Who are the 50 Norfolk Day Heroes?
PUBLISHED: 06:30 23 July 2020 | UPDATED: 08:41 23 July 2020
Over the last few weeks the Eastern Daily Press and Norwich Research Park have been busy pulling together our inaugural list of 50 Norfolk Day Heroes.
For this year’s Norfolk Day celebrations, we are honouring the numerous people who go above and beyond to help communities in our county.
After receiving nominations from you, our readers, we have been able to create a list of 50 people who have gone out of their way to help communities through the pandemic, key workers, and people who have been going above and beyond to help people in Norfolk for years. Each will receive a special Norfolk Day Heroes plaque with their name inscribed on it.
The final 50 Norfolk Day Heroes as chosen by are readers are:
1. Sam Mooney
Sam is an integral part of the Soul Foundation who are providing almost 50,000 meals per week to needy families in and around Norwich, free of charge. He has worked tirelessly since the Covid-19 outbreak and deserves recognition for all the hard work he has put in during the crisis.
2. John Overton
John Overton is a South Norfolk councillor, Poringland parish councillor, chair of Poringland lakes & conservation, chair of Poringland Wanderers FC, and a school governor, amongst many other things. Terry Harper, who nominated Mr Overton said: “Leading and doing good for others practically all his life. He is businesslike whilst compassionate, tireless for the good of the local people.
3. Andrew George Francis
As a independent owner of a funeral directors, Andrew has gone above and beyond with his services during a very difficult period.
4. John Potter
John Potter, who was nominated by Pauline Strance, he been nominated after he continued the sterling work of his father supporting employment, the NHS and charities in the area.
Matthew is the volunteer manager of Waveney Foodbank, he has been working throughout the Covid-19 crisis, delivering food to clients isolating and some who were ill. He has been collecting food from supermarkets with short dates and distributing it to people in Diss, Beccles and Harleston.
6+7. Kirsty Sleightholme and Janet Bidewell
They are manager and deputy at Cranmer House Care Home in Fakenham and have been working tirelessly throughout the pandemic ensuring that their residents are lovingly cared for. They send photos and arrange facetime calls and more recently outside visits, they always go above and beyond!
8. Lily Lancaster
Aged 12, Lily struggled when the county first went into lockdown and was very sad, but she was still keen to make others happy. Lily began making keyrings with kind words on them and hiding them for people to find, she used her own pocket money to do random acts of kindness.
9. Olivia Shannon
Before the pandemic, six-year-old Olivia was learning about pollution and litter and was keen to see what she could do on a local level. Throughout lockdown Olivia has been walking around Wymondham and collecting rubbish where she can. Olivia, in her own words, wants to save the world and make it a much better place to live for people in her community.
10. Leslie Tooley
Leslie served the town as a hairdresser in Reepham for over 30 years and has raised over £7,000 for charities with his Christmas light display. He also co-founded the second Reepham scout group around 40 years ago, which hundreds of children have benefitted from.
11. Kumar and Jamuna Vellennylum
The husband and wife run a corner shop, which has stayed open throughout lockdown. They’ve sourced vital supplies and delivered to vulnerable and elderly customers in their area.
12. The White Hart
Through the pandemic, the team truly went above and beyond to help residents in their town get through the crisis.
The group, together with other members of the community, have delivered meals on wheels to the most vulnerable of residents at cost price and helped organise and deliver care packages and shopping.
Not only have they been able to help in this way, they also organised virtual discos and quiz nights to lift the spirits of people self isolating, shielding or staying at home in line with government advice.
13. Toby Griffith
10-year-old Toby Griffith, who plays for Dereham Town U10s Blacks and Norwich City PDC (player development centre), was nominated by his brother, Luke. He raised £1,240 for the NHS by running a marathon on his driveway during lockdown.
14. Don Saunders
Don set up a local food table in the village of Carbrooke and liaises with the local Tesco to arrange for any food that would otherwise be thrown out is collected and bought to the village to help others that otherwise may have no access to food.
Through lockdown, Rachel has run her own virtual Zumba classes and her daily Facebook posts have been described as ‘sunlight and inspiration through out lockdown’. Her virtual Zumba Goldfest raised £3,000 for NHS Charity Together.
16+17. Elaine Day and Sarah Huddlestone
Elaine and Sarah started up a Kindness page at the start of the pandemic to help out local people and spread kindness. She has raised a lot of money for different charity’s and has also helped out local businesses. Elaine also created a ‘mask tree’ outside her house for people who needed a mask but also had a donation pot for Banham Zoo.
18. Ali Dent
The 62-year-old butcher from Hilgay has been delivering and helping the vulnerable in the local area and has raised money for the Queen Elizabeth’s Hospital during the pandemic.
19. Alison Webb
The district councillor set up Dereham Cares, a volunteering scheme that has helped hundreds of vulnerable people in Dereham and Toftwood through the coronavirus crisis. The co-ordinators and volunteers have helped by collecting and delivering 500 prescriptions since the initiative began.
20. Rachel Harvey
Rachel, who works full time, has been helping townsfolk with their shopping, befriending vulnerable residents and doing prescriptions runs to help through the crisis.
21. Michael Bartlett
Michael has worked timelessly to support St Martins in Norwich for the last 10 years. Along with the villagers in Old Buckenham and surrounding areas he has raised in excess of £250,000 through supermarket collections and general fundraising. Whilst he works tirelessly he prefers to stay in the background and will rarely take any credit for his hard work. He is truly inspirational.
22. Su McKinnell
Su was nominated for her long and dedicated service to her local community. Described as an ‘unsung local hero who deserves recognition’, she has been a leader at 1st Mattishall & District Scout Group since 1994 and also volunteers with her local church and youth group.
23. Colin Breckons
Colin Breckons has been making face shields on his 3D printers during the pandemic to support his community. The 34-year-old first began making “save grabbers” to use to push buttons and open doors before moving to create personal protective equipment (PPE).
24. Lyn Fairchild
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Lyn Fairchild has been raising money and helping out in her community for decades - and has been there for people throughout lockdown. Back in March, before the government announcement, Mrs Fairchild was well on her way to making 100 laundry bags for NHS workers. Now, she has sewed around 260 face masks, the equivalent of around 65 hours of volunteering.
25+26. Matt Long and Danny Cotton
Matt Long and Danny Cotton, who founded Bulldog Films and is based in Norwich, has been nominated for his services to the film industry. Back in 2018 he made a petition calling for cheaper train fairs for actors and have been giving Norfolk exposure in the USA and Canada.
27. Sir Norman Lamb
Former north Norfolk MP Norman Lamb has been going above and beyond for people in Norfolk for years. He awarded a knighthood for his services to mental health and is a patron of a number of charities. Last year he launched the Norman Lamb Mental Health and Wellbeing Fund.
28. Anna Moody
Anna has been nominated for her services to children in and around village of Bawdeswell, including supporting local football team and bike scheme.
29. Debbie Williams
Debbie has also been nominated for her services to children around the village of Bawdeswell, including the introduction of a bike scheme.
30. Janet Money
Janet is that founder of Dereham Cancer Care, a registered charity helping cancer sufferers in Dereham.
31. Jacob Hart
Jacob, who is nine-years-old, has cystic fibrosis and has cycled 200km for Cystic Fibrosis Trust charity during lockdown. He’s super positive and an inspiration to anyone he speaks too.
32. Isaac Savory
The eight-year-old has raised just over £1000 for the NHS to help with coronavirus by doing a 12 hour silence. He’s a real chatterbox and this challenge was all his own idea.
33. Taila Taylor
Taila is tireless in her efforts to help the community of Attleborough, and stepped up following the dawn of the coronavirus crisis. Her family’s pub, the London Tavern, was transformed into an emergency donation point for essential supplies.
In May, King’s Lynn man David Green awoke in the middle of the night to find his wife, Joy, collapsed on their bedroom floor. With a 999 call handler giving Mr Green instructions over the phone, he performed CPR on Joy for several minutes until paramedics arrived. Paramedics tried for another 35 minutes to resuscitate Mrs Green and finally her heart began beating again. Doctors told Mr Green his wife probably would not have survived had he not performed the initial CPR.
35. Sophie Speed
Sophie runs her own reflexology full time. She also volunteers to help cancer patients with their pain after surgery.
36. Mike Smith-Clare
Throughout the pandemic he’s been doing a lot to help alleviate food poverty in Great Yarmouth. He took part in Labour Norfolk CC’s ‘Food Out Friday’ which involved the donation of councillor allowances to buy and supply food to foodbanks. He also took part in a 365k group challenge, and a 36-day solo challenge where he ran 170k. So far, £8000 has been raised through his efforts. He’s also been delivered prescribed medication across Great Yarmouth twice a week since the lockdown started.
37. Jane Doughty
Since mid-March, she has collated and curated what she called ‘a weekly, chatty e-mail’ for Attleborough’s Heritage Group members but it grew to be so much more. She also made face masks for members of her family and members of the group.
38. Emma Spagnola
Cromer’s Emma Spagnola, known as the ‘Norfolk Loo Lady’, has been fighting to have more accessible toilets opened across Norfolk for three years. On Sunday, the government announced a major change to building rules where it will be compulsory to have at least one changing place facility in new buildings and large venues from next year.
39. Penny Sheppard
Penny has been the headteacher of Queens Hills Primary School since the first day it opened and has always gone the extra mile for the benefit if her pupils, parents and the community. Since lockdown she has worked tirelessly, along with her staff to ensure all her pupils have been able to continue to learn and almost lives in the school with the hours she puts in for her pupils. I cannot think of anybody else who has done so much not jut for her pupils but for the community of Queens Hill.
40. University of East Anglia: UEA’s class of 2020
5,800 students graduating from the University of East Anglia (UEA) this year, under unprecedented circumstances, are all Norfolk heroes. They’ve made Norfolk their home over several years and enriched our community in many ways; volunteering for local causes, working jobs in the local economy and even setting up businesses and social enterprises. Contributing socially, economically and culturally. During the COVID-19 pandemic students have boosted the local NHS workforce, cared for NHS workers’ children and given out face masks to elderly people.
41. Quadram Institute: Dr Justin O’Grady
Dr Justin O’Grady has been a leading figure in the Norwich Research Park’s collective response to the Coronavirus pandemic. Justin is a Group leader at the Quadram Institute and Associate Professor at UEA and is an expert in developing new ways of diagnosing diseases using cutting-edge genomic techniques. When the news of the Covid-19 pandemic broke, Justin quickly pivoted his expertise to fighting the novel virus. He helped develop a diagnostic test for the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital to cope with the large number of tests needed at the pandemic’s height. This was developed with colleagues at UEA’s Norwich Medical School and also from the Earlham Institute, epitomising Justin’s collaborative approach. Justin has also led the local team sequencing coronavirus genomes as part of a nationwide initiative to understand how the virus spread.
42. Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital: Dr Eleanor Mishra
Eleanor Mishra is a respiratory consultant at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and is the lead principal investigator for the RECOVERY (Randomised Evaluation of Covid-19 Therapy) study at the hospital. More than 50 NNUH patients with Covid-19 have been enrolled onto the study, which is testing existing drugs to see if they are an effective treatment. Dr Mishra said the beginning of the pandemic was a “very stressful” time. The first significant results from RECOVERY found that the use of the steroid dexamethasone cut the risk of death by a third for patients on ventilators and reduced deaths by a fifth for patients on oxygen.
43. Earlham Institute: Sarah Cossey
Sarah Cossey is the director of Operations at the Earlham Institute, a life science research centre based on Norwich Research Park. Sarah’s passion and hard work behind the scenes makes the Earlham Institute’s cutting-edge science possible. From keeping staff safe and well-supported to making sure the building has the equipment and protocols to power breakthroughs, Sarah’s round-the-clock dedication allows our scientists to throw all their energy into research. Sarah’s commitment to people has been exemplified by her desire to make a difference during the coronavirus pandemic. At the outset of the pandemic, Sarah spearheaded a volunteer drive across the Research Park to help the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital increase capacity for COVID-19 testing. Within weeks, volunteers from the Earlham Institute, John Innes Centre, The Sainsbury Laboratory, Quadram Institute of Bioscience and the University of East Anglia were providing critical testing for our key workers, who otherwise would have had to travel to national test centres.
44. John Innes Centre: Professor George Lomonossoff
Professor George Lomonossoff is a virologist working at the John Innes Centre who uses molecular biology to understand the assembly and properties of viruses. This year he has been more prominent than ever working with the media to explain the spread of COVID-19 to the British public. George has done hundreds of TV and radio interviews from the time the outbreak hit the UK in February and has tirelessly helped millions of people understand how vaccines work, how viruses spread and the risks of COVID-19. George has a great track record in the field of science research having been named the BBSRC Innovator of the Year in 2012 for his work that has led to a plant-based production system for manufacturing proteins.
45. Melanie Sturman
Melanie Sturman, from Thetford, is a parkrun coordinator and has been organising charity runs for years. Her most recent event, to raise money from two struggling Norfolk Zoo’s, raised more than £5,000.
46. Hayley Dawson
The central hotel have housed homeless people now for several months to safeguard them from the Covid-19 virus. Hayley Dawson, single homeless and rough sleeper co-ordinator for the NCC, has always been at the helm guiding the hotel through this gargantuan task. Night and day, day in day out, Hayley has been there to ensure the correct information is given and to help allay any concerns or worries.
47. Harry Bruford
Harry has played a big part in Bodham since moving to the village more than 20 years ago. He continues to serve on the village playing field and village hall committees, as we as the parish council, which he served as chairman for many years. He was also instrumental in the formation of the Bodham Croquet club and involved in Bodham Horticultural Show.
48. Mel Clarke
Mel has been the co-ordinator of Bodham and East and West Beckham’s covid-19 response and has gone above and beyond what would be expected of anyone in that role. As well as managing a team of volunteers who have carried out shopping and other errands for vulnerable residents; she has made hundreds of items of PPE, and personally contacted as many people in the village as she could to make them aware of the services available to them should they need it.
49. Louise Hunt
Louise Hunt, who lives in Dereham, has worked throughout the coronavirus pandemic at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. She was nominated for her amazing spirit, even though she, like too many others, just keeps on going and going and going.
50. NNUH, QEH and James Paget
All three hospitals have been working tirelessly throughout the pandemic to save as many lives as possible. They have not only offered brilliant care but they have helped keep families in the loop with what is going on.
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