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Tonight we reveal our Stars of Suffolk award winners 2016

PUBLISHED: 15:35 24 November 2016 | UPDATED: 15:35 24 November 2016

Lizzie Ford's family have been nominated for their selfless act following the teenager's death

Lizzie Ford's family have been nominated for their selfless act following the teenager's death

Archant

From selfless families who have put others first despite dealing with their own trauma to brave teenagers battling life-changing illnesses - these are our Stars of Suffolk 2016.

Members of Suffolk Lowland Search and Rescue training around the county - photo by Pete GabrielMembers of Suffolk Lowland Search and Rescue training around the county - photo by Pete Gabriel

We received hundreds of nominations this year, and each told a heart-warming story of someone who had overcome a major obstacle in their life while remaining positive and upbeat, or someone who had gone above and beyond to make life just that little easier for someone else.

Tonight the finalists in our annual community awards will gather at Trinity Park, near Ipswich to hear who the winners of each of the 14 categories are.

Judges gathered at Hintlesham Hall to begin the 
selection process for the Stars of Suffolk Awards 2016Judges gathered at Hintlesham Hall to begin the selection process for the Stars of Suffolk Awards 2016

Here we meet the finalists - all deserving winners.

Unsung Hero

The Stars of Suffolk winners will be announced on ThursdayThe Stars of Suffolk winners will be announced on Thursday

The family of Lizzie Ford - Lizzie Ford was just 18 when she died from a severe asthma attack - but her amazing legacy saved five other lives.

Just a week before she died, Lizzie spoke to her mother about organ donations - and, following her death, Lizzie’s family bravely decided to honour her wishes to allow her organs to save others.

Lizzie Ford's family are shortlisted for the Unsung Hero award at the Stars of SuffolkLizzie Ford's family are shortlisted for the Unsung Hero award at the Stars of Suffolk

This is exactly what happened - Lizzie’s heart, kidneys, spleen and liver went to desperately ill people and gave them a second chance of life, including a heart transplant for a boy of her own age. Lizzie’s family hope her story will inspire more people to sign the organ donor register.

Samantha Barnes - Samantha is a successful professional artist who uses her skills to embrace learning, foster talent, and promote creativity in her local community. She uses art to reach the most vulnerable people in the local community to give them pride and confidence.

Samantha Barnes is shortlisted for the unsung hero award at the Stars of SuffolkSamantha Barnes is shortlisted for the unsung hero award at the Stars of Suffolk

She has become heavily involved in charity work, and also works on a voluntary basis with local primary and secondary schools, and with vulnerable adults.

Joan Rogers - Joan will soon be 90 years old, but her commitment and enthusiasm for neonatal babies and their families at Ipswich Hospital remains immense. Over the last few years, she has created an astonishing 943 memory bags for families. These are beautiful bags for families to use in hospital and then take home with them to fill with keepsakes from their stay. Joan has spent nearly 1,000 hours creating these lovely bags.

Joan Rogers has been shortlisted for the Unsung Hero award at the Stars of Suffolk.Joan Rogers has been shortlisted for the Unsung Hero award at the Stars of Suffolk.

Hospital/ambulance/medical person of the year

Keren Brooke - Keren, who is play specialist at Ipswich Hospital, has been nominated by Victoria and Robert Bamford for the amazing care and compassion she has shown their daughter Lottie, who was born with complex abnormalities of one of her kidneys. The story is a very inspiring and emotive one, but Victoria and Robert’s words sum it up perfectly: “What Keren does differently is that she passionately cares and fights for the wellbeing of all those children who pass through the hospital doors. It’s hard to explain the genuine warmth and care she offers these children. Everybody can see how the doctors and nurses make the children physically better. But many miss the fact that Keren and her team are protecting them emotionally and physically.”

Keren Brooke is shortlisted for the hospital and ambulance award at the Stars of SuffolkKeren Brooke is shortlisted for the hospital and ambulance award at the Stars of Suffolk

Dr Mike Bairstow - Dr Bairstow responded to the call from the World Health Organisation for medics to use their skills to help fight the deadly Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone. Dr Bairstow, a GP from Framlingham, joined one of the international medical teams for two months. At that time, the infection rate in Sierra Leone was 1,000 new cases a week, and without international intervention it was expected to climb to 10,000 each week. More than nine out of every ten patients were dying.

Dr Bairstow and his fellow volunteers helped to treat and save the lives of many men, women and children affected by Ebola. By the time he left six weeks later, infection rates had fallen, with 60-70 new cases a week and death rates had dropped to less than six in ten. Earlier this year, Sierra Leone was declared free of the deadly Ebola virus.

Dr Mike Bairstow is shortlisted for the hospital and ambulance award at the Stars of SuffolkDr Mike Bairstow is shortlisted for the hospital and ambulance award at the Stars of Suffolk

Paul King - Paul has dedicated his spare time in the last 15 years to being a community first responder in Leiston. He regularly puts in more than 30 hours a week to help save the lives of critically ill patients. This is all on top of his busy day job as a store manager. Paul also acts as a role model and mentor for new responders. Colleagues say you could not meet anyone with more dedication to helping others.

Team of the year

The Teapotters are shortlisted for the Team of the Year award at the Stars of SuffolkThe Teapotters are shortlisted for the Team of the Year award at the Stars of Suffolk

Teapotters - The Teapot Cafe, at McGinty’s in Ipswich, is an eating place with a difference. The team at the Teapot Cafe intercept food which would normally go to waste and turn it into a great menu.

These dishes are then sold on a “pay as you feel” basis, which means anyone can enjoy a hot meal, with no financial barriers. Hugs and work are welcomed in exchange..

Survivors in Transition have been shortlisted for the Team of the Year award at the Stars of SuffolkSurvivors in Transition have been shortlisted for the Team of the Year award at the Stars of Suffolk

Survivors in Transition - Survivors in Transition has an amazing team of volunteers who provide tireless hours of support to adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse from around Suffolk.

Without them, it would be impossible to deal with the unprecedented numbers coming forward for support. They receive no pay and give their time passionately.

The Leiston First Responders have been shortlisted at the Stars of Suffolk awards.The Leiston First Responders have been shortlisted at the Stars of Suffolk awards.

Leiston First Responders - The team answer more than 500 life-threatening 999 calls each year on behalf of the ambulance service. The team of six mobilise within minutes to those in need. This has led to countless lives being saved and many people’s quality of life being assured thanks to their quick response.

Outstanding bravery

David Gammell is shortlisted for the Outstanding Bravery award at the Stars of SuffolkDavid Gammell is shortlisted for the Outstanding Bravery award at the Stars of Suffolk

David Gammell - After an accident while working on a ship at Ipswich docks, David suffered serious head injuries, leaving him with impaired vision and hearing, and a metal plate in his head. The former soldier, who served in Northern Ireland, learned to walk, and speak again, and last year he graduated from UCS with a 2:1 in diagnostic radiography. He works at James Paget Hospital.

David has this message for others who might find themselves in a similar situation: no matter what, you can still do whatever you want to do.

Kim Sale, picturd with her mum,  is shortlisted for the Outstanding Bravery award at the Stars of SuffolkKim Sale, picturd with her mum, is shortlisted for the Outstanding Bravery award at the Stars of Suffolk

Kim Sale - Kim and her family were devastated just over a year ago when they were given the news that a rare form of cancer meant she would have to have a leg amputated above the knee. Kim, now 15, underwent the major surgery last October. Showing tremendous courage, she immediately began fund raising for a prosthetic leg, and has ambitions to compete in the Paralympic Games.

Carer of the year

Paula Davis is shortlisted for the Carer of the Year award at the Stars of SuffolkPaula Davis is shortlisted for the Carer of the Year award at the Stars of Suffolk

Paula Davis - Paula lives with her husband Nick and two children, William and Jessica. William has Complex Touberous Sclerosis, along with a number of other health conditions, which have led to a lifetime of hospital visits, tests, operations, procedures and care. The family can never go on holiday as William can’t tolerate strange environments or destinations. Daily chores often have to be curtailed to ensure his needs are met. Paula has MS, but never, ever complains about ‘her lot.’ She tirelessly campaigns to help other families affected by her son’s condition.

Lenny Southgate - Chris Southgate, Lenny’s son, says: “My dad Lenny has cared for me since my accident in 2003 when I was paralysed in a cycling accident. I am a wheelchair user and have learning difficulties.

Lenny Southgate is shortlisted for the Carer of the Year award at the Stars of SuffolkLenny Southgate is shortlisted for the Carer of the Year award at the Stars of Suffolk

“My dad has been a great support, attending to my every need. He gave up work to look after me and my mum - it’s not been easy and he gets no help. My mum died suddenly in 2014. It hit dad very hard but he still manages to look after me. I would not be where I am without him and my late mother.”

Mandy Talbot - Not only is Mandy a manager at a play school, she has also cared for her daughter Zoe for the last 13 years after she was paralysed when a concrete canopy fell on her. Mandy has also cared for her husband who fell ill shortly after Zoe’s accident. Also, last year, Mandy’s mother had a stroke and she was with her every day as well as looking after her family of five and her 90-year-old father. The person nominating her says: “Mandy deserves this award so much. She’s so kind and lovely, and does so much for everyone else and never moans about anything that gets thrown at her in life.”

Mandy Talbot is shortlisted for the Carer of the Year award at the Stars of SuffolkMandy Talbot is shortlisted for the Carer of the Year award at the Stars of Suffolk

Search and Rescue team

Andy King and the Suffolk Lowland Search and Rescue team - The Suffolk Lowland Search and Rescue team comprises nearly 40 volunteers who are on-call for emergencies 24/7. They come from a variety of backgrounds - anything from lorry drivers to accountants, and police officers to warehouse staff. By their very nature, emergencies can happen at any time - day or night - and the team is always ready to respond.

Suffolk Lowland Search and Rescue are shortlisted for the Search and Rescue award at the Stars of Suffolk - Photo by Edward HeathcoteSuffolk Lowland Search and Rescue are shortlisted for the Search and Rescue award at the Stars of Suffolk - Photo by Edward Heathcote

Recently, they have spent more than 5,000 man hours, or 555 working days, assisting in this search for missing Suffolk airman Corrie McKeague.

Phillip Pearce and Alasdair Nicol - Phillip and Alasdair were working on a coastguard boat which is kept at Felixstowe Ferry when they saw a man in difficulty in the water. Despite having no kit with them, they carried out a rescue operation to save the man and searched for another person who it was feared was also in the water.

Phillip Pearce and Alasdair Nicol are shortlisted for the Search and Rescue award at the Stars of SuffolkPhillip Pearce and Alasdair Nicol are shortlisted for the Search and Rescue award at the Stars of Suffolk

They called for back-up, but were well aware they had to act fast to save the man’s life - which is exactly what they did.

Chris Matthews - Chris is a dedicated volunteer for the lifeboat crew in Aldeburgh as well as being an on-call ambulance first responder. It is normal for Chris to dedicate more than 30 hours a week to being on call to respond to emergencies and help the local community. All this on top of his busy “day job” as a store manager. Chris’ commitment means he goes above and beyond in terms of dedication and this is driven by his passion to help those in need.

Chris Matthews is shortlisted for the Search and Rescue award at the Stars of SuffolkChris Matthews is shortlisted for the Search and Rescue award at the Stars of Suffolk

Sporting achievement

Bailey Fleming - Bailey, who is 20, was born with cerebral palsy, but that has not stopped him playing regular football, CP football for England, and he is training to be a coach.

Bailey Fleming is nominated for the Sporting award at the Stars of SuffolkBailey Fleming is nominated for the Sporting award at the Stars of Suffolk

He has faced abuse on the pitch, but he turns a blind eye to it and lets his talent speak for him. He is a shining inspiration for all other young sportsmen and women.

Lucy Turmel - Lucy is a phenomenal young squash player, whose list of achievements is incredible. Lucy has won the Suffolk junior squash championship since the age of 11, and has been under 19 champion since she was 14. She won both the England and British girls under 17 championships in 2015, and is currently number three in the national under 19 rankings. Lucy was part of the England team at the World under 19 championships who won a bronze medal this year - their best-ever result. If we listed all of Lucy’s extraordinary achievements, we would need a whole page - suffice to say she’s a true Suffolk sporting superstar.

Lucy Turmel is nominated for the Sporting award at the Stars of SuffolkLucy Turmel is nominated for the Sporting award at the Stars of Suffolk

Young person of the year

Kaden McKenna - Kaden died, aged just nine, in January this year, five weeks after being diagnosed with leukaemia. Despite his serious illness, Kaden always thought of others first, raising money for Addenbrooke’s Hospital, where he was treated, and, when he was able to spend Christmas at home, he bought presents for other children who weren’t so lucky, and had to stay in hospital.

Kaden McKenna, who tragically passed away earlier this year, is shortlisted for the Young Person award at the Stars of SuffolkKaden McKenna, who tragically passed away earlier this year, is shortlisted for the Young Person award at the Stars of Suffolk

Kaden’s school described him as “one of the nicest boys we’ve had the privilege to be with.”

Connie Gibbs - Connie Gibbs is an inspirational Suffolk person who, with her father and aunt, has raised more than £30,000 for St Nicholas Hospice in Bury St Edmunds in memory of her mother, Zena.

Connie Gibbs is shortlisted for the Young Person award at the Stars of SuffolkConnie Gibbs is shortlisted for the Young Person award at the Stars of Suffolk

Connie’s original target was to raise £10,000, but this has been more than tripled. Staff and students at King Edward VI Upper School in Bury, where Connie studied, have fully supported her fund-raising efforts, Her former headteacher Geoff Barton describes her as “an extraordinary inspiration.”

Ben Munson - Ben, 13, is in his second year at Thomas Gainsborough School in Sudbury. He readily and generously gives hours of his time to the Befriending Scheme in Sudbury. The Befriending Scheme provides friendship and learning opportunities for adults from vulnerable groups, including those with learning disabilities, mental health needs and older people. Ben is a kind and caring young man with a great perception of what is needed.

Ben Munson is shortlisted for the Young Person award at the Stars of SuffolkBen Munson is shortlisted for the Young Person award at the Stars of Suffolk

Police hero

Sgt Ali Livingstone and Pc Ali Maidment - This heroic pair risked their lives last Christmas Day to rescue an Ipswich woman from her burning house. Seconds after they hauled the woman from her home, an explosion shattered a window, raining glass down on them. After the rescue, Sgt Livingstone described it as “the most frightening incident in his 16 years of service.”

Ali Maidment and Ali Livingstone are shortlisted for the Police Hero award at the Stars of SuffolkAli Maidment and Ali Livingstone are shortlisted for the Police Hero award at the Stars of Suffolk

The two Alis are no strangers to Stars of Suffolk - seven years ago they received an award for saving the life of a suicidal man who was threatening to jump from a multi-storey car park in Ipswich.

PCSO John Hood - John Hood dived into the waves off Felixstowe to save four teenage girls in a rubber dinghy who were in danger of drifting out to sea. In a very short space of time, the dinghy had drifted 150 metres out to sea and one of the girls was in the water. In John’s own words: “I could have stayed on the beach and called the Coastguard, but I know I am a strong swimmer, I know the water, and I made a decision to go in.”

John Hood  is shortlisted for the Police Hero award at the Stars of SuffolkJohn Hood is shortlisted for the Police Hero award at the Stars of Suffolk

By the time John - who has a pacemaker - reached the dinghy, it was 250 metres offshore. He grabbed a rope and towed it back to the beach as he swam. A happy ending - but it could have been very different.

Maureen Allen - Maureen is a police control room operator. Earlier this year she received the Archant award for the calm way she dealt with a call from a very distressed man who was threatening to jump from the top floor of a multi-storey car park in Bury St Edmunds. Maureen’s calm manner led directly to the man changing his mind - thereby saving his life. She says: “They can’t see a way out, but from my perspective there’s always a way out.”

Maureen Allen is shortlisted for the Police Hero award at the Stars of SuffolkMaureen Allen is shortlisted for the Police Hero award at the Stars of Suffolk

Community champion

Alan and Celia Comber - Alan and Celia are involved in many aspects of running the very successful 1st Kesgrave Scout Group. They do anything from organising and attending Scout camps to jumble sales and fairs held at the Scout hall, to providing the barbecue at the village fireworks.

Alan and Celia Comber are shortlisted for the Community Champion award at the Stars of SuffolkAlan and Celia Comber are shortlisted for the Community Champion award at the Stars of Suffolk

“They are also involved with Kesgrave News and Kesgrave market, with Alan also being a town councillor. They are the type of people who always go the “extra mile,” but also the type of people who never give themselves credit for the tireless voluntary work they do.

Adrian Rawlinson - In the last year, Adrian has raised thousands of pounds for St Elizabeth Hospice by taking on two gruelling challenges. First he took part in the London to Paris ride, where his fellow cyclists voted him the most motivating team member. Then he braved torrential wind and gales to cycle the 315 miles from Newcastle to London in 24 hours following the death of his sister from cancer.

Adrian Rawlinson has been shortlisted for the Community Champion award at the Stars of SuffolkAdrian Rawlinson has been shortlisted for the Community Champion award at the Stars of Suffolk

To top it all, Adrian won an extra £10,000 for the hospice by winning an online public vote. If every good cause had a champion fundraiser like Adrian the world would be a better place.

Tony Gearing - Tony is the founder of YOPEY, which stands for Young People of the Year. Tony realised that, at the other end of the age range, there are two million over 65s in the country who are lonely. From that realisation came YOPEY Befrienders. Tony trains young people to go into care homes and befriend elderly residents, many of whom have dementia. This has proved inspiring for many of the young people involved. He has set up schemes in Suffolk, Nottinghamshire and Hertfordshire, and is hoping to start up in Norfolk and Cambridgeshire as well.

Tony Gearing has been shortlisted for the Community Champion award at the Stars of SuffolkTony Gearing has been shortlisted for the Community Champion award at the Stars of Suffolk

Volunteer of the year

Marian Staples - Marian has worked at Suffolk Rape Crisis since the day it opened its helpline to support women and girls who have experienced any kind of sexual violence. To her colleagues, she is not only a volunteer but also a friend.

Marian Staples  is shortlisted for the Volunteering award at the Stars of SuffolkMarian Staples is shortlisted for the Volunteering award at the Stars of Suffolk

The people she supports get a great deal from talking to her, and she has never let them or her colleagues down. Marian is the longest-standing volunteer at Rape Crisis. She has supported many people who are at crisis point. Colleagues describe her as “AMAZING”.

Carol Lukins - Carol is a hero to many people. In the last 36 years, she has helped tens of thousands of children - both here and abroad - to get fit and active through various physical education programmes. She has also helped hundreds of young people who have got themselves into trouble to receive the support they need.

Carol Lukins  is shortlisted for the Volunteering award at the Stars of SuffolkCarol Lukins is shortlisted for the Volunteering award at the Stars of Suffolk

She has worked with Suffolk police, supporting young offenders, has volunteered with the prison service, has been a member of the Royal Navy Auxiliary Service and for 15 years has served as a first aider with the Red Cross. And for the last 20 years she has saved dozens of lives as a volunteer with Felixstowe Coastguard Rescue Team. She hasn’t been paid a penny for any of this work. She is an example to us all.

Paul Seymour - Paul has been a volunteer at St Elizabeth Hospice for the last six years and colleagues say they couldn’t do without him. He’s been a volunteer receptionist, is now a day care driver and has also been the “go-to” person to arrange the delivery and collection of giant pigs from around the country on behalf of the hospice’s Pigs Gone wild team - his talents are never ending. Paul is also chairman of the Rotary Club and he heads up a charity called Tools for Africa. Colleagues describe Paul as a complete star.

Paul Seymour is shortlisted for the Volunteering award at the Stars of SuffolkPaul Seymour is shortlisted for the Volunteering award at the Stars of Suffolk

Armed services award

Staff Sgt. Richard Odame and Senior Airman Jacob See - USAF servicemen Richard Odame and Jacob See were in separate vehicles when they came across a woman lying beside the road after being struck by a car while riding her bicycle on a dark and foggy night.

Richard Odame has been shortlisted for the Armed Services award at the Stars of SuffolkRichard Odame has been shortlisted for the Armed Services award at the Stars of Suffolk

The pair’s military training kicked in, and they directed traffic away from the injured woman and made sure she was kept calm and warm until the emergency services arrived. Richard said: “We are all human and we need to take care of each other. Being overseas, we need to be ambassadors for our country and leave a positive impression here in the UK.”

Royal British Legion drop-in centre, Lowestoft - The Royal British Legion branch at Lowestoft has gone out of its way to set up and provide a formal drop-in advice service for serving and former military personnel and their families in a deprived part of Suffolk.

The Royal British Legion drop in centre are nominated for the Armed Services award at the Stars of SuffolkThe Royal British Legion drop in centre are nominated for the Armed Services award at the Stars of Suffolk

The staff at the centre are all volunteers who have had special training. They have seen more than 800 people, dealing with pension enquiries, funeral issues, benefits, veterans with post traumatic stress disorder, and drugs issues, as well as a homeless veteran who was sleeping on the beach. The volunteers have also made more than 50 home visits to housebound people and offer a telephone befriending service. These are all volunteers giving their own retirement time to help the service community, and they have gone over and above what would normally be expected.

Kevin Knight - Kevin is a service member of our armed forces and still finds time not only to volunteer as a community first responder for the ambulance service but also leads the RAF community responder team. His team are there every day, ready to provide care and support to patients in Suffolk.

Kevin Knight has been shortlisted for the Armed Services award at the Stars of SuffolkKevin Knight has been shortlisted for the Armed Services award at the Stars of Suffolk

Fire service

Daniel Newton - Daniel is a committed retained firefighter, volunteering for both the Aldeburgh and Saxmundham crews. He is now training for the crew commander role at a young age. He is a dedicated and passionate individual who always gives his all.

Daniel Newton has been shortlisted for the Fire Service award at the Stars of SuffolkDaniel Newton has been shortlisted for the Fire Service award at the Stars of Suffolk

Recently, when a car was driven into water at Snape Maltings, Daniel was the first to volunteer to wade in to help the stricken driver and passenger, who were disabled.

Green Watch from East Ipswich and Princes Street fire stations - “We can’t save everybody. We’re not superheroes.” Those were the words of one member of the Ipswich-based Greenwatch team after a house fire tragedy. They are very modest words from a fire-fighting team which risks life and limb to rescue people, if not on a daily basis then certainly very frequently.

Ipswich Green Watch have been shortlisted for the Fire Service award at the Stars of Suffolk awards.Ipswich Green Watch have been shortlisted for the Fire Service award at the Stars of Suffolk awards.

An example happened at the end of March this year, when they were called to a bungalow fire in Fuchsia Lane, Ipswich. As they arrived, they saw flames coming from one of the windows and licking up the side of the wall and up the roof. They went in, found two casualties, two elderly men, and got them out, despite the very real dangers they were facing. Sadly, one of the men died, but that in no way diminishes the courage and sheer professionalism shown by Green Watch at this fire and so many other serious incidents.

The judges will name their winner of each category on Thursday evening and they will also name their overall Star of Suffolk.

A special recognition award will be presented plus a special judge’s award.

See live coverage online on Thursday night plus a special eight-page supplement in print on Monday.

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