Suffolk heroes honoured at ceremony

HEROES of the Suffolk community have been honoured at a special prize-giving ceremony.The first ever East Anglian Daily Times Suffolk and Proud Awards were held yesterday at Bentleys Restaurant in Ipswich.

HEROES of the Suffolk community have been honoured at a special prize-giving ceremony.

The first ever East Anglian Daily Times Suffolk and Proud Awards were held yesterday at Bentleys Restaurant in Ipswich.

Winners and sponsors were able to enjoy a stylish three-course lunch before the prizes were handed out to members of the public who have proved an inspiration and had a positive impact on their local communities.

There were seven categories in total to mark achievement: charity champion, community hero, Suffolk ambassador, business in the community, environmental hero and sport in the community.

The ceremony was attended by mayor of Ipswich, Bill Wright, and leader of Suffolk County Council Jeremy Pembroke as well as EADT editor Terry Hunt.

Mr Hunt said: “The Suffolk and Proud awards are an excellent way of expressing what I felt was a frustration for many years because we have a fantastic county, with a beautiful coastline, excellent towns, great schools and a fabulous football club and we don't really shout about it enough.

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“Here we have a brilliant opportunity to celebrate everything that is good about our county and bring the accomplishments of individuals and groups together under one banner.

“Too often you hear people say newspapers are only interested in bad news and, although that is true to some extent, we do like to celebrate achievements and in the EADT we have had hundreds of stories from high-profile successes to accounts of personal triumph.”

The EADT launched the year-long Suffolk and Proud campaign in 2005 in conjunction with StenaLine, Suffolk Constabulary, the county council and district and borough councils to recognise all those who work hard for the good of their neighbourhood or surrounding area.

Earlier this year readers were then invited to send in their nominations for who they thought deserved an award for their hard work in the community.

THE first accolade of the afternoon was the Achievement Award, which went to 17-year-old Laurie Squirrell, from Hitcham, near Stowmarket.

Laurie received the honour, which was sponsored by Suffolk College, for her strength of character and inspirational determination following a tragic motocross accident in America in 2004 that left her paralysed from the waist down.

Unperturbed, she has since gone on to pass her driving test first time, competed in the Weston-Super-Mare beach race on a specially adapted quad bike and is set to start work for motocross clothing company So-Cal.

Laurie received her award from Tracey Bailey and Shauna Bilson of Suffolk College.

THE Ipswich Building Society Charity Champion Award went to 89-year-old Bill Matthews for his dedication and support of the British Legion.

The award, presented by Paul Winter, was created to honour a person who has committed themselves to raising money for charity.

Mr Matthews, a former Japanese war prisoner, certainly fits the bill as over the years he has collected thousands of pounds for the British Legion and can often be seen out and about with his collection box from seven in the morning until late in the evening.

Margaret Davey, manager of the housing scheme where Mr Matthews lives, said: “Bill's very pleased to have won. He's been in the paper a number of times for his fundraising efforts but he's very proud to receive the award to recognise his efforts.”

AWARD number three was for Community Hero and was looking for a person who throws themselves into helping their local neighbourhood and makes a positive difference to the area in which they live.

The honour, sponsored by the East of England Co-operative Society and presented by their representative Mirium Harrup, went to former mayor of Ipswich Hamil Clarke.

As well as running his own business, Mr Clarke sits on the board of a number of local organisations including Ipswich and Suffolk Council for Racial Equality (ISCRE), police boards, is a school governor and is involved with the Ipswich Caribbean Association. He has also been honoured with an MBE.

Mr Clarke said: “I was very surprised just to be nominated but I am obviously very proud. I'm always talking about Suffolk wherever I go and the first thing people ask is how come I live in this place with so much cultural diversity and no problems. I just say it's a wonderful place to live.”

SWIMMING star Karen Pickering scooped the next honour for her work in promoting all that is good about Suffolk.

The Suffolk Ambassador Award, sponsored by Anglia Supply Chain Recruitment, was handed to Ms Pickering by Simon Myher and John Reynolds for her efforts in representing the county all over the country.

Ms Pickering has competed in the Olympics, World and European Championships as well as the Commonwealth Games and is the most highly-decorated British swimmer.

She was the first British woman to win a world swimming title in the 200m freestyle and has also been honoured for her achievements with an MBE.

THE Business in the Community Award, sponsored by Select Recruitment, went to the Ipswich Town Football Club Community Trust.

Darren Ablett and Elizabeth Newby were on hand to pick up the gong which honoured organisations that made a real difference to the area where they operate.

ITFC Community Trust first started to establish itself through football in the community activities and now works with a multi-skilled team to offer coaching, educational and fun experiences as well as developing new projects and initiatives to encourage the growth of sport within the town.

Mr Ablett and Mrs Newby received their award from Liz Arthur and Claire Annis of Select Recruitment.

THE penultimate award went to an individual who has made a big contribution to safeguarding or improving the local environment in which they live.

The Environmental Hero gong went to Alan Thompson for his sterling work at Kiln Meadow in Elmswell, near Stowmarket.

The local wildlife site has been developed over the last 13 years from a mass of brambles and nettles to create a place where wild flowers grow and where insects, birds and mammals have found a new home so nature lovers can sit and enjoy the serenity of their surroundings.

Mr Thompson has been instrumental in this process and has also set up a sponsorship scheme for nest boxes, providing a valuable income to help fund the future development and upkeep of the meadow.

THE final accolade recognised achievements in the world of sport and was presented to Sidney and Christine Vice for their work at Framlingham Sports Club.

Inspired by a football club tour of Holland in the mid-1980s, Mr Vice was so impressed with what he saw that he was determined his beloved club, of which he has been a member for 25 years, would offer the same level of sporting provision.

It was the start of a huge project for the husband and wife team who went on to make massive changes to Framlingham Sports Club and to maintain its services and facilities over the years, including the organisation of the locally-famed Framlingham Gala.

Mr Vice said: “It's always nice to be recognised for your achievements but it is very much a team effort between my wife and me and I really couldn't have done it without her. I started in 1959 and she came began making cups of tea for the committee in 1962 so we've been doing it a long time.”

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