Meet the 2021 winners of this year's Stars of Norfolk and Waveney Awards!

Stars of Norfolk and Waveney 2021

The winners of the Stars of Norfolk and Waveney Awards 2021 - Credit: Matt Brasnett

The region's unsung heroes have been recognised in a heart-warming ceremony organised by the EDP - now it's time to meet the winners!

The EDP Stars of Norfolk and Waveney Awards shine a light on those in the community who have shown selfless acts of kindness, heroism, and bravery.  

Supported by headline sponsor Hopkins Homes, the awards offer a chance to thank the groups, organisations, and individuals who have gone the extra mile across the 13 different categories. 

Stars of Norfolk and Waveney 2021 at Norwich Cathedral

Stars of Norfolk and Waveney 2021 at Norwich Cathedral - Credit: Matt Brasnett

David Powles, the editor of the Eastern Daily Press, said: "Over the past decade, the Stars of Norfolk and Waveney has become one of the EDP’s highlights of the year and I’m so very proud that we continue to run them and celebrate just a fraction of the amazing work and achievements in this part of the world.  

“With covid still a consideration, our awards remain slightly different to previous years but no less special. And I think you will all agree that Norwich Cathedral is a very special venue. I would like to thank everyone at the Cathedral for their support. It seems fitting we should celebrate the best of Norfolk and Waveney in one of its best locations.  

Norwich Evening News and Norwich Advertiser editor David Powles. Photo : Steve Adams

Norwich Evening News and Norwich Advertiser editor David Powles. Photo : Steve Adams - Credit: Steve Adams

“I would also like to thank our headline sponsors Hopkins Homes as their support really does help to ensure this event can take place – and Norwich Theatre Royal who have kindly gifted panto tickets to all our winners today.  

“This year we were also able to welcome back some of our winners from 2020. Stars in 2020 was a very different affair, held socially distanced in the Cathedral cloisters, but we wanted to welcome them back to this year’s event so they were able to enjoy a bit of hospitality.  

“Most importantly, I would like to thank every single person or group who was nominated for whatever action or act that saw them shortlisted as one of our finalists. I feel very fortunate that as part of my job I get to read and write about selfless acts, great dedication and outstanding bravery on a daily basis and it never ceases to amaze me just what people are prepared to do for the good of others.  

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“Each and every one of you should be proud of yourselves and proud that someone else or even others felt you were worthy of a nomination.  

“Thank you from the very bottom of my heart. It is people like you that make this region tick and ensure it is the fantastic place we all know and love.”  

Overall Star of Norfolk and Waveney  

Carly Gorton  

Carly Gorton, overall winner of Stars of Norfolk and Waveney 2021

Carly Gorton, overall winner of Stars of Norfolk and Waveney 2021 - Credit: Matt Brasnett

An 11-year-old schoolgirl who captured the hearts of the judges by starting a global change has been crowned this year’s Overall Star of Norfolk and Waveney.  

Carly Gorton led a charity to create its first wig from afro hair.  

Since 2006, the Little Princess Trust has been making wigs from donated hair for children and young people who have lost their own, but the trust said it was previously unable to make ones using afro hair.  

But after finding someone in America willing to take on the challenge, Carly shaved off her hair. The experiment was successful and the wig was donated to a child with cancer in March.  

The judges described her efforts as demonstrating “everything that sums up these awards”.  

They added: “Carly has faced a real challenge, researched and thought through the solutions, and shown real dedication from the tender age of 10 when she started this journey.   

“She is making a real change to society as what she is doing can make a difference to thousands of people. We are a diverse world now and she has reassured an important element of this diversity.  

“She has really put herself forward to raise awareness of an issue which affects individuals both locally and nationally.  

"This young woman is a true inspiration.”  

Organised in-house by the EDP and Norwich Evening News, the awards honour those from Norfolk and Waveney who go the extra mile and deserve recognition.  

Joshua Hopkins said that the day was fantastic. “I feel a little bit overwhelmed by the stories I’ve heard. It’s been fantastic to see what they have to see and to see the looks on their faces.” 

For Mr. Hopkins, community is important both in personal life and in business. “For us, community is at the heart of what we do. I think that’s why we sponsored this event for yet another year. It really does put a spotlight on the community and those unsung heroes.” 

After being awarded both the Young Person of the Year and the Overall Star of Norfolk and Waveney, Carly said she was overwhelmed. “When I got called for the second time I got quite confused. It’s really amazing.” 

She also added that the true win is that people are more aware of the problem of afro hair being treated differently to other hair types. Carly said, “I’m really glad the conversation is happening.” 

Carer of the Year   

Lauren Tubby   

Stars of Norfolk 2021: Carer of the Year winner Lauren Tubby. Picture: Matt Brasnett

Stars of Norfolk 2021: Carer of the Year winner Lauren Tubby. Picture: Matt Brasnett - Credit: Matt Brasnett

A care home manager from south Norfolk who put the residents of a care home before herself, has been crowned Carer of the Year.  

Lauren Tubby, of the Diss area, works at De Lucy House care home in the town. During the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, she left her family home in order to move in with the residents to make sure they were all care for.  

She put her work before her young family.  

On winning the award, she said: “I do feel that I’m still in shock - I just go to work and do my job, but I really couldn’t do it without the support from all my family. My Home, De Lucy House, has just been amazing. My staff are wonderful, my residents are lovely. It’s a family home, not just a care home.” 

Lauren Tubby said that the outbreak of Covid-19 within the Home was her biggest challenge within the last year. “It hit the Home really really hard, just after the Christmas Eve floods, but my staff just continued to turn up to work day and night.” 

Lauren also said that every member of her staff, from cleaners to maintenance men, ‘all have red capes’. 

The judges were impressed by her compassion to those who were vulnerable during lockdown.  

They said: “Lauren put her clients and her job before anything else during the country’s time of need. She put her own life on hold to care for those in need, showing complete selflessness in the face of Covid.   

“We had such admiration for her personal sacrifices.”   

Charity Hero of the Year  

Tim Owen   

Stars of Norfolk 2021: Charity Hero of the Year winner Tim Owen. Picture: Matt Brasnett

Stars of Norfolk 2021: Charity Hero of the Year winner Tim Owen. Picture: Matt Brasnett - Credit: Matt Brasnett

A bereaved father from west Norfolk, who helped to raise tens of thousands of pounds for a suicide prevention charity, has been awarded Charity Hero of the Year.  

Tim Owen, of Shouldham, first hit headlines earlier this year went he embarked on a 300-mile walk from Cumbria to Manchester to Norfolk in just 15 days during October.  

One of three dads who lost a daughter by suicide, Mr Owen was part of the trio which helped to raise more than £825,000 for PAPYRUS, a suicide prevention charity for young people under 35, in memory of their children.  

The judges were moved by the impact of the fundraiser, and described Mr Owen as a “national hero” for helping to raise awareness in order to prevent other families from going through the same ordeal.  

The judges said: “Tim is one of three men who have raised the profile of suicide prevention in an epic and heart-breaking fundraiser.  

“He’s done an incredible job of raising awareness for this most difficult of issues and Norfolk is proud of him.   

“He has shone a spotlight on a very difficult subject and has been inspirational. He’s a national hero.”  

After winning the award, he said that the best part of his experience was the effect it’s had on other people. “We’re opening up a conversation. People don’t want to talk about suicide, but if we just keep hiding this away as a society, it’ll keep going on. We’re losing too many people to suicide and this just shows if we talk about it, people will know where to go to if they’re in a bad place.” 

Community Hero of the Year  

Lily Lancaster   

Stars of Norfolk 2021: Community Hero of the Year winner Lily Lancaster. Picture: Matt Brasnett

Stars of Norfolk 2021: Community Hero of the Year winner Lily Lancaster. Picture: Matt Brasnett - Credit: Matt Brasnett

It is not often that a teenager is willing to give up their pocket money, but that is exactly what a schoolgirl from Attleborough has been doing for the past year.  

Lily Lancaster, 14, carries out random acts of kindness in her local area by giving gifts to the community. At Christmas, she left gifts on doorsteps using her own pocket money to purchase them. At Easter, she distributed 300 chocolate eggs to children and donated more.   

She arranged for Santa to come to Queen’s Square, where she handed out 450 selection boxes to children, and has donated many more to other worthy causes. She has also handed out tote bags with goodies to raise awareness of mental health issues and has raised £356 for Norwich Homeless.   

On winning the award, she said: “The most important part of doing a selfless act is seeing people really happy,” and that she would ‘definitely’ keep up her random acts of kindness in the coming year. 

The judges praised her for being “an exceptional young lady”.  

“She is an inspirational person with how she brings people together - an amazing feat - and on top of that, she’s just 14 years old. Amazing.  

“She has bought her whole community together with her thoughtfulness and is a true role model for young people.”   

Education Hero of the Year  

Catherine (Cat) Elsom   

Stars of Norfolk 2021: Education Hero of the Year winner Cat Elsom. Picture: Matt Brasnett

Stars of Norfolk 2021: Education Hero of the Year winner Cat Elsom. Picture: Matt Brasnett - Credit: Matt Brasnett

A teacher who helped a student obtain a GSCE – a first for the school she works at - has been praised for instilling confidence in her pupils.  

Catherine Elsom, of the Fred Nicholson School, Dereham, works within Orchard, a specialist autism provision situated within the school. This year, she supported a young person on the autism spectrum in achieving his science GCSE, and reaching his full potential with the grades he received.    

From stepping up to the challenge when faced with home learning, to completing a heart dissection on a kitchen table, the pupil was supported from beginning to end.  

The judges said: “She has demonstrated outstanding support for people with severe needs, which makes a real difference to these individuals.  

“She is clearly a creative, amazing, and energy-filled teacher, who has helped a young person achieve a dream of getting a GCSE.”  

Cat unfortunately couldn’t make it to the ceremony. Assistant manager Angus Dixon picked up the award for Cat, and had plenty of praise for her. “Cat is one of the most outstanding people I’ve ever met. She’s a phenomenal educator who works day and night. We see so many young people who come from difficult places and in such a short space of time their worlds completely change. It’s all thanks to Cat and our team.” 

NHS Person of the Year  

Lorraine Snailum   

Stars of Norfolk 2021: NHS Person of the Year winner Lorraine Snailum. Picture: Matt Brasnett

Stars of Norfolk 2021: NHS Person of the Year winner Lorraine Snailum. Picture: Matt Brasnett - Credit: Matt Brasnett

An assistant working on a hospital cardiac ward has praised her entire department for helping to care for their patients.  

Lorraine Snailum, who works at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, has worked in cardiology for 12 years. This year she has been faced with the extra challenge of recovering from surgery herself.   

Previous to the awards, she said every member of the NHS deserves “huge recognition” for pulling together during the challenges of the past two years.  

The judges said: “This is a person who rarely gets recognition. Lorraine has worked tirelessly during a pandemic and deserves praise for her work.  

“Lorraine's energy and support to her colleagues is extraordinary she deserves our sincere thanks.  

“Modest and hard-working, but the backbone of the NHS, hospitals could not function without people like her.”  

On winning the award, she said: “My job is crazy daunting. You’re anxious every day, not knowing what to expect. But it’s just amazing seeing people coming in and then going back out to their families a few days later.”  

Outstanding Bravery Act of the Year  

James Heales    

Stars of Norfolk 2021: Outstanding Bravery Act of the Year winner James Heales. Picture: Matt Brasne

Stars of Norfolk 2021: Outstanding Bravery Act of the Year winner James Heales. Picture: Matt Brasnett - Credit: Matt Brasnett

Usually described as “quiet and unassuming”, a man from Norwich has been praised for helping to rescue a mother and her children.  

James Heales, of Thunder Lane, rescued mother Whitney McKernan-Sullivan with her two children, Zakary and Caleb, from a car inundated with water on Green Lane in December last year.   

It happened when he was driving home that evening and he saw the almost flooded car. He drove around to approach it from the other side of the flood and was able to get all three occupants out of the vehicle and to safety.  

The judges said: “James really did show exceptional courage by saving the lives of people in what could have been a life-or-death situation.  

“It was an extraordinary thing to do and he is a truly brave and selfless person.”  

On accepting the award on behalf of his son, Christopher Heales said: “That day, James came home and he looked a bit wet. It was a bit rainy and I just thought he’d forgotten his coat. He’s very understated and we had to prise what happened out of him. It wasn’t until we read it in the paper the next day that we realised what really happened.” 

Police/Fire Person of the Year  

NFRS Mortality Pathway Project   

Stars of Norfolk 2021: Police/Fire Person of the Year winner, NFRS - Mortality Pathway Project. Pict

Stars of Norfolk 2021: Police/Fire Person of the Year winner, NFRS - Mortality Pathway Project. Picture: Matt Brasnett - Credit: Matt Brasnett

They say it takes a village, and in the case of this year’s Police/Fire Person of the Year, that is spot on.  

Five members of the Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service’s Mortality Pathway Project team have scooped this year’s award.  

The group - made up of Ash Cawston, John Linden, Natalie Rushton, Clive Wells, and CM Spencer Whalley – has shown exceptional stamina and thoughtfulness.  

The project saw the individuals maintain patient flow from hospitals through to the mortuary and funeral directors during the pandemic. From the transport to the logging of the deceased at the temporary mortuary facility at Scottow, the team was given short notice to stand up and alleviate the pressure for local hospitals, continuing the work well into 2021.  

Speaking on behalf of the team, Clive Wells said: “We’re very honoured.” 

When asked about the best part of the job, Natalie Rushton said: “Working with my team mates I think, it was a pleasure to work with. It was not a nice job to be doing, but it was nice to see the team every day, so that made it bearable.” 

The judges crowned the team the winners due to their efforts working through the pandemic in a difficult area.  

Team/Community Group of the Year  

Merchants’ Place Community   

Stars of Norfolk 2021: Team/Community Group of the Year winner, Merchants' Place Community, Resource

Stars of Norfolk 2021: Team/Community Group of the Year winner, Merchants' Place Community, Resource and Learning Centre. Picture: Matt Brasnett - Credit: Matt Brasnett

A non-profit organisation has scooped the title of best Team/Community Group of the Year.  

Merchants’ Place Community, based in Cromer, offers a range of support groups, advice, room hire and more. Recently, the team has launched and continued a range of groups and services that benefit local individuals, including a community fridge and larder.   

The services aim to reduce loneliness and isolation within the community, as well as provide emergency food support and professional advice and guidance. Over 200 individuals and families are supported every week with a range of subjects.    

The judges said: “Rachel and Hannah have used their love of local knowledge to give back to the community of Cromer.  

“This was a truly touching nomination of care and support in the local community which is hugely supportive and is helping so many people.”  

Speaking on behalf of the team, Rachel Sidell said: “We love what we do. It is a job, but it feels more than a job.” 

When asked how the people of Norfolk and Waveney can support a sense of community themselves, Jacqui Barker said “Get to know your neighbours and try and get involved in what’s going on around you. And listen to each other.” 

Unsung Hero/Heroine of the Year  

Ben Poole   

Stars of Norfolk 2021: Unsung Hero/Heroine of the Year winner Ben Poole. Picture: Matt Brasnett

Stars of Norfolk 2021: Unsung Hero/Heroine of the Year winner Ben Poole. Picture: Matt Brasnett - Credit: Matt Brasnett

From being there to listening to helping individuals who are struggling, this year’s winner has gone above and beyond for those experiencing problems.  

Ben Poole, of Lowestoft, is a volunteer amateur and professional boxing coach. He dedicates lots of hours by being a mentor to young people and adults who are experiencing different problems, and is very diverse, treating everyone the same – in particular young adults with autism and additional needs.    

Be it an addiction, or something else, Mr Poole coaches for more than just fitness – he is there to listen too.  

On winning the award, he said: “If you suffer with mental health yourself, you recognise it in other people. Not just adults, the younger ones too. It’s become very evident with the lockdowns. Boxing keeps me and others out of trouble, I owe everything to boxing.” 

The judges said this nomination “stood out” for this category and were impressed with Mr Poole’s ethos.  

“What an inspirational individual.  

“Ben has used his passion to help others in need he also goes out of his way to help others. He has helped a lot of people, is modest and goes above and beyond.”  

Village/Town of the Year  

Aylsham    

Stars of Norfolk 2021: Town or Village of the Year winner, Aylsham. Picture: Matt Brasnett

Stars of Norfolk 2021: Town or Village of the Year winner, Aylsham. Picture: Matt Brasnett - Credit: Matt Brasnett

Like many places, Aylsham Town Council has been active in coping with the demands of both Covid and the pressures that have come from the growth in its population and the prospect of further growth.   

The town has a real community feel and is continually looking to enhance the quality of people’s lives who live or visit the town.  

The recognition of this award goes to the many community groups and individuals in Aylsham who are working tirelessly to make a difference and to support those in need. One example is more than 1,000 free activity packs being handed out to local children and families to enjoy.  

Speaking on behalf of the town, Town Councillor Mary Evans said: “We’re delighted. It really is an achievement. The town really came together during the lockdown. It’s a real community.” 

Toby De Ville Shaw is the Church Warden at Aylsham Parish Church. He said he was thrilled for Aylsham: “We’re slightly biased, but we feel its thoroughly deserved because we feel that Aylsham is a really special community, and it’s a real testament to all of the different community groups.” 

The judges describe Aylsham as “a thriving town” and added: “The facilities here and activities are outstanding. What a super place to live.”  

Young Person of the Year  

Carly Gorton   

Stars of Norfolk 2021: Young Person of the Year winner, Overall Star of Norfolk and Waveney and Char

Stars of Norfolk 2021: Young Person of the Year winner, Overall Star of Norfolk and Waveney and Charity Hero of the Year finalist Carly Gorton. Picture: Matt Brasnett - Credit: Matt Brasnett

When Carly Gorton’s friend lost her hair due to cancer, she was inspired to shave off her afro hair and have it made into a wig – only to be told that it was not possible.  

The 11-year-old, of Southburgh near Hingham, contacted the Little Princess Trust, who specialise in children’s wigs, when she was just 10.  

They said they would not take afro hair as it was impossible to make a wig using it. This made her determined to find someone who could use her hair for a wig. Eventually she found someone in America. Cynthia Stroud agreed to do trials using Carly's hair.   

On December 17, she shaved off her hair in front of a school assembly. It took until February for Ms Stroud and her team to successfully make the first afro wig in British history. In March, the wig went to a child with cancer.  

The judges were impressed with the schoolgirl’s determination, strength, and courage to turn adversity into something positive.  

“What she has done, is extraordinary,” they said. “This inspirational child he has changed the perception and awareness of people with afro hair.  

“Carly is an exceptional young lady who deserves recognition for all of her hard work.”  

On winning the award, she said: “I wanted to cut off my hair to help other children. It seemed very strange to us that the Little Princess Trust said that afro hair was unsuitable to make wigs out of.” 

When asked if she prefers having hair or no hair, Carly said “Hair. It’s very cold out.” 

Judges’ Special Award  

Jonathon and Tanya Childs / Vickie Cunnane

The judges were so impressed with this year’s finalists that they decided to award not one, but two winners of the Judges’ Special Award.  

The finalists for this award are taken from the runners-up of other categories, but whom the judges felt deserved special recognition.  

Stars of Norfolk 2021: Charity Hero of the Year finalist and Judges' Special Award winner Vickie Cun

Stars of Norfolk 2021: Charity Hero of the Year finalist and Judges' Special Award winner Vickie Cunnane. Picture: Matt Brasnett - Credit: Matt Brasnett

Vickie Cunnane, of Chedgrave, was listed as a finalist for Charity Hero of the Year.   

She was diagnosed with Parkinson’s 10 years ago while working as a head teacher at Corton. Determined to fight back, she encouraged 10 staff and their families to join in with a parachute jump that raised £5,000. She has also hosted garden parties, run farmers’ market stalls, and opened a charity shop all to raise funds for charity Parkinson’s UK. To date she has raised £100,000.   

The judges said: “Despite having a debilitating condition, Vickie has raised a staggering amount for a charity close to her heart.  

“This is a touching story of perseverance and ingenuity and selflessness to make the future brighter for others with this illness.”  

On winning the award, she said she was touched, and that it’s amazing because people come from all over the country to make donations to the charity’s cause as it’s the only charity shop for Parkinson’s. 

Stars of Norfolk 2021: Judges Special Choice Awards winners Jonathon and Tanya Childs. Picture: Subm

Stars of Norfolk 2021: Judges Special Choice Awards winners Jonathon and Tanya Childs. Picture: Submitted - Credit: Submitted

Jonathon and Tanya Childs, of The Garden House Pub, Norwich, were finalists for Community Hero of the Year.  

The couple continued to support their community during the pandemic and launched a food bank scheme, water refill stations for the homeless, ran soup kitchens, and supplied emergency food parcels. 

Working with Thomas Frank's, they delivered over 18,000 frozen ready meals, and with Only a Pavement Away handed out over 14,000 meal pouches. They are now working with OAPA on its Winter Warmth campaign. And these efforts are just the tip of the iceberg.   

The judges said: “Their efforts clearly mean so much to so many in the local community. This deserves to be recognised. They have truly lit up the community.”   

Thank you to all our finalists...  

Alison Church / Sarah Johnson / Simon Prince / Fiona Bass / Lee Summers / Matt Head / Jon Emby / Tony Evans / Access Community Trust / Park Radio / Swanton Abbott / Benjamin Fox / Ailsa Sheldon / Richelle Bale / Emma Sturman / Chris Mollett / Patterson Barr / Owen Colbourne 

  • You can find out more about all of our winners and finalists here.
Stars of Norfolk and Waveney 2021 trophy

Stars of Norfolk and Waveney 2021 trophy - Credit: Matt Brasnett

Stars of Norfolk 2021: Overall Star of Norfolk and Waveney winner Carly Gorton. Picture: Matt Brasne

Stars of Norfolk 2021: Overall Star of Norfolk and Waveney winner Carly Gorton. Picture: Matt Brasnett - Credit: Matt Brasnett

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