Indies Community Awards 2023: The 15 winners, aged 7 to 89, honoured for their selfless service or courage in adversity
Another group of unsung heroes of the local community are unsung no more after the Indies Community Awards 2023.
On a night of surprises on Friday, some 140 people – nominees, sponsors, dignitaries and other guests – assembled for the Bishop’s Stortford Independent’s annual celebration of selfless service and courage in adversity displayed daily by citizens of Bishop’s Stortford, Stansted and Sawbridgeworth.
For the first time in the event’s five-year history, The Hilton Marquee at Bishop’s Stortford rugby club was converted into the venue for the glitzy occasion.
After a Prosecco and elderflower spritz reception, the invitees sat down to a two-course meal courtesy of caterer Chives. And as the diners moved onto the sharing cheese platter with coffee and sweet pastries, the awards ceremony, hosted by Indie editor Paul Winspear, got under way.
The stories of each of the 15 category winners were told in a combination of words, photos and videos shot and edited by James Garrett of HNE Media.
The winners ranged in age from seven to 89 – and it was the youngest who got the show under way. The roll of honour was:
CHILD of COURAGE (sponsor: Rayden Solicitors) – Jacob Taylor, 7, is throwing himself into school at All Saints CofE Primary, having spent most of his young life in isolation. By the age of five, he had undergone two bone marrow transplants as well as chemotherapy having been diagnosed with a very rare condition that has meant numerous stays in London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital, which he attended on the day of the awards.
GREEN AWARD (sponor: Golf World Stansted) – Suzanne Melia, “part helping hand, part guerrilla gardener”, for her years of voluntarily tending to public spaces in Stortford including the Old Cemetery, Newtown Road’s sanctuary garden and now the New Apton Day Centre.
BUSINESS PERSONALITY (sponsor: Nockolds) – Bob Weston, chairman of Takeley-based developer Weston Homes, who has raised £1.7m for St Clare Hospice after his mother, father and best friend benefitted from the charity’s care.
BID EXTRA MILE AWARD (sponsor: Bishop’s Stortford BID) – Cafe Mocha, the family-owned cosmopolitan cafe in Devoils Lane, for its personal touches in customer service.
YOUNG CARER (sponsor: Rotary Club of Bishop’s Stortford) – James Windridge, 15, a Hockerill Anglo-European College student nominated by mum Helen for his care of his disabled brother Toby, 12.
UNSUNG HERO (sponsor: RecruitAbility) – Ruth Armistead, who for almost two years has been organising English classes for Ukrainian refugees, adults and children, in Sawbridgeworth.
JOHN TURNER MEMORIAL AWARD (sponsor: Tees) – Anthony ‘Squin’ Clarke, the much-loved Stortford cricket and rugby club stalwart who died in November at 86. His widow Mo collected his award.
CONTRIBUTION to the ARTS (sponsor: Bishop’s Stortford College) – Alison Mitchell, president and long-serving member of Bishop’s Stortford Musical Theatre Company as well as an Army cadet instructor and school PTA veteran.
CHARITY CHAMPION (sponsor: Mullucks) – Siobhan Nundram, chair of trustees of Red Kite, which provides support to victims of rape and sexual abuse.
COMMUNITY CHAMPION (sponsor: Stansted Airport) – TouchPoint Stansted, the multi-pronged community wellbeing organisation which distributes eight tonnes of food a week to 1,500 people in Uttlesford as well as laying on a variety of clubs and activities for all ages at Stansted’s Crafton Green day centre.
CAMPAIGNER of the YEAR (sponsor: Stort Group) – John Robinson, the 89-year-old Bishop’s Stortford Royal British Legion president and chairman who has campaigned for veterans of the UK’s nuclear bomb tests in the 1950s to be honoured and given access to their medical records.
OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT (sponsor: Daniel Robinson & Sons) – Norma Symonds, the former Bishop’s Stortford mayor and local councillor who has used public service as a crusade for compassion for the hurt, the homeless and the hopeless.
SPORTS PERSONALITY (sponsor: Mantle Space) – Harry Marsden, the 22-year-old England karate international who is an inspiration to his young pupils at Pro Karate Academy in East Herts and West Essex.
PERSON of COURAGE (sponsor: Jackson Square) – Julie Walker, the Indie’s Parkinality columnist, who has been tireless in raising awareness of Parkinson’s disease, having been diagnosed with early onset PD at the age of 44. Her win came as a total surprise as she was attending in her capacity as a member of the Indie team.
CARER of the YEAR (sponsor: Home Instead East Herts & Uttlesford) – Debra Barton, 45, the Sawbridgeworth married mother of three who has devoted more than half her life to providing professional care in a variety of settings, and who lives and breathes it on a daily basis to the benefit of friends and strangers as well as charities. There were tears as her elder daughter Ella, 20, a student at Huddersfield University, made a surprise appearance at the finale when Debs thought she was still at uni.
The event was streamed live on the Indie’s Facebook page and can still be watched there. The video has attracted 7,700 views.
One of those watching at home was Joanne Storey, who, on behalf of Pro Karate Academy’s Friday night class parents, nominated Harry Marsden.
She said: “Well done on a fantastic night. We loved watching the amazing people in our community and learning even more about our town. Congratulations on creating something very special!”
To buy the photos in this article, visit https://www.photos.iliffe media.co.uk/f79877998