South Norfolk: Winners of the Community Awards 2022 announced

South Norfolk Community Awards attendees

South Norfolk Council celebrated the stars of their communities last night (14 July) at a special awards event held at Barnham Broom.

The South Norfolk Community Awards event, now in its tenth year, recognise and celebrate all the dedicated hard-working volunteers that give up their time to help make South Norfolk a fantastic place to live, work and visit.

Clarion Futures, the charitable foundation of Clarion Housing Group, sponsored the event and South Norfolk Council Chairman, Councillor James Easter, presented the awards to the deserving winners at the ceremony.

Cllr Easter said:

“It was a real honour to meet so many kind-hearted people who give their time so generously to help others. I was overwhelmed by their moving stories which demonstrate how strong the community spirit remains in South Norfolk. I would like to say thank you to everyone who is working so hard to make a difference, not just the winners, but the runners up and everyone who was nominated, you are changing lives for the better and that is a wonderful achievement.”

Matt Parsonage, Head of Communities at Clarion Futures, said:

“We’re delighted to have sponsored this year’s South Norfolk Community Awards that celebrate the contributions of local businesses, community groups and volunteers, and would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the winners. Community spirit and support has been more important than ever during the last couple of years due to the pandemic, and it’s great to see local people coming together to make a difference in their local area.” 

The winner in each category received £250 to give to their chosen community group or voluntary organisation.

Inspiration of the Year was awarded to Robin Twigge from Harleston Swan Hotel. Robin and his team are the centre of the Harleston community, either by providing a venue for events, collection points for donations or his kitchen to provide school meals. Regardless of the cause, he, his partner Vicki and his team are always happy to help.

This year’s Young Hero was awarded to Harmony Wilders. Harmony is a school leader and has been supporting other young people in the school, making them feel at ease, particularly the new year 7 pupils. She is also Young Commissioner on the South Norfolk Youth Advisory Board, working to champion the voice of young people.

Leah Ardley won the Helping Hand Award, sponsored by Castlemeadow Care. As a volunteer for PSS Shared Lives Norfolk, Leah finds great new carers in the district and supports them throughout the process. Judges noted how she always goes the extra mile and even did a virtual interview with a new carer whilst on holiday.

Rosedale Funeral Home won the Business in the Community Award, sponsored by Upp Broadland. Rosedale was praised for understanding how bereavement can affect a person, often causing isolation and loneliness. The team has gone above and beyond, providing ongoing free bereavement support for customers, and runs events such as walks of remembrance, Christmas church services, and community quizzes and bingo nights.

The Green at Heart Award, sponsored by HSBC, was awarded to Henry Gowman, who has chaired the South Norfolk Tree Wardens Network for seven years and is the Tree Warden for Poringland. During the last 20 years Henry has been instrumental in getting some 30,000 trees planted which has had a great impact on our environment. He also chairs Poringland and District Men’s Shed.

Volunteer of the Year, sponsored by Smurfot Kappa, was awarded to Linda Buck. Linda, alongside fellow volunteers, has worked tirelessly to re-open the MS Society Norwich and District Group. She has grown the number of volunteers and helps run a range of activities as well as providing information and support to those with multiple sclerosis.

ChetChat won Community Group of the Year. ChetChat helps to tackle loneliness in the community by offering practical help to the over 60s, as well as helping to create potential new friendships. Its volunteers do everything from picking up prescriptions to shopping, dog walking, gardening and helping with transport. Several of the volunteers are retired and so have a foot in each camp –   qualifying for help but ready and willing to share their kindness with strangers. 

Lou Hines was hailed as the Community Hero of the Year and the judges were so impressed by her work that they felt she should be awarded this year's Special Recognition Award as well, sponsored by Clarion Futures. Lou was bereaved of her son through suicide and has turned this experience into an incredible driving force to save others. Through her tremendous efforts, a support group was created for young people battling mental health difficulties that has now been running for almost five years and helped over 150 youngsters. Facilitated by Nature & Nurture Therapeutic Services, this support group gives young people a safe space to meet with others.

Published: 15 July 2022