A champion against domestic abuse and a man who rallied to support his community through the pandemic have been hailed as community heroes.

Dan Drake was given the East of England Co-op award for creating the Chantry Community group during lockdown, while Stacey Runciman was nominated in recognition of her efforts in championing women and supporting those in need.

Mr Drake set up the group, which has now grown to more than 8,000 members, in March 2020 to share advice, signpost resources, and support others during the pandemic.

He has volunteered his time and money to run projects including supporting his local food bank, championing local businesses, providing free food to those who needed it most and even replacing a child's stolen tablet.

One nomination said, “He deserves to win as he does so much to bring the community around him together. Everyone needs someone like him in their town".

Another added “he's a fantastic local hero, role model and genuinely lovely person. He has really created a sense of community in our area.”

Ipswich Star: Stacey Runciman (centre), who helps vulnerable woman receives her prize from the East of England co-opStacey Runciman (centre), who helps vulnerable woman receives her prize from the East of England co-op (Image: East of England Co-op)

Ms Runciman publicly speaks out against domestic abuse.

As well as being a public speaker, Ms Runciman is also an advisor on the Future Female Society’s ‘More Than Mum’ programme which supports women to create better futures for themselves, and is a trustee for the Anglia Care Trust.

She has also started her own business helping professionals improve services for vulnerable women.

Lorna Stygall, who nominated Ms Runciman and handed over the vouchers, said: “Stacey received my vote simply because she is one of the most courageous, generous, loving souls to have ever walked the earth in my humble opinion.

"She is my heroine, providing me with the tools I needed to build a new, brighter future and stronger bonds with my family.”

Each of the community heroes received £250 in co-op vouchers as a prize.

East of England Co-op engagement manager, Lynn Warner, said: “Reading through the nominations for this initiative was really quite humbling and showed just how many incredibly generous and compassionate people we have in our region, giving up their time to support our communities.

“Dan and Stacey are each having such a wonderful impact in their local areas and I’d like to thank them on behalf of the East of England Co-op for everything they are doing. I hope they both have a lovely Christmas.”