Video & Galleries: Stars of Suffolk honoured

TEARS, joy, inspiration and jaw-dropping drama - Suffolk's heroes and heroines created an unforgettable evening.

TEARS, joy, inspiration and jaw-dropping drama - Suffolk's heroes and heroines created an unforgettable evening.

Hundreds of guests at the spectacular Stars of Suffolk Awards ceremony were treated to a kaleidoscope of emotions last night.

They watched in awe as incredible footage was shown of police officers saving a suicidal man over the edge of an 80ft building.

They were touched when a brave teenager who lost all his memories and nearly died following a moped accident was presented with a bicycle to help him learn to ride again.

And they welled up as they watched the overall Star of Suffolk and winner of the Outstanding Bravery award burst into tears.

The black tie event, organised by Suffolk County Council and The Evening Star, was held in the Atrium of Endeavour House.

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After a buffet dinner, the guests were entranced with a beautiful performance by 18-year-old Suffolk singer Laura Wright, who made history as part of record-selling classical group All Angels.

During the award presentations, each winner received a trophy and a surprise, tailor-made gift for their achievements.

Volunteer of the Year winner, Penny Parker was delighted when a new three-piece suite she desperately needed was brought from behind the stage.

“Five puppies have eaten my one,” she said.

Sue Eastwood was overjoyed when she was presented with �500 towards a theatre break to London after being named Carer/ Foster Carer of the Year.

Sue, from Bury St Edmunds, said: “Thank you so much for Jenny Overett for nominating me and my husband Barry without whom I couldn't have done this.”

Paramedic Paul Gedney was also honoured for his lifesaving heroics and he walked off stage with a new laptop, which will improve the work he does teaching community first responders and the British Red Cross.

And Inspirational Teacher John Richards was given a top-of-the-range digital camcorder to enhance his already superb teaching methods.

Meanwhile, Unsung Heroine of the Year Nikki Reynolds was overcome with emotion when her autistic spectrum disorder club was gifted a �500 lifeline.

Nikki, of Kingsmead Road, Stowmarket, said: “We really need the money, but just being nominated was amazing enough. It will enable us to go on much longer.”

The Fire Person of the Year winning team and Best Neighbour, Joyce Mitson, of Sudbury, have VIP dinners at Hintlesham Hall to look forward to.

And Search and Rescue Person of the Year, Jonathan Harvey, a volunteer rescuer, went home with a much-needed dry suit.

Meanwhile, David Rae, winner of the Hospital Hero of the Year for his lifesaving surgery, was described by Ipswich Hospital chief executive Andrew Reed as one of the best surgeons in the country.

Mr Rae, from Woodbridge, said: “It was an absolutely fantastic evening.”

MANDY Gavin is shining brightest today after being crowned the overall Star of Suffolk.

Courageous Mandy received the top honour after also picking up the Outstanding Bravery award for saving Clare Scarfe's life.

Mandy spared no thought for her own safety when she hauled nurse Clare from her burning car seconds before it exploded.

Clare was a stranger to Mandy, but they have become great friends since the accident in Hadleigh in November.

Mandy, of Fritton Close, Ipswich, couldn't be at the awards ceremony because she was on holiday in India, but the audience was shown a video of the emotional moment she was told she had won.

Modest Mandy was shocked and shed a few tears as she was overcome with joy and surprise.

But incredibly she declared that she would be lost without Clare.

“If anything has come out of this, I know Clare is a true friend,” Mandy added. “I don't know what I would do without her.”

Mother-of-two Clare, 34, of Vale Lane, Kersey, also couldn't make the evening as she is undergoing gruelling physiotherapy for a broken leg sustained in the accident.

She told The Evening Star: “Mandy is amazing. If it wasn't for her I wouldn't be alive.

“I am so thrilled she has been recognised for such a wonderful achievement. There is no way in the world I will ever be able to repay her. She is such a lovely lady.”

BRAVE Kyle Knights lost all his memories after a horrific moped accident, but he has made a remarkable recovery which doctors thought they would never see.

The 17-year-old, who won the Courageous Child award, has been re-learning all aspects of his life and last December enjoyed the experience of his “first” Christmas all over again.

The Ipswich teenager has also overcome immense pain and numerous operations to battle back from injuries that could easily have killed or paralysed him.

He is now studying at Otley College and has been learning how to read, write and talk once more.

And very soon, Kyle will start learning to ride a bike again - with the help of a special prize given to him last night.

The former Chantry High School pupil was asked on stage to choose one of three bikes pictured on the big screen.

After doing so, the one he had chosen was ridden through the audience and he was presented with the new bike, courtesy of Elmy Cycles in Ipswich.

Overall Star of Suffolk and Outstanding Bravery

Mandy Gavin spared no thought for her own safety when she pulled Clare Scarfe from her burning car seconds before it exploded. Her heroism has had an extraordinary impact on Clare's life and the pair are now great friends.

Volunteer of the Year

Penny Parker has been fundraising tirelessly for Guide Dogs for the Blind and has been a familiar face in The Evening Star since looking after future guide dog, Star. She also finds time to be a full-time carer as well as running the 1st Old Felixstowe Brownies.

Carer/ Foster Carer of the Year

Sue Eastwood has provided a safe and loving home for dozens of children for many years as a foster carer for Suffolk County Council. Sue does not close her front door at the end of the working day - she willingly cares 24/7 with the “patience of a saint”.

Courageous Child

Kyle Knights has battled back from serious brain injuries and broken bones after being hit by a car two days after his 16th birthday. Doctors feared he would never recover, let alone walk again. He also lost all his memories and has just celebrated his first Christmas again.

Fire Service Person of the Year

Firefighters Simon Thompson, Mick Lowther, Richard Clarke and Ian Brooks were the ultimate team when they saved an elderly man's life by rescuing him from a burning house in Newmarket. With the fire raging around them, the crew found the victim in the bedroom and helped him down a ladder to the waiting ambulance.

Ambulance Person of the Year

Paul Gedney's quick-thinking saved Chris Palmer's life as he lay dying after a motorbike crash. With Chris's collapsed lung forcing air into his chest - a condition that can kill in minutes - Paul performed a rare operation using a tube to release the air through his chest.

Police Person of the Year

Pc Alistair Maidment and Sgt Alistair Livingstone displayed extraordinary courage beyond their duty when they grabbed hold of a suicidal man who tried to throw himself off an 80ft car park.

Search and Rescue Person of the Year

Jonathan Harvey is a dedicated teenager who has flown up the ranks in the Felixstowe Volunteer Coastal Patrol since joining at the age of 14. He has unselfishly put himself in harm's way and has already been involved in several life-saving rescues and helped fight a serious fire to save the burning Felixstowe pier.

Best Neighbour of the Year

Joyce Mitson has found time around caring for her disabled husband to look after a 90-year-old neighbour. On her pearl wedding anniversary, she and her husband, Bill, paid for 36 friends to have dinner out.

Inspirational Teacher of the Year

John Richards willingly gives up his time to take after-school classes at his house. The Grundisburgh Primary School teacher is also organising a big music concert for all the primary schools in the area. The children love him and he has been described as the “pied piper”.

Unsung Hero/ Heroine of the Year

Nikki Reynolds won thanks to the tireless work she does running the Stowmarket Autistic Spectrum Disorder Club in Stowmarket. Faith Lewis, whose six-year-old daughter Molly goes to the club, said Nikki has revolutionised her family.

Hospital Hero/ Heroine of the Year

David Rae has saved many lives with his cool head, most notably that of Gavin Elliott who was being attacked by a flesh-eating superbug.

LAST night's event was made possible in large part thanks to the following sponsors:


EDF Energy

PJ Roofe

Hintlesham Hall

Arnolds Produce

Ipswich Town Football Club

Cipher Crystal


DBC Foodservice



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