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Date published: 24th March 2017

Volunteers who have helped improve their communities were thanked publicly as they were named winners in the Big Society Awards during a ceremony at Sheringham Little Theatre last night.

North Norfolk District Council organised the Big Society Awards to thank the people and the projects that help to create a strong community.

Cllr Tom FitzPatrick, Leader of North Norfolk District Council and Chairman of the Big Society Fund Panel, said: “It has been a pleasure watching such deserving people come here for recognition.

“The winners are of course hugely deserving, but so are the other finalists who may not have won, but should leave here full of pride at their efforts and achievements.”

Cllr John Lee, Chairman of North Norfolk District Council, acted as master of ceremonies at the event.

He said: “The purpose of the evening was to celebrate, recognise and honour a type of work that so often goes unseen and unrecognised – volunteering.

“We say thank you to some of those innovative projects, but especially those people, that help to build a strong community spirit in the area, all for no payment.

“We have heard stories of determination and hard graft; long term planning and dynamic working.

“We have also heard stories of heart rending effort in the most difficult and dangerous of circumstances.”

  • Outstanding Contribution by a Young Person to their Community: Abigail Bunn. Abigail has been nominated for this award as a tribute to her dedication to North Walsham Gymnastics Club and her desire to support the younger members. Abigail is an excellent coach, firm but fair and combined with her outstanding practical work is a real asset to the club. Abigail is looking forward to the club moving to their own dedicated premises later this year.
  • Outstanding Contribution by a Young Person to their Community: Holly Rumsby. Holly has been nominated for this award in recognition of her involvement and fund raising efforts for a number of organisations close to her heart including North Norfolk Surf Life Saving Club and St Johns Ambulance. Holly has raised several hundred pounds by making and selling key rings and coasters. She is a trained first aider and lifesaver and volunteers her skills at public events.
  • Voluntary Services to Young People: Hayley Allard. Hayley has been nominated for this award in recognition of her outstanding work to improve play facilities in Gresham. She has cheerfully volunteered endless hours even with a young baby, her drive and enthusiasm has helped unite the whole community.
  • Voluntary Services to Sport: William Wright. William has been nominated for this award for his dedication to Bradfield Cricket Club. His expert knowledge has helped the club achieve an award winning cricket pitch in 2015 & 2016 that is known for its outstanding playing surface throughout Norfolk. William is a constant source of encouragement to players of all ages, he is greatly respected by everyone he meets and is described as the spirit of Bradfield Cricket club.
  • Community Project 2017: Erpingham Leisure Hub. Erpingham Leisure Hub has been nominated for this award for providing opportunities for all members of the community to participate in a variety of affordable and inclusive sporting activities. This enables the local community to enjoy the physical, mental and social benefits that participating in sport can achieve.
  • Voluntary Services to a Neighbourhood: Dennis Rolfe. Dennis has been nominated for this award for his voluntary services to the community of Itteringham. He has been involved with Itteringham Community Shop for over 20 years and is the longest serving volunteer on its Management Committee. Dennis can be found most days of the week ensuring the shop is fully stocked, assembling weekly orders for the more vulnerable customers, helping teach new staff and volunteers the ropes and managing the animal and bird feed counter.
  • Outstanding Contribution to a Big Society Funded Project: Alexis Thurston. Alexis has been nominated for this award for her dedication to gymnastics in North Walsham through establishing the North Walsham Gymnastics Club for children aged 3 to 15 years. Alexis is the driving force behind the club, is a mentor for younger children, head coach and fund raiser. Her skills and expertise have helped gymnasts attending the club progress to become regional champions. Alexis dream is for the club to have their own bespoke gymnastic club, this will become reality when the club moves to its own building later this year.
  • Outstanding Act of Heroism: David Castleman. On the 23 July 2016 at Sea Palling beach David responded to request for help as there were people who had got into difficulties in the sea. David didn’t hesitate before he plunged into the water and swam 50 metres to reach a man who was unconscious and towed him back to the beach where he regained consciousness and was airlifted to hospital.
  • Outstanding Act of Heroism: James Richardson and Aaron Spencer. On the 19 August 2015 at Pinewood beach at Wells-next-the-sea. The life-saving duo were on a Scout summer activity trip when Aaron spotted a boy in inflatable dinghy having difficulty in getting back to shore. Aaron showed tremendous courage to swim over 100 metres to the boy, before towing him back to shore via the inflatable’s tether line. James then helped Aaron pull him to safety.
  • Those people who played such a large part in the 'before and after' of the January tidal surge were also thanked for their efforts.

Last updated: 16th August 2017