THURROCK people showed their grit and determination, reaching the Backstage Centre at High House Production Park, Purfleet, on Friday evening for the 2016 Civic Awards, sponsored by Keepmoat.
Traffic gridlock in the west of the borough delayed the event’s start by 90 minutes, but people found their way through, by rail, by car (eventually) and even by foot.
Once proceedings were underway the audience heard stories of Thurrock people and community organisations going above and beyond to support their neighbours, friends and communities.
The trials and tribulations of getting to the venue were forgotten once the food was served and the first awards announced by BBC Essex’s James Whale.
First on the list was the Stronger Together Community Award, won by Jenny Codling who has been running the Tilbury branch of the Food Bank for a number of years.
In all there were nine awards, culminating in the Mayor’s Award for Lifetime Achievement which was won by Demus Lee – a name and face well known across the borough for his years of work and involvement in many different organisations, including chairing the recent Fairness Commission.
Mayor of Thurrock, Cllr Sue Gray, speaking afterwards, said: “I really feel for the judges. It must be difficult to choose between so many well deserving people and organisations.
“And, while there always has to be an overall winner in each category, each and every one of the nominees – and not just those shortlisted tonight – should be proud of themselves and all that they do. They really are our unsung heroes.
“It is also important to thank all of our sponsors, including the main event sponsor, Keepmoat.”
More than Â£700 was raised for the mayor’s charity – the Thurrock Community Chest with raffle prizes donated by local businesses.
The winners were:
Mayor’s Award for Lifetime Achievement – sponsored by HW Wilson Ltd
Demus Lee is passionate about Thurrock and the people who live here, constantly campaigning and involved in so many groups. Local people have benefitted from over Â£2 million in grants and fundraising as a direct result of his dedication.
Stronger Together Community Award – sponsored by Stronger Together Partnership
Jenny Codling has been running the Tilbury branch of the Food Bank for a number of years bringing people together and making them feel included in their community. She also regularly volunteers and is irreplaceable.
Jan Thurnell has been active within Scouting in Thurrock for nearly 50 years and for the whole time she has been involved in the Gang Show. In her 40 years as Director, she has inspired many hundreds of young people to display their talents on stage.
Mark Adams has worked with hundreds of children in the local area in the last 20 years, has been involved with raising money for cancer research and the club also works closely with the Jack Petchey foundation.
Environmental Champion – sponsored by Anglian Water
Sandra Still has been a volunteer warden for Essex Wildlife Trust for over 20 years helping manage one of the largest (41 acres) reed beds in Essex at Stanford Warren and managing a team of volunteers.
Young Achiever Award
Sam O’Neill is actively involved in the work of the Youth Cabinet including reviewing health services in Thurrock, counselling training with The Samaritans, working with local transport and training with Essex Police to become a hate crime ambassador.
Business in the Community – sponsored by the Thurrock Enquirer
Madstones Ltd is a local company employing local people, has been involved with a number of projects across Thurrock, including donating and maintaining the Holocaust Memorial in High View Gardens, Grays.
Healthy Living Award – sponsored by Procter & Gamble
Corringham and Stanford Community First Responders have been running for four years. Trained in basic life support by the East of England Ambulance Service, the volunteers attend life-threatening emergencies and are often first at the scene.
Rachel Middleton Award – sponsored by the Thurrock Gazette
Barrie Lawrence has dedicated his life to some sort of service to the people of his community, a councillor and an active member of his church, Barrie has retained many of his connections and remains positive despite debilitating illness and injury.