Heroes get their just reward

UNSUNG heroes who fought hard for what they believed in during 2005 have finally seen their determination rewarded.These resolute winners of the Stars of 2005 competition were presented with hampers and certificates by The Evening Star to mark their amazing achievements.

UNSUNG heroes who fought hard for what they believed in during 2005 have finally seen their determination rewarded.

These resolute winners of the Stars of 2005 competition were presented with hampers and certificates by The Evening Star to mark their amazing achievements.

Person of the Year is Naematullah “Matt” Rahmati whose traumatic experiences saw him sent away from the family he loved in Ipswich back to Afghanistan, the country he had fled, before finally returning home in December.

But the 22-year-old said he was shocked when he heard his achievements had made him Person of the Year.

He said: “There were times last year when everything went wrong but I am very grateful for all the support I received from my family and friends, and people who didn't know me but came into the garage where I work to see if they could help because they'd read about my problems in The Evening Star.

“I'm really hoping this year won't be as eventful as the last.”

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Family of the Year went to the Elmy family who fought to raise awareness of testicular cancer after their beloved relative Matt died from the disease last February after a two-and-a-half year battle.

Matt's brother, Mark, said: “I was really surprised to find out we'd won, it was certainly completely unexpected but it's always nice to be recognised.

“The family have really worked together to try to make a difference and I hope that we have reinforced the message of awareness of testicular cancer.”

Finally Richard Lister and Carol Macaskill who worked non-stop to turn the dream of university for Suffolk into a reality won the Team of the Year gong.

Ms Macaskill said: “I'm really proud of what we've achieved, but it has been a real team effort to convince people this is a serious project which will come to fruition, not just an idea.

“This is our first ever award but I hope it will be the first of many as we go from strength to strength.”

The Evening Star's editor, Nigel Pickover, said he was full of admiration for all the winners.

He added: “The story of Matt Rahmati is one of immense courage; we are so pleased that he is now back in the arms of his loving family where he belongs.

“The Elmy family who suffered such a dreadful tragedy have got together to help others and we salute them.

“And what great news from the founding fathers and mothers of the new university whose work has meant that the dream is now coming true.”

Person of the Year - Naematullah “Matt” Rahmati

Mechanic Matt fled from the Taliban's reign in Afghanistan because he believed his life was in danger.

After moving to Ipswich and finding work with a garage he fell in love with Tanya and the couple celebrated their first wedding anniversary on Valentine 's Day.

Yet in august he was flow back to Afghanistan by immigration officials.

Matt's determination finally won through in December when he returned to Ipswich and was granted a two-year visa.

Family of the Year - The Elmy Family

Matt Elmy, who grew up in Witnesham, died from testicular cancer on February 19, 2005, the day before his 32nd birthday.

He was only diagnosed when he refused to leave London's Whipps Cross University Hospital but by then the cancer had spread to his brain, lungs, liver and lymph system.

His dying wish was that his family should highlight the dangers of delayed diagnosis in an effort to prevent others from suffering too, and that is preciously what they have done.

Together they have organised many events to raise money for the Orchid Cancer Appeal, from a gruelling coast-to-coast cycling challenge, to a special gig at the Steamboat Tavern in Ipswich.

Team of the Year - University Campus Suffolk

When plans for a new University for Suffolk were first suggested many people were sceptical that the dream would ever become a reality.

But the team behind the project including Richard Lister, director of academic planning and operations, and Carol Macaskill, business operations manager, worked extremely hard and the project is now in full swing.

University Campus Suffolk (UCS) will open doors to students in 2007 and is expected to generate £1 million a week to the Ipswich economy.