Cast your vote for our local covid heroes

Chefs at Namaste Village Indian restaurant on Queens Road, Norwich, preparing meals for NHS frontlin

Chefs at Namaste Village Indian restaurant on Queens Road, Norwich, preparing meals for NHS frontline workers Picture: Namaste Village - Credit: Namaste Village

The Norfolk Business Awards are offering you the chance to recognise the businesses that have supported our community during the Covid-19 pandemic. Voting for the Changing Lives Special Recognition Award is now open, and here’s the details on all the nominees.

The Feed, in Prince of Wales Road has opened a community fridge and freezer. Pictured: Mike Briggs,

The Feed, in Prince of Wales Road has opened a community fridge and freezer. Pictured: Mike Briggs, trainee, Gemma Harvey, catering enterprise officer and Lucy Parish, general manager of The Feed Picture: The Feed - Credit: Archant

The Norfolk Business Awards need you. The new Changing Lives Special Recognition Award, sponsored by Norwich Research Park, gives every reader a chance to get involved by voting for the companies that helped our communities at the height of the coronavirus pandemic.

“When the pandemic struck, businesses across this region responded with incredible agility and empathy,” says business editor Richard Porritt. “It was heart-warming to see how many firms supported NHS and care home staff. It was also amazing to see how quickly they adapted to the situation, with manufacturers switching to making visors, masks and disinfectant gels to help those working on the frontline – often at some cost to their own bottom lines.

The work these firms did benefited the community and now we ask every member of our community to go online and vote for their most-deserving business. “

“The spirit that is seen every day on our Park embraces the power of collaboration. Our community of researchers and scientists work together to come up with solutions to some of the most globally important issues we face – and the overriding reason for doing this is to change lives. That’s why the Changing Lives Award is so important to us,” says David Parfrey, of award sponsor, Norwich Research Park. “The Covid-19 pandemic showed how people from different organisations could work together for the common good.”

Fielding Cottage expanded its offering to serve as a pop-up farm shop and went out of its way to get

Fielding Cottage expanded its offering to serve as a pop-up farm shop and went out of its way to get the items people needed Picture: BRITTANY WOODMAN - Credit: Archant

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“This award celebrates those businesses who went the extra mile – and we want to make sure that their efforts don’t go unnoticed,” says Richard Porritt.

“I would urge everyone to vote for who they think is most deserving. Awards are always more powerful when voted for by the people who were affected,” concludes David Parfrey. “All of us can appreciate what so many individuals and organisations in the county did to help our communities.”

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Here are details on all the businesses nominated for the Changing Lives Special Recognition Award – along with a brief summary of how they’ve helped our communitites in the fight against Covid-19.

David Alexander, a bathroom fitter at the Flagship Group, delivering food parcels during coronavirus

David Alexander, a bathroom fitter at the Flagship Group, delivering food parcels during coronavirus Picture: FLAGSHIP GROUP - Credit: Archant

To cast your vote, click here.

A Different View

Hair, Care, Share owner Shelley Line offers hairdressing services to beneficiary clients using a "pa

Hair, Care, Share owner Shelley Line offers hairdressing services to beneficiary clients using a "pay it forward scheme" Picture: Richard Jarmy Photography - Credit: Archant

During the pandemic, A Different View used its skills to support the cultural sector. When local theatres, museums and heritage sites were desperate for real-time information to understand how to react, A Different View repurposed its research team, collaborating with others to provide fast, reliable answers to these questions: Can we survive? What will the world look like? How can we adapt?

The team and partners offered their time for nothing to help much-loved performing arts venues, theatres, local museums and heritage sites through the worst of times. It remains committed to providing these freely available reports through 2020.

Black Shuck Gin

Jark Norfolk managing director Kelly Cartwright has been using her skills as qualified face fit test

Jark Norfolk managing director Kelly Cartwright has been using her skills as qualified face fit tester to help healthworkers at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital Picture: Jark Norfolk - Credit: Archant

As a distillery, Black Shuck focuses its attention on offering an enjoyable experience, but when the Covid-19 pandemic struck, it turned its hand to something potentially life-saving by producing hand sanitiser.

Recipients included a charity-based care home, which had active cases of Covid among residents and staff and was struggling to get hold of hand sanitiser. Within 24 hours, the Fakenham-based business had donated and delivered 48 filled bottles and a further 20 litres.

East Anglian Air Ambulance

Miniature Donkeys for Wellbeing haven't been able to visit care home settings since the beginning of

Miniature Donkeys for Wellbeing haven't been able to visit care home settings since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, but the team have sent 500 activity packs to care homes and other community settings Picture: Miniature Donkeys for Wellbeing - Credit: Archant

EAAA exists to help people in the most life-changing or life-threatening situations, by delivering the best pre-hospital care. Finding new ways to safely deliver this during the worst medical crisis of our generation was no easy task.

Thanks to overwhelming public support, the air ambulance has been able to keep flying. In April and May it adapted its service to support the NHS, by transferring critically ill Covid-19 patients between hospitals when some reached capacity in intensive care.

As lockdown eased, its crews have been busier than last summer and continue to be there for patients – no matter what.

Panel Graphic made face shields for NHS workers and other frontline workers from its factory in Lodd

Panel Graphic made face shields for NHS workers and other frontline workers from its factory in Loddon Picture: Panel Graphic - Credit: Archant

The Feed Enterprises CIC

The Feed is a not for profit social enterprise and charity which provides supported work experience within its social café and catering enterprise to people who face barriers to employment.

The small team were determined to use their skills and resources during Covid-19 to ensure no one went without food by delivering healthy meals during lockdown throughout Norwich.

The charity saw the need for further food provision and opened the Community Fridge at its premises on Prince of Wales Road on August 3. The Fridge had over 200 visits and gave away more than 750kg of food that would have gone to waste in the first month.

Fielding Cottage

Fielding Cottage, in Honingham, harnessed its contacts, space and staff to serve as a pop-up farm shop. Owner Sam Steggles was previously selling local meat, vegetables and eggs from his small “Goat Shed” self-service shop. But in response to massive customer demand, he expanded the product range and moved the shop into a larger empty shed, providing a safe and friendly environment where people could get food essentials.

Sam went out of his way to get the items people requested during lockdown, which included avocados and tonic water.

Flagship Group

Working in partnership with other businesses and local authorities, Flagship’s dedicated staff provided accommodation for rough sleepers and adapted customers’ homes to prevent them from being admitted to hospital or to enable them to return home safely.

Staff contacted over 6,900 of its most vulnerable customers, provided £330,000 of debt relief to 641 families at risk of losing their home, let 128 homes to families in desperate need, delivered food parcels and meals on wheels, and doubled its ‘kindness fund’.

FXhome Ltd

Norwich-based FXhome’s launched its ‘Pay-What-You-Want’ scheme for its filmaking software, which has raised over £115,000 for charities providing help during the pandemic, including Partners in Health, Doctors Without Borders, Center for Disaster Philanthropy and Water Aid.

The company also hosted a global video creation competition, Inside the Box, to inspire young people to get creative under the restrictions of lockdown.

Hair, Care, Share CIC

Hair, Care, Share is a Community Interest Company (CIC) which provides hairdressing services to beneficiary clients using a “pay it forward scheme” where additional payment is made to help someone else get their hair cut for free or at a greatly reduced price.

Owner Shelley Line secured grants which enabled her to make safe and refurbish the upstairs area of the Anglia Square property to use as a learning centre where members of the community can learn soft skills such as job seeking and volunteering to help them return to work.

HER Business Revolution

It was clear from the beginning of the lockdown that members of HER Business Revolution women’s business network needed support, training, advice and networking more than ever. In just two days they published the HER Business Planner and Wellbeing Journal, as well as hosting the HER Big Business Brainstorming Session, which was watched by over 10,000 women.

They also held the HER Online Business Expo, supporting over 15,000 women with their business, mindset and wellbeing, as well as securing funding for the HER Business Elite Academy to support 300 new and struggling female-owned businesses.

Iceni Diagnostics

Iceni Diagnostics is using its unique technology to develop an affordable, easy-to-use test that will confirm whether someone has Covid-19 in under 15 minutes.

The team began collecting data as soon as awareness of Covid-19 arose in Wuhan, to verify if there was scope to develop a rapid test. In early March, with the wave of cases moving rapidly across Europe and increasing here, they took the decision to divert all their efforts towards a rapid test for Covid-19.

Iceni Diagnostics is convinced it will produce a highly effective rapid test that will make a major contribution to managing the pandemic.

Jark Norfolk

When Jark Norfolk managing director Kelly Cartwright and branch manager Astral Chapman saw demand for construction recruitment agency workers slump as a result of the lockdown, they decided to offer their skills to help frontline staff.

As qualified face fit testers, they helped healthworkers at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital to fit face masks so that they could work safely during the crisis.

The pair also helped in the community by delivering fruit and vegetables to key staff, while also trying to secure their regular workers with jobs in other industries needing more staff, such as for food processing and health work.

Mr Fruity

When lockdown hit, Mr Fruity lost around 80pc of its customer base overnight. In choosing to deliver to residential homes, it quickly found there was a real need for deliveries of fresh produce.

The business had to adapt very quickly. Its aim was was simply “to help!” They could do what the supermarkets couldn’t, getting fresh produce out and keeping people fed while remaining safe.

And they’re still doing it!

Miniature Donkeys for Wellbeing

Minidonks brings its gentle and friendly miniature donkeys to community groups, voluntary organisations, dementia and special needs groups for a mood-boosting visit which helps people with their wellbeing.

Minidonks saw that people would suffer from the lack of activities in care home settings, and knew that the people who love getting visits from the donkeys needed something to entertain and stimulate them.

They sent 500 activity packs to care homes and other community settings, containing over 30 activities for individuals, small groups or the whole home.

Namaste Village

This popular Norwich-based Indian restaurant has been helping homeless people for some time through its “Dosa on the Wall” scheme, which sees customers donate towards a meal for people in need. During the Covid-19 pandemic, it launched a grocery service for the vulnerable and elderly in the community.

With public partnership, the team made meals and served them to hospitals and people in need, including students.

They got in touch with charities such as Meal4NHS to raise more funds and provide meals to be served out to frontline staff.

Neucin Design

Neucin Design collaborated with Hethel Innovation and Norfolk County Council in supporting an initiative to address desperate PPE shortages.

The small team of three were extremely proud to manufacture, assemble and deliver 4,000-plus protective face shields and undertaking the upgrading and repurposing of 20,000-plus face shields to protect the local healthcare and frontline workers.

Norwich City Football Club

With the club in complete lockdown and CSF as a charity having to halt the majority of its programmes, the club felt a duty to do everything it could to show its assistance to its loyal supporters and the wider community though four main projects:

? 7,000 telephone calls made to season tickets holders aged 60+ to check on their wellbeing.

? The distribution of care packages to local charities and the wider community.

? The distribution of PPE to care homes and medical centres across Norfolk.

?Thank you gifts consisting of handmade cakes and signed football shirts delivered to local health and care workers.

Panel Graphic

Loddon-based Panel Graphic switched production from plastic components for the automotive industry to manufacturing face shields.

After two days production they were assembling 1,000 face shields an hour, delivering them to hospitals and care homes in Norfolk and Suffolk, supplying in excess of 250,000.

Panel Graphic also raised £150,000 for the NHS, plus funds are being used to purchase a holiday park home which will be offered to local NHS workers for a free holiday as a long-term thank you for all the support and care they have given.

Spire Norwich Hospital

Alongside the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH), Spire Norwich Hospital was instrumental in supporting the health, safety and wellbeing of many local patients who needed clinical care during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Spire rapidly changed its standard business model to accommodate many vulnerable patients transferred from NNUH by implementing and offering up its facilities to allow patients to have treatment within a Covid-secure pathway.

In the first 100 days of the pandemic, Spire treated nearly 11,000 patients who may have otherwise had their treatment or surgery disrupted.

Woodgate Nursery

Woodgate nursery in Aylsham was, as we all were, totally unprepared for Covid. Once lockdown was announced the team admit they were initially like “rabbits in headlights”, but they soon realised they had to adapt.

With help from family and friends they developed a delivery service, allowing people to get out in their gardens, which helped many people with their mental health during lockdown.

Over 2,000 deliveries were made during lockdown, including a single packet of seeds to one elderly customer – no delivery was too small as they tried to help everyone.


Norfolk-based app Snoop uses secure open banking technology to deliver insights to help consumers avoid rip-offs and make the most of their money.

The business was planning to launch in June, but feedback from a test group of customers suggested it come to market immediately. The team worked around the clock to launch two months early in April 2020.

What the founders didn’t know at the time was the ability for Snoop to help beyond smart ways to save money as customers shared clever ways to home-school and entertain the kids, tips for working from home, and smart solutions to help the local community at the height of lockdown.

The Victoria Inn, Holkham

As The Victoria Inn was forced to close in March, an initiative to feed those in need was born. ‘Helping Hands for Hungry Heroes’ quickly developed to provide delicious meals for staff at King’s Lynn Queen Elizabeth Hospital and local vulnerable residents.

In addition, Sam Proctor, a member of staff, set a gruelling six-week cycling challenge to raise funds for the QEH. In total £5,050 was raised and 10,000 meals prepared for local people and NHS staff. This is proof of what good can come from collaboration and a passion to do good, even when the going gets tough.

To cast your vote, click here.

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