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See inspirational Stars of Suffolk winners honoured at Trinity Park awards ceremony

PUBLISHED: 08:00 10 November 2017

Overall Star of Suffolk 2017, Eve Brooks-Parkin, receives her award. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Overall Star of Suffolk 2017, Eve Brooks-Parkin, receives her award. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Archant

The inspiring finalists of the Stars of Suffolk awards gathered last night for a glittering ceremony at Trinity Park, near Ipswich.

Diana Porter receiving her Special Recognition Award from Minnie Moll from the Co-op.   Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN Diana Porter receiving her Special Recognition Award from Minnie Moll from the Co-op. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Nominations for the prestigious awards opened in April when people were asked to nominate people or groups who had gone out of their way to make Suffolk a better place to live.

A total of 41 candidates were shortlisted, with hundreds of nominations having been received, and 18 awards were presented including a number of special and surprise categories.

The Stars of Suffolk awards honour people of a range of ages and from different walks of life; from community cafes to emergency service heroes and outstanding charity volunteers.

Unsung Hero of the year –Mat Bayfield of Broadside Boys with his bride to be Kelly Pritchard.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN Unsung Hero of the year –Mat Bayfield of Broadside Boys with his bride to be Kelly Pritchard. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

But here could only be one Overall Star of Suffolk – and that was 15-year-old Eve Brooks-Parkin from Sudbury, who also took home the Young Person award.

Eve was nominated for her tireless charity efforts, having volunteered with the Eden-Rose Coppice Trust since she was 10-years-old. The trust uses woodlands in Sudbury and Ipswich as a sanctuary for patients with physical or mental health problems.

Eve has also spent her free time during school holidays at the charity’s holiday clubs helping improve their mental attitude.

Guests enjoy themselves at the ceremony.    Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN Guests enjoy themselves at the ceremony. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

It is thought Eve’s efforts have helped around 240 children – some with profound learning difficulties – to boost their self esteem.

After receiving the award, Eve said: “The work I do in the woodland, I don’t see it as anything incredible or special.

“It means a lot because I didn’t think anyone would notice.

The ceremony was held at Trinity Park, near Ipswich.    Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN The ceremony was held at Trinity Park, near Ipswich. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

“It’s nice to know that someone has been looking out.”

Among the other winners on the night was Shaun Whiter who took the Judges’ Special award.

Shaun was about to join Newmarket Town FC in July 2016 when he was hit by a car. His injuries were so bad, doctors were forced to amputate both his legs.

Macauley Elvin performed for the audience.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN Macauley Elvin performed for the audience. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Shaun has since impressed doctors with his ability to recover and the speed with which he has taken to using his prosthetic legs.

Buoyed by the support he received during his own recovery, Shaun decided to take part in the ITFC Tour of Suffolk bike ride by using a hand cycle.

The 28-year-old was part of the more than 100 strong team which took part in the event in May this year, helping to raise money for the air ambulance.

Macauley Elvin is releasing his song Hollow for an autistic charity.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN Macauley Elvin is releasing his song Hollow for an autistic charity. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Shaun’s determination also saw him succeed in walking unaided down the aisle to marry his fiancée Charlotte in July.

Shaun, who couldn’t make the ceremony but sent a message via video link, said: “Thank you for this award, it’s a massive honour.

“My journey has been crazy. It’s been up and down. We have had a lot of tears but I have got there and I have achieved what I wanted to achieve which is walking down the aisle for my wedding. Everybody here deserves a round of applause for what they have done.”

Guests enjoy  themselves at the Stars of Suffolk Awards 2017.    Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN Guests enjoy themselves at the Stars of Suffolk Awards 2017. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The Unsung Hero of the Year award went to charity fundraiser and folk musician Mat Bayfield, who is one half of the Broadside Boys. The Framlingham man was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour in 2012 and spent a long time in Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge.

Mat decided to set up long walks through the Suffolk countryside to help him lose weight and raise money for charity.

Since then Mat’s Walk and Talk challenge has grown from just 16 walkers to over 500 and has helped to raise £20,000 for the Brain Tumour Charity.

Eve takes her well deserved award. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN Eve takes her well deserved award. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Mat, who was in Addenbrooke’s the night before the awards, said: “The brain tumour has unfortunately returned and

I’m about to embark on chemotherapy.

“My journey is still going on and I have to tell everyone out there to forget the word stress.

Diana Porter on stage with Mark Murphy  receiving her special  recognition award.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN Diana Porter on stage with Mark Murphy receiving her special recognition award. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

“What we have got here tonight, there’s some wonderful people around this room that can make a difference.”

He said of his brain tumour, which he has called Brian:

“Brian is not going to win this game”.

Mat had the audience on its feet when he revealed he had asked his long term partner, Kelly Pritchard, to be his wife.

One of the biggest surprises of the evening was for Diana Porter, chief executive and founder of charity Fresh Start – new beginnings.

Diana set up the Suffolk based charity in 2012 to support children and young people who have been sexually abused.

She used her own redundancy pay to set up the service which has since helped more than 900 people across Suffolk, Norfolk and north Essex.

Diana has worked with children and families for 40 years both in England and Africa. During this time she specialised in child protection and has worked with a number of charities.

Letters of support from people who have been helped by Diana and her team were read out at the ceremony.

One said: “You gave us back our hope and our daughter ... Diana you are exceptional.”

Diana said: “The kids are fantastic, what they have been through and how they come back ... we are a positive charity – there is life after sexual abuse.”

See Monday’s edition for a special eight page pull out on the awards ceremony.

Copleston High School has received an updated Ofsted rating after the education watchdog visited for the first time since 2013. See the full report here and the principal’s reaction.

NHS England has issued a health alert ahead of coming cold weather.

The 80s are officially back, with Fame The Musical coming to the Ipswich Regent later this year.

A yellow weather warning for snow has been issued for much of the Eastern region, including Suffolk and Essex, next week.

A man’s body has been found in an Essex river in circumstances police are currently treating as “unexplained”.

Chefs from some of the region’s best restaurants are cooking a five course supper in aid of Teenage Cancer Trust this spring.

Rail commuters on the region’s mainline this morning are likely to face disruption after the over-running engineering works closed the line between Stratford and Liverpool Street.

Suffolk church leaders have been left confused and irritated by the repeated vandalism of their visitor book.

Highways England is set to answer some key questions on Orwell Bridge closures next week, as bosses address councillors in Ipswich on the latest measures.

Talented students at Suffolk New College organised and filmed their own Jools Holland-style show showcasing some of Suffolk’s brightest talent.

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