Southwold mental health activist Sarah Barrett’s inspirational message after winning 2016 EDP Stars of Lowestoft and Waveney Awards

Stars of Lowestoft and Waveney awards evening 2016.Overall Star Sarah Barrett.PHOTO: Nick Butcher

Stars of Lowestoft and Waveney awards evening 2016.Overall Star Sarah Barrett.PHOTO: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

'Everyone stay strong' – that was an inspirational teenager's moving message as she won the EDP's Stars of Lowestoft and Waveney Awards for her outstanding bravery.

Just a few 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.

Yet Sarah, today aged 19, bravely spoke out about her battle against illness and set up a campaigning website where she encouraged people to 'fight the stigma' of mental health issues.

Her courageous actions had already won her the Outstanding Bravery category at the Stars of Lowestoft and Waveney Awards, held this evening (Monday, November 7).

But her story was so remarkable the judges also decided to award Sarah the overall Star of Lowestoft and Waveney.

Asked what her message to others was as she went up to collect the award, Sarah said: 'Everyone stay strong and do what you're doing.'

The awards at Lowestoft's Hotel Victoria were started by Stars of Lowestoft and Waveney founder Stephen Ardley, who said: 'The people we're honouring tonight are ordinary people who do extraordinary things and ask for nothing in return.'

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He was followed by Kingsley Healthcare chief executive Daya Thayan, who said: 'These awards recognise the real stars of our community and this is undoubtedly a night for all our unsung heroes.

'The reason I wanted to support these awards as soon as I learned about them was the positive role they play in highlighting – and playing a deserved tribute – to everything and everyone that is good in Lowestoft.

'You are in for a treat this evening when you listen to the heart-warming stories of people who have all made their mark on our community in different ways.

'They are stories that shine such a positive light on our community, showing the triumph of human spirit and kindness.'

Heart-warming stories from the evening included 17-year-old Katie Nesbitt, who battled disability and injury to become a top-performing athlete and won the Young Person of the Year Award.

Also recognised was the Beccles Bombles litter picking group, winner of Team of the Year, and former Royal Marine and fund-raiser Paul Russell, who won Veteran of the Year.

Andrew Papworth, editor of the Lowestoft Journal and EDP community editor for Lowestoft, said: 'It was a tough job for the other judges and I to decide on the winners this evening.

'But it is an absolute privilege to be able to finally give some of our more unsung heroes the recognition they deserve.

'We had a great diversity of nominations and finalists this year.

'However one of the most encouraging things is the powerful presence of our amazing young people.

'It's often said the youth of today are not interested or engaged with the outside world.

'Yet we have some brilliant examples of young people fighting for a better tomorrow.

'I hope these awards show the future truly is in very good hands.'

Do you know someone who deserves recognition for their work in the Waveney community? Email andrew.papworth@archant.co.uk

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