Community unites to celebrate the Stars of Norfolk and Waveney
- Credit: Nick Butcher
It was an evening of proud smiles, tears of joy, laughter and a few surprises.
Unsung heroes and community stalwarts from across the region were feted at a glittering ceremony, the Stars of Norfolk and Waveney Awards.
Award winners were among the more than 250 guests at last night's event at Sprowston Manor, near Norwich.
The audience - mostly made up awards finalists, their families and friends - clapped and cheered as each of the 13 category winners made their way to the stage to accept their awards.
Sarah Barrett, 19, from Southwold, was named the winner of the Young Person of the Year Award for her work to help people struggling with mental health issues.
And Miss Barrett received another honour - winning the overall Star of Norfolk and Waveney Award.
Other winners - which included SERV Norfolk and tennis star Alfie Hewett - also deservedly collected prizes and showed why the area has so much to be proud of.
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Nigel Pickover, EDP editor-in-chief, said he was thrilled with the success of the awards, which was run this year for the fourth time.
Mr Pickover said the event was a chance to recognise people from the community who worked tirelessly for others without any expectation of praise.
He said: 'Stars is one of the events which binds our community together, a veritable power for good.'
There were also two special recognition awards presented to groups which have shown admirable spirit and dedication to the community.
One of these awards went to the Sandringham Flower Show committee, which not only organises one of the region's premier outdoor events but has contributed hundreds of thousands of pounds to charity over the past 40 years.
The other special recognition award went to the volunteer lifeboat men and women stationed across Norfolk and Waveney, who regularly risk their lives to save others, both in and offshore.
The awards were hosted by BBC Radio Norfolk presenter Nick Conrad.
In summing up the night, Mr Conrad said: 'Congratulations to all of this evening's finalists – the standard of entrants to these awards was wonderful.'
The finalists were drawn from a pool of more than 300 entries who were nominated by EDP readers after the awards were launched five months ago.
Make sure to pick up a copy of Monday's EDP for a special Stars of Norfolk and Waveney eight-page supplement
Congratulations to the winners of this year's Stars of Norfolk and Waveney awards, click on the links to read some of their stories:
? Carer of the Year - Janice Parslow-Williams
? Young Person of the Year - Sarah Barrett
? Sporting Person of the Year - Alfie Hewett
? Community Group or Champion of the Year - Ros Cordiner
? Outstanding Bravery - Neil Ramsay and David Castleman
? Hospital/Ambulance Hero/Heroine of the Year - Emily Cole
? Team of the Year - SERV Norfolk
? Special Recognition Awards - Sandringham Flower Show Committee, Norfolk and Waveney's onshore and off shore lifeboats and all their volunteers
? Search and Rescue Person of the Year - Peter Dukes
? Fire Service Person of the Year - David Farrow
? Volunteer of the Year - Jean and William George
? Armed Services Person of the Year - Luke Woodley
? Police Person of the Year - PCSO Norman Drew
? Unsung Hero Person of the Year - Stella Gill
? Overall Star of the Year - Sarah Barrett
A true Star
A few short years ago Sarah Barrett was in hospital after being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following a violent attack when she was a child.
Since then she has gone from strength to strength, setting up a campaigning website where she encourages others to 'fight the stigma' of mental health issues.
Miss Barrett's inspiring story of courage and charity prompted our judged to name her not only the winner of the Young Person of the Year Award, but also the overall Star of Norfolk and Waveney.
As she went up on stage to collect her award, she said: 'It's totally amazing and completely unexpected. It's such a great honour and I was very surprised I won because the other finalists were so good.'
Miss Barrett was given a prize - a day out with friends at the cinema and shopping - as well as a trophy, fish-eye lens, and flowers.
When she was 14, Miss Barrett was hospitalised after self-harming and multiple overdoses. The nearest unit that could accommodate her was in Southampton, giving rise to further difficulties of homesickness and separation anxiety.
She fought back, however, and now aims to use her webpage, fightthestigma.uk, as an education tool - and hopes that the more people that know, the greater the understanding of the issues.
Another inspiring winner from the night was Ros Cordiner, who was presented with the Community Group or Champion of the Year Award.
Mrs Cordiner, aged 70, set up group in the village of Ludham more than five years ago to teach other seniors how to use computers and the internet. In that time she has taught hundreds of 'silver surfers' how to email their relatives, pay bills online and much more.
Mr Pickover said he wanted to thank everyone who made their own nominations and taken part in the event.
He said: 'We cannot give awards to everyone here tonight, but all of our finalists are Stars.
'Each and everyone who has made it this level has done something to help make Norfolk and Waveney such a special place.
'They deserve our upmost thanks and praise.'
Do you know anyone who deserves recognition for the work they do in the community? Email email@example.com