sure no one gets left behind’.”

The Jockey Club

The Jockey Club at Newmarket formed an action group in collaboration with local partner organisations to mobilise furloughed employees as volunteers to deliver food and medication to 150 residents, procure and deliver 3,500 hot meals and arrange short-term financial assistance to those experiencing extreme hardship.

The Jockey Club also created ‘Bridging the Gap’, headed by Frances Stanley, which sought financial contributions to provide three weeks of financial relief for those in difficulty.

Operations manager Margo Walsh said: “There were so many people involved with this project and it is wonderful that this award recognises us all. It is a true representation that we are stronger united.”

Ian Kirk, a local councillor in Newmarket, was instrumental in setting up the helpline. “Ian was an absolute pleasure to work with and felt strongly that the relationships and collaboration built during this time carry on beyond the pandemic,” Margo said. “Sadly, he passed away during the first lockdown. As part of his legacy, we aim to continue building our community and are proud to be part of what feels like a community revival in Newmarket.”

The judges said: “With a history that stretches back to 1752, The Jockey Club is one of the oldest organisations in the region, but not too old to create a new legacy, born from adapting swiftly and radically to the needs of the day. The Jockey Club of 2020 is an organisation that is all about leadership, collaboration, innovation and, above all, about changing lives.”

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