West Norfolk superheroes, passionate about their community, were singled out for praise at a new awards ceremony held on Wednesday night.
King’s Lynn-based radio station KL.FM hosted its first Local Hero Awards and presenter Charles Dennett said the judges had a difficult task picking winners from the hundreds of nominations.
Triumph over adversity, sporting achievements, community and charity champions were honoured at the event in Lynn’s Corn Exchange.
Tears were shed as the audience heard heart-warming stories. West Norfolk Mayor Carol Bower summed up the evening when she said she was “so proud so see such wonderful people”.
She said the winners were “exceptional” people.
“I have been moved just having seen so many special people, full of love,” she said.
There was entertainment during the evening by West Norfolk Rock Choir and an award was also presented to joint winners of last year’s Rural Community Village Games – Downham Market and Terrington.
The awards were supported by Your Local Paper and other West Norfolk businesses.
Award winners were: Young Person of the Year: Daisy Mason, of East Winch, who was nominated by mum Lucy. The inspirational six-year-old has overcome many challenges and, despite having cerebral palsy, has performed in singing concerts and completed a fundraising triathlon.
Volunteer of the Year: Trudie Smart, 70, of Clenchwarton, runs Norfolk Knitters sessions and has made donations to charities, including knitted hats to the homeless and jumpers for Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
Health Professional of the Year: Stephen Eadie, of North Runcton, is a porter at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital who always goes the extra mile in his work. On one night shift last year he helped to deliver a baby in a corridor at the hospital.
Neighbour of the Year: May Sutherland, 76, of Lynn, was nominated by her neighbour for everything she does in the community.
Four Legged Friend Award: Lindsey Forrest, 35, of Lynn, started Shaman’s Legacy. She has rescued more than 300 dogs and helps find missing canines. She also trains dogs to keep them in their family home.
Sportsperson of the Year: Paul Bastock, 47, was nominated for beating Peter Shilton’s record for club appearances in English football. At the time of his nomination he had 1,250 appearances over 30 years and is Wisbech Town’s goalkeeper.
Charity Worker of the Year: Phyllis Sanderson, 90, of Heacham, has been holding fundraising car boot sales in Heacham, Hunstanton and Snettisham for the Queen Elizabeth Hospital’s League of Friends for many years.
Work Colleague of the Year: John Lebez, 29, of Narborough, was nominated by Katie Cole after he saved her father-in-law’s life when he had a heart attack while driving a teleporter.
Uniformed Service Award: Owen Clarke, 32, of Marham, works in the RAF, volunteers as a first responder serving the whole of Norfolk and has revolutionised the RAF Marham Scout group. His nominator Emily Marchant said he had such a “positive effect on the community around him”.
Teacher of the Year: Leah Hawkins, of Lynn’s King Edward VII Academy, was nominated by students and her husband. Students said she made their week worthwhile and really cared about them.
Carer of the Year: Sophie Burke: Despite suffering from the rare genetic condition, Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, Sophie, 18, of Swaffham, attends college and helps care for her mum and brother who have the same condition. She was nominated for her positive attitude and determination to enjoy life to the fullest.
Triumph Over Adversity Award winner Laura Etherington, 50, of Lynn, was nominated by daughter Ellis after the family suffered a series of devastating losses and trauma. Over the past seven years, she has lost her husband, father and mother-in-law to cancer, caring for them all during their battles. Ellis said her mum was the one who held the family together.
Lifetime Achievement winner Philip Cullen, 80, of Tilney St Lawrence, has worked tirelessly for the village hall committee, serving for 60 years. He is also the longest serving parish councillor. Nominator Anne Thompson described him as a “local pioneer” and a “beacon of light”.