Stars of Norfolk and Waveney winners revealed
- Credit: Nick Butcher
They're the lifeguards who saved your neighbour's son from drowning and the midwives who helped your sister give birth.
They're the volunteers who organise our town carnivals, the veterans who fought for our freedom and the fundraisers who keep our vital charities alive.
No matter what line of work or emergency situation they found themselves in, the finalists in this year's EDP Stars of Norfolk and Waveney Awards are all heroes.
And last Thursday, more than 250 people flocked to Sprowston Manor near Norwich to celebrate their sterling efforts.
With their hearts full of pride, the winners of our 13 categories (pictured below) made their way to the stage in turn to accept a crystal trophy and a special gift, tailor-made to suit their interests.
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The winners had the chance to speak about what they had done to be nominated, and each of them was greeted with the cheers and applause from the audience.
There were also a couple of special recognition awards given out, and an overall Star of Norfolk and Waveney Award to one individual our judges decided deserved particularly high praise.
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This top award went to Sarah Barrett, 19, who had earlier in the evening won the Young Person Of the Year Award.
Miss Barrett, 19, started a website, fightthestigma.uk, after fighting her own battle with mental illness.
She said she was thrilled to have been named the night's overall Star. Miss Barrett said: 'I'm still in complete shock. It's amazing.
'I didn't realise what I was doing would have so much of an impact.'
Following a violent attack at a young age, Miss Barrett was hospitalised after self-harming and multiple overdoses when she was 14. After making a recovery, she wanted to find a way to help others who were struggling with their own issues, and came up with the idea for Fight the Stigma.
She said her advice could be boiled down to two words: 'speak out'. She said: 'Speak to the somebody you trust.
'Even if it's someone you don't know well and you're just speaking to them in a support group, at least you're telling someone.
'Don't keep it all to yourself because it just ends badly'.
Miss Barrett was given prizes including voucher for a day of cinema and shopping with friends and a fish-eye lens, as she is an enthusiastic photographer.
The other finalists in the Young Person category were Nelson's Journey volunteer Owen Leeder and Ezara-Mai Downes, who fundraises for the Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity.
At the end of the night, EDP editor-in-chief Nigel Pickover thanked everyone involved in organising the awards, including Ros and Mick Parker from Parker Communications and the awards' host, Nick Conrad.
High praise for life-savers
Another worthy winner was Peter Dukes, 84, who picked up the Search and Rescue Person of the Year Award. Mr Dukes (pictured, bottom), from Poringland, has saved the lives of countless people over an astonishing six decades as a lifeguard.
He said he was thrilled with his award. He said: 'I didn't expect it because there are so many excellent people here. I feel just small compared to them.'
Mr Dukes is a member of Lowestoft Volunteer Lifeguard Corps and was founding member of the voluntary lifeguard group in Norwich in 1960s. Peter has also kept up his fitness to such a good level it helped him to recover from cancer.
He said: 'I know its unusual to see a lifeguard at 84 years of age but a few of us do exist and, while we can do it, we will keep on helping to save as many people as we can.'
Mr Dukes said he had a simple safety message for families at the beach. He said: 'When you're on the beach, keep the kids in reach. When you take your children or your grandchildren to the beach, you become their lifeguard for the day.'
Mr Dukes' prize was a voucher for lunch, afternoon tea, dinner, overnight and breakfast at the Hotel Victoria in Lowestoft.
The other category finalists were Keith Griffin and Eleanor Jones.
Also honoured was Luke Woodley (pictured below, left, with Norfolk County Council leader Cliff Jordan), who won the Armed Services Person of the Year Award.
Mr Woodley developed post traumatic stress disorder when he was serving in Bosnia with the Coldstream Guards in 1993.
After he left the service he set up the Walnut Tree Project, a group that offers veterans a non-medical 'front door' through which to access the help they need to deal with their mental health and linked social issues.
Mr Woodley said he was honoured to have won the award, which Normandy veteran Ivan Spall, and Thomas Bradley, a dedicated volunteer who was also in the armed forces, were also nominated for.
He said: 'When you see a D-Day veteran in category, you think: I would be happy to lose. It's a great honour.'
Mr Woodley said he remained thankful to the people who saved him from mental illness, and wanted to continue helping others.
He said: 'I was very lucky to be able to work with Dr Roger Kingerlee. He and the Norfolk and Suffolk Mental Health Trust saved my life and if we can help other veterans connect with those specialist services that are a now available, that's what we'll keep on doing.'
He added: 'While I might be person that won it, there are a lot of people who work hard behind the scenes to make sure these veterans find their way to safer and happier times.'
Mr Woodley's prize was a hamper full of gifts for his family.
Groups are praised for their work in the community
At each year's ceremony, a special award is handed out to a group or individual which works tirelessly to make a difference in the community.
This year, two such groups were honoured with Special Recognition Awards.
The first of the evening was presented to the Sandringham Flower Show Committee.
Praising the group, EDP editor-in-chief Nigel Pickover said: 'While it has grown into one of the largest events of its kind in the country, the show has never lost sight of its traditions.
'And like the first event, more than 130 years ago, today's mammoth undertaking is still organised and run by a volunteer committee.
'These stalwarts don't just make sure all the marquees are in the right place, the loos work and the likes of you and I have a fine array of gardens, stalls and displays to enjoy.'
Mr Pickover said the committee donated thousands of pounds to charity each year, and had given more than £500,000 to good causes since 1977.
He said: 'Over the last few years, it's given more than £50,000 to the Norfolk hospice, Tapping House.
'It's bought a pony for a disabled riding school, helped a young woman buy an artificial hand, given to day centres and countless other groups.
'While the committee can't guarantee the weather on show day, their sterling work has helped make the sun shine for thousands, long after the marquees are cleared away.
'Almost as soon as the showground is cleared, they start work on planning the next year's show. We thought it was time to recognise their incredible efforts.'
Norfolk and Waveney's inshore and offshore lifeboats and volunteers
They risk life and limb on a regular basis to save those in peril on the sea and on our inland waterways.
And this year our Stars of Norfolk and Waveney judges decided to give a special thank you to the region's in- and offshore lifeboat volunteers.
This joint Special Recognition Award was presented to the lifeboat teams from Caistor, Mundesley, Well-next-the-Sea, Hembsy, Sea Palling, Happisburgh, Hunstanton, Sheringham, Cromer, Great Yarmouth and Gorleston and Lowestoft.
Not every team was able to send a representative to the awards, but those that did were greeted with cheers and a standing ovation.
Eric Dixon, who read out details of the evening's award winners, said: 'The region is a proud coastal community, with its links to the sea and other waterways playing a huge role in its economy and cultural heritage.
'While these natural assets bring great opportunities, the North Sea in particular presents a challenge – even to the most experienced seafarers – and the wrong weather conditions can prove deadly.
'This county, therefore, owes a huge debt of gratitude to the volunteer lifeboat men stationed across Norfolk and Waveney who routinely risk their own lives to save that of others, who head out knowing there is a real possibility that they might never see their family or friends again.'
Each crew was given a donation to its funds as well as a crystal trophy.
Award for editor-in-chief
He's has been a stalwart of regional journalism for the past 45 years.
And at this year's ceremony, EDP editor-in-chief Nigel Pickover was presented with a special award for his unique contribution to East Anglia and its community.
Norwich Evening News editor David Powles took the stage to pay tribute to Mr Pickover, who joined the Ipswich Star in 1994 after starting his career in Sheffield.
Mr Powles praised his contributions over the past four years at the helm of the EDP and Evening News.
Mr Powles said: 'That desire to make a difference hasn't waned and there have been numerous notable successes for both titles under his watch, most memorably the EDP Flood Appeal, which saw a staggering amount of cash raised to help those affected by the 2013 storm surge.'
Mr Pickover plans to retire at the end of the year, but will continue as the EDP's editor emeritus.
Team of the Year Award
The members of this team of dedicated volunteers venture out at night to provide hospitals with an emergency transport service for blood, plasma, platelets, samples, vaccines, donor breast milk and other urgently required medical items. They do it night after night come rain, hail or moon-shine. It's a life-saving service and it's provided completely free of charge to our NHS.
SERV's costs are met in their entirety by donations from members of the public, fundraising events and corporate sponsorship.
SERV's prize was a donation to help keep the service running. The other finalists were BACT Community Transport and Emmaus Norwich at Ditchingham.
Hospital/Ambulance Hero of the Year Award
As a senior midwife co-ordinator at James Paget University Hospitals in Gorleston, Mrs Cole sees the cycle of life played out at its most beautiful, and occasionally, it's most tragic. She's known as a hard-working and compassionate health care professional who always puts the needs of the patient first. Mrs Cole was nominated by a family who lost their prenatal baby, who said: 'Emily embodies all that is best about James Paget. She made us feel welcome, cared for, respected, safe and in control during a very vulnerable time.'
Mrs Cole's prize was a day of spoiling and pampering at the Aqua-Sana at Centre Parcs. The other finalist was Tracey Bareford.
Outstanding Bravery of the Year Award
Neil Ramsay & David Castleman
Tragedy struck at Sea Palling in July this year when four men got into trouble when they were swimming in the waves.
Although one man sadly died, the incident could have been much more serious if it wasn't for the brave actions of some of those on the beach. One of them was 14-year-old David Castleman, from Essex, who plunged into the waves to help the men to safety.
Another was Neil Ramsay, from Norwich, (pictured above, centre) who also helped the men out of the water and administered CPR.
Mr Ramsay's prize was a day of culinary delight at Norwich's Assembly House.
The other finalists were Kane Mallett-Rial and Lisa Ambrose, Angela Marnoch and Lucy Attelsey.
Community Group or Champion of the Year Award
Mrs Cordiner, 70, has helped hundreds of 'silver surfers' to use computers and the internet since setting up Ludham Computers in her home village among the Norfolk Broads more than five years ago.
She devotes at least 10 hours of her time a week to the cause. Mrs Cordiner said she was delighted to have won the award. She said: 'I couldn't have got this far without the support of about 20 people over the past 10 years because they've committed their lives as well. They are the amazing people. Come and join us because we're user friendly, we do one-to-one tuition so you're not in a class, you're being treated as an individual. That's what makes it such a success.'
Mrs Cordiner's prize was box of presents, each with a star on it. The other category finalists were Kickstart Fakenham and Andy and Sammi Barnard.
Carer of the Year Award
It's not so common these days to clock up a quarter of a century with the same company, but that's exactly the milestone reached by Janice Parslow-Williams before her recent retirement.
Mrs Parslow-Williams was a carer for Manorcourt Homecare, a job she did for the love of it. Janice's former colleague who nominated her said she is 'the kind of person you would want to look after your loved ones'. Janice also cares her four sons and 10 grandchildren. And even though she has faced hardship and loss in her own life, she has never let it affect her attitude to her job or devotion to those she works with. Her prize was a trip to London to see the theatre show Stepping Out, and some spending money. The other finalist in this category was Sherena Skedge.
Outstanding Sporting Achievement of the Year Award
Alfie Hewett's story is well known, but it's still incredible. When he was just six, he was diagnosed with Perthes Disease in his left hip and confined to a wheelchair. But there's nothing 'confined' about Alfie Hewett, and certainly not his optimism or spirit. Now aged 19, Mr Hewett is one of Team GB's biggest stars, winning silver medals in both singles and doubles in wheelchair tennis at the Rio Paralympics. Mr Hewett is now ranked eighth in the world men's singles rankings, fourth in doubles, and second overall in the UK. His prize was a bag of Norwich City Football Club goodies, and tickets to see his team take on arch-rivals, Ipswich Town.
The other finalists were Charles 'Len' Cousens and Connie Adam.
Volunteer of the Year Award
Jean and William George
From Cantley in Norwich, this remarkable couple dedicate their lives to fundraising for local charities, hosting annual charity sales and restocking a stall in their garden. Mrs George is constantly washing and ironing clothes whilst her husband, known as Billy, deals with electricals and repairs bicycles to sell. They have raised more than £70,000 between them. Despite Mrs George battling cancer and Mr George recovering from a heart attack, this couple shows no sign of slowing down their fundraising efforts.
Their prize was VIP tickets to the Christmas Spectacular at Thursford.
Other finalists were Phyllis Ecclestone and Margaret Wynn.
Police Person of the Year Award
PCSO Norman Drew
PCSO Drew is someone who never takes a day off, and is known as a friendly, witty and hardworking chap who is an inspiration to all he works with.
Since 2012 Norman has put all his effort and commitment into the Lowestoft Emergency Service Cadets.
He volunteers his time to lead the group and is considered a first-class role model.
PCSO's prize was a voucher to use at his favourite restaurant, The Wherry Hotel, and some iTunes vouchers.
Other finalists in this category were PC Sally Nairn and PC Stuart Watson.