Unsung heroes from around Tendring have been recognised in the district’s own version of the New Year’s honours list.
The 19 recipients of this year’s Pride of Tendring Awards, an honour which is now celebrating its 10th anniversary, have been unveiled today (21 January, 2022), following an absence of the awards last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
All the recipients will be officially recognised and presented with their award at a special ceremony at Clacton’s Princes Theatre, being held on 11th February 2022.
Pride Of Tendring Awards celebrates those from all walks of life who make a real difference in their community, the awards are run by Tendring District Council (TDC) and are supported by the East of England Co-Op.
District councillors put forward nominations from a wide variety of groups, organisations and individuals throughout Tendring, all very deserving of an award. TDC Chairman Jeff Bray thanked everyone who is supporting the awards. “Right across Tendring there are so many deserving people, and nominations came
in from all around the district,” Cllr Bray said. “The standard has been high, and the Pride of Tendring Awards is our small way of recognising some of those who give up their time for our community, not seeking reward or recognition for what they do.
“After the awards took a break last year due to COVID, I cannot wait to get this event back underway, which has now hit the significate milestone of its 10 th anniversary. I look forward to meeting and thanking all the winners at the ceremony in February.”
For 10 years, Christopher became his Mums main carer as his Dad was the main wage earner. His Mum has been in and out of hospital since he was 4. As he got older he did everything for her, including personal care, dressing and food requirements. He went to the sports college to train in sports but after qualifying they found he has a severe back issue and could never play sport, he did play some football. He went into depression for a year and only focussed on his Mum. After losing 3 stone and gaining back his confidence he went on to help a local resident who has 2 sons, one has severe special needs. Christopher built a strong relationship with the boys and gained the trust of them. He spends time with them and helps the family out by babysitting and taking them out to play, giving the parents a break.
When his Mum was well enough he would help look after his great grandmother and was the one that helped her when she fell. During COVID, if I called to see his Mum and Dad he would offer to help if I needed prescriptions delivered and for those who were in lockdown.
All his effort in caring for his Mum has had an impact on the people around him and made her life and those of his family and friends more rewarding. Although he never has asked for thanks, this is one way others can show how grateful they are.
Lads Need Dads
Lads Need Dads (LND) was birthed in Tendring in 2015, in recognition of the disproportionately negative impact the lack of a father figure can have on the mental wellbeing, educational achievements and life outlook of boys. Coming from an extensive background in both the statutory and voluntary sector, working predominantly with males, Sonia Shaljean recognised that this reality had yet to be acknowledged as a powerful social construct that urgently needs addressing. Lads Needs Dads, with the help of committed and trained volunteers from the community, seeks to equip, engage and inspire boys with absent fathers or lacking a male role model to reach their full potential.
Their stated mission is ‘to empower and enable boys aged 11-15 with absent fathers, or limited access to a male role model, to be motivated, responsible, capable, resilient and emotionally competent to PREVENT them from becoming at risk of underachieving, offending, exclusion or dropping out of school’.
LND has been recognised on a national level with awards including the Queens Award for Voluntary Services 2020 and winners of the CSJ National Family Award 2018 but has yet to be fully recognised by our district or TDC. Their work is growing and expanding to educate and support single mothers of boys, with a vision to extend this support nationally. Working closely with schools, and the third sector, Lads Need Dads are also very proc-active in raising awareness. They are regularly consulted by the media and speak at Parliamentary select committees, being among the first organisations to speak at the All-Parliamentary Group for Men and Boys in 2021. They are currently conducting research across Essex Schools exploring the impact of the absent father on boys’ education, behaviour and emotional well-being with a hope to implement a flagging system in schools so boys with absent fathers are identified and provided with support and intervention, early.
Lads Need Dads work with boys long-term, throughout their adolescence. The first ranch of graduates has just moved on, some have gone on to volunteer as mentors themselves. Others have progressed on to University because they have learned to believe in themselves and found their purpose. The work of LND has had an inspirational effect on the boys they mentor, that will affect the rest of their lives and their families, and the communities in which they live. The work is being noticed because it is addressing a reality that has been neglected up until to now. This is work affecting a marginalised part of society and making a real difference. LND deserves our utmost respect and admiration for the amazing work they do and are absolutely deserving of recognition by Pride of Tendring.’
Clacton Lions are part of Lions Clubs International, the largest Non-Governmental Organisation involved in service and charity. The Club is a service organisation which fundraises for charitable purposes and cooperates with other charities and not-for-profit. For a local group who formed in 1979, celebrating their 40th anniversary in 2019 and with only 33 members, they achieve so much to help those who require support in their daily lives. Due to their extensive fundraising efforts, they will be able to continue donating funds to support local food banks, local support groups, Performing Arts Clubs, as well as recycling & repurposing items that would otherwise end up in landfill. They have also been able, again through their fantastic efforts, to supply a number of AED defibrillators across Clacton and Holland on Sea.
Harwich International Shanty Festival
(Director, Pam Fitzgerald & organising committee)
Over the period of 16 years, the Harwich International Shanty Festival has come from a few friends meeting up in a Harwich pub to sing sea songs over a few beers, to become the premier shanty festival in the UK and an internationally renowned event. Throughout that time, the organising committee has increased their dedication and time devoted to putting on the festival to a remarkable degree.
The event now attracts thousands of visitors to Harwich over a long weekend and includes; pub sessions, concerts, street theatre, barge trips, maritime crafts and a Shanty train. In non-Covid times, shanty singers and groups visit Historic Harwich from across Europe and the rest of the world to be part of this remarkable festival and it has a major positive impact on both the local tourist economy and profile. The level of commitment required from the organising committee is vast and the sense of responsibility has become immense.
Possibly their biggest achievement is that, although the festival has grown beyond belief, it still retains its original ethos of cosy and friendly pubs with friends meeting to sing songs of the sea over a glass of something cheering. The organising committee, led from the very beginning by Pam Fitzgerald, is now the custodian of a unique event that is the envy of the world of sea songs and they have given our district and Harwich in particular an event that we are extremely proud of. For all that they have done and continue to do they are worthy recipients of a Pride of Tendring award.
Mrs Lesley Pallett
Lesley has for many years been a stalwart of the community of Manningtree, Mistley and Lawford, involved in much of village life and wildly respected. For many years she was the local reporter for the Manningtree Standard and was entirely trusted and respected by the media industry and more importantly, her community.
She has been involved in organising so much. Lesley was secretary of the Welcome Home and Memorial Charity for more than 25 years. This charity, although loved and supported by the community, was always short of income but despite this she was able to secure grants and donations which provided new play equipment, benches and other facilities.
Lesley was a Lawford parish councillor for six years, taking a hands on approach to caring for her local area. She has served on Lawford parochial church council, was poppy appeal organiser in the three parishes for at least ten years, was secretary of the carnival association, helped raise the funds to replace the wooden St John Hall with a brick building and is currently secretary of The Friends of Foundry Court, a charitable organisation which provides activities and support to the elderly in Manningtree and the surrounding villages. Lesley is a trustee of the Leander Cottages and 16 years ago was a founder of Lawford Walkers, although unfortunately now unable to take part. It is entirely fitting she should be recognised as a Pride of Tendring.
Vaccination Volunteers – Community Voluntary Services Tendring
When the call came through to CVST a few weeks before Christmas 2020 to support the first vaccination hub in the country with volunteers, it was all hands on deck to step up and help. Almost overnight, CVST’s volunteer co-ordinator, Nicola Vella, identified 21 existing volunteers who agreed to help in that first week. A massive volunteer recruitment programme followed and the numbers soon rose to a total of 211 volunteers covering 3 shifts a day, 7 days a week in Clacton initially and within a month, in Harwich too.
By the end of March 2021, volunteers had helped to process 99,999 vaccinations! Anyone who received their vaccination at the former St Helena site in Clacton or at the Fryatt Hospital in Harwich would have received a cheery welcome from one of the dedicated team who have racked up over 12,000 hours of volunteering in the past year and their volunteering efforts are set to continue for some time with booster clinics. Out in all weathers, they have been manning car parks, signing people in for their appointments, taking temperatures, filling in forms, keeping corridors flowing and providing invaluable support to our amazing NHS.
Clacton Litter Pickers
For the duration of about 4 years, Sue Wheeler and Brenda Davidson have been the inspiring women that drive this group. Volunteers, who want to do their bit, meet up at different locations every Sunday and Wednesday to try to keep Clacton tidy. Many of these community minded volunteers regularly litter pick in their own areas as well as joining the group activity. The pictures of the rubbish they collect are posted on Facebook, and beggar belief at times. They range from getting shopping trollies out of water (Pickers Ditch), discarded mattresses and tyres to the dropped convenience food wrappers. There was even a stolen bike, from the Jaywick project, found on one such litter-pick which was returned to its owner via the project coordinator. One dreads to think about the state of our area if these people did not take the time to help their community by collecting the amounts of rubbish that is dumped needlessly and I know they do not do it for thanks, but I think that a show of appreciation goes a long way.
There would be vast amounts of rubbish and fly-tipping left for the council to collect assuming it got reported in the first place. So a tidier Clacton which maybe the council will be inclined to keep cleaner. The regular picks will hopefully have an ongoing effect in that the amounts of strewn rubbish becomes less, unfortunately not necessary because people are behaving better but because it is being kept on top of. There are those that think litterers will be less likely to change as they know someone will clear up after them, but hopefully more people will become involved in keeping their areas tidy and challenge this anti-social behaviour.
Cinque Port Liberty of Brightlingsea
Since 1885, the Cinque Port of Liberty’s role has changed over the years to give support to the community via fund raising for Christmas lunch, outings for vulnerable groups, afternoon teas, support social evenings and liaise with local schools for pupils to attend the visit of the Mayor of Sandwich.
Keeping Brightlingsea and national history alive, as it has done since 1885, continuing to give support to the local community in many different ways.
Tendring Community Transport
Tendring Community Transport was formed in June of 1993 and gained charitable status in March 1999. TCT provides transport services for those in need because of age, poverty, mental and physical disabilities.
2020/21 was a very difficult and stressful year for Tendring Community Transport due to the pandemic. When the government announced that we were going into a national lockdown in March 2020, their services (with the exception of the hospital hopper) were wiped out overnight. They closed their offices in March and their CEO worked from home until the beginning of June. They had to adapt to a new way of working, their service users suddenly found themselves unable to go out, due to their age, most of them were told to shield. They continued to operate the hospital hopper for vital medical appointments, they were no longer transporting individuals to the supermarkets, social clubs or to visit friends and family. They were supporting service users in different ways making sure they had essential food supplies, arranging for food parcels to be delivered. They were also a voice on the end of the line listening to people who were anxious, scared and lonely.
Pauline Mann and her team always go the extra mile for the residents of Tendring, they are like a family to all, and I’m proud to put forward for a Pride of Tendring Award.
Mrs Sharon Robinson
Sharon Robinson has lived in Mistley for many years with her husband Jamie with whom they restarted the dormant branch of the Royal British Legion which had been abandoned since 1974. Ever since the Manningtree Branch had been resurrected, she has been Jamie’s most excellent support to the innumerable ceremonies performed at various War Memorials around the District, which had likewise been missing in our communities for a long time. She has masterminded all Poppy Collection Appeals which have taken place locally over the past several years, she has been out in all weathers with them, rattling her tins in various places around Manningtree, and she has collected tens of thousands of pounds over the years.
Just recently, she set up the very successful North Essex Veterans Support Group, which gives enormous help and support to any ex-Veterans who have left the Her Majesty Armed Forces. The range of this support is through direct contact with the ex-servicemen and ranges from a merely social interaction to a much more involved assistance depending on individual need; this could be because of loneliness, housing issues, financial help, and health issues such as PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome) or any other problems.She has set up the increasingly successful North Essex Veteran breakfast Club at the Crown Public House, Manningtree which has been growing very steadily since its launch in the summer.
Sharon is a truly inspirational lady who would always put others first, and who would always go out of her way to help and resolve problems, just as she did during the pandemic when right at its offset back in March 2020 she set up the invaluable Covid Support Group and co-ordinated help to hundreds of our local residents with home shopping, prescriptions delivery, or any other lockdown derived issue by the army of volunteers she enlisted in her ranks. Sharon has rendered an invaluable service to the communities of Lawford, Manningtree, and Mistley and it would be truly wonderful if she could be recognised with a “Pride of Tendring” Award.
Judy is very well known in Great Bentley village for always volunteering, and being available when an extra pair of hands are needed. If cakes, scones, and help with food preparation is needed for fundraising events, church events Judy is always prepared and ready to help, and her cakes and scones are always very tasty. More recently due to the high traffic volumes now through the centre of the village, there has been the need to have traffic bollards strategically placed to prevent parking at the busiest times of day, Judy ensures they are in place, and cleaned on a regular basis. She is well known for the caring of stray cats, and ensuring in some cases they are caught to go to a recognised cat rescue to be re-homed. Judy also has a strong voice, if she sees or hears of something that is detrimental to the village i.e. road closures when no authority has been given to close a road, she is very quick to let the local district Councillor know.
Judy just likes to be involved, have her say, she is always prepared to help and does not in some cases wait to be asked, she is just there, as and when needed. I have given only a very brief description of what Judy does for Great Bentley, but due to the fact that she is always available to help in many areas and has been over many years, I believe she deserves to be recognised with a Pride of Tendring award.
Keep Great & Little Oakley Tidy Campaign – Catherine Cocker
Formed in 2018, Catherine Cocker’s level of enthusiasm and determination is infectious. What started out as a random ad-hoc litter pick is now in its 4th year. Residents and visitors have recognised and acknowledged the importance of the efforts of the loyal volunteers in keeping and maintaining our villages presentable and pleasant.
Shelly has been part of the village for over 30 years, always an integral person in the preparation, planning and execution of village events. She does this from a very ‘behind the scenes’ approach, going about her business in a calm and organised manner. If a last minute hiccup creeps in, Shelly is always able to remedy the problem, always someone we can turn to and always someone that is happy to help.
She has been involved at Thorpe Sports and Social Club for many years, always linking the club back to the community on such days as: carnivals, fetes, Remembrance Sunday parades, ‘Itsaknockout’, pantomimes, car shows, live outdoor musical events, family fun days, Halloween and Easter shows, sporting events and more. Shelly’s ability to not get caught out by adversity and challenge, her ‘on the spot thinking, contacts and knowledge’ ensures that many things in Thorpe run smoothly, are well supported and end in a really good ‘show’ for the local people.
Over the years, I can remember where she has really been challenged, but come up with raffle prizes, a last minute Santa, sponsorship, live acts, bouncy castles, cooked food and drinks for the kids, car parking marshals, venues and all with a happy laugh and cheeky smile. She has been at the forefront of the village for many years and deserves a little recognition.
She has and will always be thought off as someone that can get things done, supporting the local community (young and old), to bring the village together to celebrate rural life in what is an amazing village.
Brightlingsea Free Music Festival, John Godfrey
Brightlingsea Free Music Festival was established in 2001 and last year celebrated its 20th anniversary. The festival has been organised from the beginning by a group of community volunteers who are responsible for planning, fund-raising, publicity, and running the festival, which has now grown into a three day event.
The festival costs in the region of £20,000 each year and showcases some of the brightest musical talent in our area. It is a significant community event in Brightlingsea and only works as a free festival because of volunteers dedicating their time and energy throughout the year. A core group of eight volunteers lead on all aspects of festival production – they engage with the Town Council and community businesses and other organisations. They recruit volunteers to help with stewarding, and organise licences and event safety. From humble origins it has grown into one of the most popular and well established events in the town calendar.
The Free Music Festival has become an established event in the Brightlingsea Town Calendar, through the dedicated work of the volunteers a whole range of musicians and artists have been able to showcase their talent to a wider audience. The people of Brightlingsea have enjoyed over 300 mainly original bands and performers over the 20 year period of its operation.
Mr. Dollar and Mrs Meena Patel
Dollar and Meena have been residents and shopkeepers in St Osyth for over twenty Years. They run two convenience stores, one at Clacton Road, in St Osyth Village, and the other in Point Clear Road. They and their businesses played and are still playing an important role in village activity to mitigate the problems caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Their shops provide everything a family would need acting as Grocer, Butcher, Newsagent, Dairy and so on.
During the first lockdown, they made up 806 boxes and bags of groceries on orders that were received between 1230 to 1330 each day, these were packed by Dollar, Meena and others ready for the team of delivery volunteers to deliver from 1630 onwards. A most welcome service for those who could not leave their home, due to age or illness, to shop themselves. When the Government introduced charges for plastic bags, Dollar pledged in the village that whatever sum was collected by the sale of bags, they would donate to the Village Parish Church. This gesture, from September 2019 to September this year has resulted in £4,987.40 being donated, which in this most difficult time, has contributed significantly to ensuring the Church’s financial position remains secure.
There is a ‘Nisa’ Charity called ‘Making a Difference Locally’ and Dollar and Meena nominated the Village Parish Church, as the one central organisation in St Osyth, to receive monies due to their business. This has resulted in various sums being given to us including £1725 in October 2021, to support the continued production of our Parish Magazine, which is the most valuable document that circulates the village and is delivered to 2,500 homes. The magazine invites all village organisations to contribute information on their activities with the opportunity to advertise their future events each month and includes a Parish Council Report from the Chairman and a report on District matters from Cllr John White and myself. Dollar and Meena have helped to keep this magazine alive.
I hope they continue to be at the heart our Village affairs. They have shown during this terrible pandemic period just how much they can support us all, without any flag waving or drums beating, in fact it is probably only through the magazine, where their efforts have been referred to in Chairman’s Reports, that many residents know what these two good people have been doing in the community for the benefit of all. This pandemic has shown just how well residents from many backgrounds can become one in an emergency, working for the whole community. Surely a great comfort for all who are fortunate enough to live in the village of St Osyth.
I hope they continue to be at the heart our village affairs. They have shown during this terrible pandemic period just how much they can support us all, without any flag waving or drums beating, in fact it is probably only through the Magazine, where their efforts have been referred to in Chairman’s Reports, that many residents know what these two good people have been doing in the community for the benefit of all.
This pandemic has shown just how well residents from many backgrounds can become as one in an emergency, working for the whole community. Surely a great comfort for all who are fortunate enough to live in the village of St Osyth.
Harry is one of the longest serving members of Frinton Rotary Club, always willing to get fully involved in fundraising activities and projects to help community life. He is a former President of the club and has held many other positions in his 36 years’ membership during which he has helped raise thousands of pounds each year.
In addition to his role within the club, Sonny, with Shirley, used to run casserole nights at their house where as many as 50 people were packed in to raise hundreds of pounds for the minibus, Rotary and other good causes. For his tremendous work for the club and the community, in 2004 he was awarded a Paul Harris Fellowship, a high award within Rotary named after its founder. Even in his work as a jeweller in Frinton for 25 years, his shop was a happy place where he gained a reputation for his genuine and fair dealing with his customers.
It gives me great pleasure to provide my commendation in support of the nomination of Harry (Sonny) Francis for the Pride of Tendring Award 2022. As an inspirational role model and pillar of our local community, there are none more deserving of such an award than Sonny. His infectious, happy go lucky personality ensures that all that come into contact with him have their day brightened from his wonderful smile and caring nature. He has lived in Tendring since the age of eight when his family moved from London to Jaywick. As a 13 year old, he was lucky to survive the Great Flood of 1953, which he subsequently wrote about in a book ‘Scallywagg of Jaywick’. Surviving this tragedy while dozens of others nearby drowned, helped to shape his attitude to life, always looking on the bright side.
Sonny by name and sunny by nature, he is one of those people who manages to spread cheer in whatever he does. He and his dearly loved wife Shirley, who died last year after a long illness, were kingpins of the Frinton & Walton Community minibus, Shirley as Secretary and Sonny as Chairman. He continues in this role heading the provision of transport for voluntary organisations throughout the Frinton & Walton district. Sonny has made such a difference to the lives of many others throughout his life and that is why I am so pleased and honoured to nominate him for a Pride of Tendring award. Sonny by name, sunny by nature, a very kind and generous man who is worthy of this award.
Throughout lockdown, Mike offered a free, two hour online concert from his living room each Saturday which became a focal point for many people. Mike is an extremely talented singer/guitarist who performs at many local venues and these weekly concerts became a social life line that brought together friends, families and hither to strangers through his music. The online chat facility enabled those watching to make requests, exchange messages and enter into jokes and banter that grew as the weeks passed into something very special. Those watching alone were no longer alone and many who were unable to be with friends and family became united for two hours each week.
At a time of ongoing social isolation, Mike gifted his talent in a selfless act of kindness that meant so much too so many, not only in Tendring but throughout the UK and, on occasions, on more than one continent. Mike’s music, the interaction between him and his sons, Ben and Sam, and the messages that flowed between the residents of the Tendring District and Mike’s mum watching in North Wales gave people something to look forward to each week when life outside was offering very little to look forward to and it is impossible to calculate how much Mike did to offset loneliness and support mental health in such an uplifting way. He is truly a Tendring resident to be proud of.
I would like to nominate Alex Smith for a Pride of Tendring Award. For nearly 30 years, Alex has tended to Mistley’s beautiful flock of swans, having formed a local group called Swanwatch in 1994. For several centuries, the herd of mute swans living on the Stour estuary was fed by the spent grain discharged from the nearby Maltings. However, in the early 1990s the Maltings closed and were subsequently redeveloped into quayside apartments, thus resulting in a severe depletion of food shortages for the swans. Concerned for their welfare and future survival, Alex set up Swanwatch. For several years, Alex looked after the swans single handed, without any assistance. In the last decade, she has led a team of volunteers which has joined her in not only feeding during the breeding and winter months, but also tending to sick and injured swans. She has also tirelessly raised funds to meet the cost of food and medical bills, consulting with experts including the Queen’s Swan Warden, Professor Christopher Perrins, to ensure that the group was following the best advice possible.
Alex has decided to take a well-deserved retirement away from the area, and Swanwatch has handed over its mantle to another local wildlife group. We hope the new group will be as dedicated as Alex has been in safeguarding and tending to Mistley’s iconic and treasured swan herd. I truly feel Alex’s contribution to our community is worthy of a Pride of Tendring Award and hope you will support her nomination.
Debbie, Dave and Jenine Davey from 1st Clacton Rainbows, Brownies, Guides and Rangers
Debbie and Dave started volunteering with guides in 2005, when their daughter Jenine was a young leader with Holland Guides. Dave and Debbie originally went to help the girls do a cross stitch card for their mums. After that they were there every week, eventually taking on the brownies and rainbows as the leaders left. They reopened 1st Clacton as 1st Holland was closing in 2008, on the request of the County Commissioner.
With guiding centenary approaching county they were conscious that 1st Clacton were listed as being the oldest unit in North East Essex (so at the start of guiding). Hundreds of girls have been through the 1st Clacton Rainbows, Brownies, Guides and Rangers which must mean thousands of hours all voluntarily given over the year, not to mention all those camps and various other activities. In their words ‘We would miss the girls too much if we left, so we keep going. Girl guiding offers girls the chance to develop their potential, make friends and have fun’. Girlguiding has a long history of empowering girls and young women to be their best. From a small handful of girls who gate crashed the first-ever Scout rally, demanding ‘something for the girls’, Girl guiding has grown into a vast and vibrant network of members across the UK.
The Guide Association was established in 1909 – thanks to the efforts of many intrepid girls who refused to accept that scouting was ‘just for boys’. Soon, these young women began completing badges in sailing, aviation and home electrics. Later still, Girlguiding members were making important contributions to the First World War effort – growing food, acting as messengers for government organisations and working in hospitals, factories and soup kitchens. It’s been over 100 years since Girlguiding was established, and our members are still pushing boundaries and achieving great things.