Indies awards: 25 people aged 3 to 89 recognised and rewarded for service, courage and achievement in Bishop's Stortford
Courage, compassion and commitment were the watchwords at the second Indies awards night celebrating the community of Bishop’s Stortford.
At the Rhodes Arts Complex last Thursday (Nov 7), Bishop's Stortford Independent editor Paul Winspear and his co-host, comedian Paddy Lennox, took the audience on a whistle-stop tour of the town’s unsung heroes who teach us all about making a difference.
As well as recognising and rewarding the people who give selfless service to the local community, the event highlighted achievements in the sport and business sectors.
The audience of 150 arrived to a champagne reception and the chance to have photos taken on a red carpet before being ushered through to the auditorium, where they sat down to food provided by Just Add Parsley, of Much Hadham, and wine courtesy of Hanbury Wealth.
With the help of headline sponsor Stansted Airport, it was a chance to say a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to the ordinary people in the area who make extra-ordinary contributions to the community – sometimes seven days a week, 52 weeks of the year – or who have recorded outstanding achievements.
Awards were presented in 13 categories, with prizes provided by generous businesses in the town.
The Indie received around 150 nominations from readers, and the 25 short-listed nominees ranged in age from 3 to 89.
COMMUNITY CHAMPION (sponsored by London Stansted Airport)
Winners: The Bishop’s Stortford Community First Responders, a group of six volunteers – James Richardson, Paul Harvey, Alan Collins, Yvonne Menzies, Allyson Booth and Mark Van Koolbergen – who are trained to attend 999 calls in the vital first minutes before paramedics arrive.
Highly Commended: The directors of the Castle Park parkrun, a free 5k which takes place in Sworder's Field and Grange Paddocks every Saturday morning, attracting more than 400 runners and walkers, and which is organised entirely voluntarily.
YOUNG CARERS (sponsored by Rotary Club of Bishop's Stortford)
Joint winner: Harrison Martin, 14, who has just left Birchwood High School, is carer for his 13-year-old brother, Denis, who has multiple conditions, including autism, ADHD and Tourette’s. He also helps mum Liz with 17-month-old baby brother Bobby.
Joint winner: 12-year-old Samuel Mothersole, who lives at home in Bishop’s Stortford with mum and dad Paula and James, his eight-year-old twin sisters, Abigail and Jessica, and seven-year-old Matthew, all of whom attend Windhill 21 Primary School.
CUSTOMER SERVICE (sponsored by Bishop's Stortford BID)
Winner: Dimitrios and Vaida Tsioupas from Nostimo, the Greek café and deli which this summer moved from the southern end of South Street into the heart of the town centre.
Highly Commended: Alexandra Banks, who owns and runs Epiphany Clothing, in South Street, which has just celebrated its third anniversary.
CHILD OF COURAGE (sponsored by Iliffe Media)
Joint winner: Three-year-old Archie Wilks, who in January was diagnosed with a rare childhood cancer called neuroblastoma. He lives with mum and dad Harriet and Simon, and identical twin brother Henry in Newport. The family are trying to raise £200,000 for specialist treatment in the USA to give Archie the best chance of survival. The night before the awards he was rushed to hospital and the family were unable to attend.
Joint winner: Katie Callaghan, 17, of Birchwood High School, who uses a wheelchair as a result of a connective tissue disorder which causes her frequent joint dislocations as well as chronic pain and fatigue. She launched Cards For Bravery while she was in hospital for four months when she was 13. It has now distributed more than 8,000 messages to other sick children.
CHARITY CHAMPION (sponsored by Mullucks)
Winner: Mandy Reid, from Age Concern UK’s New Apton Centre, for “all the small acts of kindness she performs constantly and for all the support she offers to otherwise isolated members of our community”.
Highly Commended: Denise Hudson, chairman of the Stortford branch of the Royal British Legion and organiser of the town's annual Poppy Appeal.
YOUNG SPORT PERSONALITY (sponsored by Stort Chemicals)
Winner: Bishop’s Stortford Golf Club member Rebecca Earl, 19, who in August won the English Women’s Open Amateur Stroke Play Championship, arguably the greatest ever individual sporting achievement Bishop’s Stortford has known. Last year she started a four-year golfing scholarship in the US and dad Jon surprised her with a Facetime call from the awards, to the delight of the crowd.
Highly Commended: Eleanor Mason, 16, who competes in aquathlon. The Herts and Essex High School girl produced her best ever performance when she won the youth under-17 and junior under-20 titles in finishing fourth in the senior women's event at the national championships in Sussex. She also won a silver in the European championships in Romania and was fifth in the world championships in Spain.
JOHN TURNER MEMORIAL AWARD (sponsored by Bishop's Stortford Independent)
Winner: Ian Hudson, who for nine years has co-ordinated TUBS, the Tidy Up Bishop’s Stortford group of litter-picking volunteers who meet every two months to spruce up a part of the town.
OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT (sponsored by Daniel Robinson & Sons)
Joint winner: Eve Whale, 80, has chaired Thorley Open Door Over-60s Club since 2005. Her service to schools, Brownies, the Women’s Institute and Citizens Advice dates back 40 years.
Joint winner: Tony Springham, 89, is a vice-president at Bishop's Stortford rugby club, where he was named volunteer of the year for his hard work.
YOUNG ENTREPRENEUR (sponsored by Nockolds)
Winner: Former Bishop’s Stortford High School student Ollie Nancarrow, 18, who hit headlines worldwide with his climate change challenge to President Donald Trump in the summer and runs his own business, eco-friendly online marketplace Born Eco.
Highly Commended: Amy Saunders, 21, who runs Floral Desire Florist in Newtown Road and has been commissioned by the Duchess of Cornwall.
BUSINESS PERSONALITY (sponsored by MJ Warner Volkswagen)
Winner: Sid Perry, who owns and runs the “unique and wonderful, life-affirming” Wiggly Willow café at Hockerill, with a focus on those with special needs.
Highly commended: David Hutley, who runs Absolute Vehicle Services in Thorley Street and has helped to ensure that Bishop’s Stortford Round Table’s Santa’s sleigh is roadworthy in time for its Christmas charity collection rounds.
UNSUNG HERO (sponsored by Genmar IT)
Winner: Manor Fields Primary School teaching assistant Sharon Neary for her compassion and professionalism.
Highly Commended: Chris Humphreys, who 10 years ago founded Herts & Soul Community Choir, which has raised £50,000 for local causes.
SPORTS PERSONALITY (sponsored by Tees)
Winner: Jamie Cureton, Bishop’s Stortford Football Club’s player-manager and, at 44, one of only 29 players in the world with over 1,000 competitive appearances.
Highly commended: Keith Woods, 65, youth secretary at Bishop’s Stortford Swifts Football Club.
PERSON OF COURAGE (sponsored by East Herts Council)
Highly commended: Sawbridgeworth’s Emily Day, who took national media to task for sensational headlines after her 20-year-old brother Archie took his own life and his mental health struggles were ignored.
Winner: The awards night ended with a message of hope from 23-year-old Gerard Murphy. Paralysed from the chest down after a diving accident in 2017, the former Hockerill Anglo-European College deputy head boy got a first class degree from Exeter and is now studying for an MSc in Edinburgh despite his disability. His lust for life has inspired a £100,000 appeal by his friends.