Covid-19 impacted plans for our popular Civic Awards 2021 presentations. Instead of our usual ceremony at the Marriot, Waltham Abbey we presented our awards in a Covid secure manner.
Chairman of Council Cllr Helen Kane said
This year we wanted to celebrate the efforts of volunteers, good neighbours and anyone who had stepped up to help others.
We were looking for nominations for those in our community who needed to be acknowledged and thanked for their outstanding work in response to the COVID-19 crisis and I am delighted to announce our wonderful winners.
Citizen of the Year
Our Citizen of the Year Award recognises just some of the Epping Forest people who go the extra mile to support their communities.
Every year we have a difficult decision to make and this year it was particularly tough as there are so many within our community who have gone over and above to help others during the very difficult time we have all had to endure over the past 12 months.
Winner of Citizen of the Year
Not only was Lisa Skingsley instrumental in starting a very successful Neighbourhood Watch but in the past year she’s been working tirelessly supporting her local community during Covid.
Lisa, from Chigwell set up the Oak Lodge Avenue Neighbourhood Watch scheme and is now the joint coordinator for the Grange Hill area.
During Covid she has been supporting neighbours, picking up prescriptions and with the help of her daughter Erika, collecting toys, nappies and more importantly food for the Limes Farm area, where some families were in need of such support. Through Street Angels Lisa was made aware of a young homeless man. He was given a roof over his head but had nothing else. Lisa contacted her local community and asked for donations and they came in droves!
Supported by her family, husband Dave and daughter Erika, Lisa is a true community supporter…she’s also a Chaplain at Whipps Cross and a pro-active member of her local church.
Putting others first is a key part of Sonia’s life. Sonia who lives in Loughton is a single parent with a job, yet she still finds time to work with her local community, and more widely, supporting all sorts of people from NHS workers, families in need, key workers and vulnerable children in school.
Sonia is a cancer survivor, yet in her hectic life she often puts her charity commitments before her own needs/work routine/health care requirements.
Certificate of Commendation
Befriending lonely and isolated people in our community has never been more important. Julie Bristow, from North Weald has been the Befriending Coordinator at VAEF (Voluntary Action Epping Forest) for over 10 years, running three social clubs for over 100 elderly people from North Weald, Loughton and Waltham Abbey.
Several times a year she also arranges days out for her elderly clients to theatres, restaurants and even canal trips on barges.
During Covid with clubs closed Julie and her team of volunteers have kept in weekly contact with clients and in October she arranged for 100 cupcakes to be hand delivered to clubbers with a personal note.
Young Citizen of the Year
The Young Citizen of the Year Award is a highly prized award and this year we have a number of award winners
Winner of Young Citizen of the Year for 2021
A young carer for both her parents, Patsy Stow, 17 from Loughton had to support them through Covid. Yet Patsy not only remains an outstanding pupil at Roding Valley High School but is also an outstanding supporter of her fellow students.
During the Covid 19 pandemic she’s had to be extremely resilient and mature, taking on additional adult responsibilities to make sure her parents got the best care whilst recovering from Covid and shielding.
She is currently working towards her Duke of Edinburgh Gold award and hopes to take part in an environmental project overseas as well as developing a wellbeing and mindfulness garden in school for pupils to have a quiet area to sit.
To receive Highly Commended Certificates, we have 4 young people:
Davenant Foundation School student Megan 16, from North Weald works at a care home in Waltham Abbey, for people living with dementia. During the pandemic, Megan and her mum – who also works at the care home – moved in to live with the residents to keep them safe.
Megan also volunteers at the home and loves listening to residents’ stories and learning about their experiences. She is also an active Epping Forest Youth Councillor in her 3rd year and has been instrumental in working with elderly residents in North Weald on ‘The Hen Power Project’, which includes caring for chickens at the residential care home.
Erika is also a pupil at Davenant Foundation School. Just 13 Erika has been fundraising during the pandemic to help the homeless, MacMillan, Parkinson’s and Street Angels along with many others.
She recycles used stamps, milk bottle tops and candle wax to raise funds for charities, enjoys making soup for the homeless from ingredients from the allotment, collects for her local foodbank and distributes toys, clothing and food to children. Another charity close to Erika’s heart is the Little Princess Trust which she supported by cutting her hair and donating it to be made into a wig for children with cancer.
17-year-old Harmeet Larh from Chigwell has ambitions to become a GP. A pupil at Chigwell School she worked with her family and seven local GP practices to refurbish a derelict building to create a ‘Hot Clinic’ for patients with Covid-19 to receive medical support. The building now continues to serve the local community as a vaccination centre. Harmeet carried out this voluntary work while studying for her A levels in the hope of eventually achieving her dream of becoming a local doctor.
Supporting children younger than herself during Covid is what Maisey from Theydon Bois received her award for. She is a is a member of the Red Balloon Foundation where she volunteered to keep the projects for children and young people running during the pandemic.
Maisey is also a pupil at Davenant Foundation School and is said to be an incredible asset to the team, helping deliver online sessions to the children and keeping them motivated. Over the summer she helped run a holiday club in North Weald ensuring children had a wonderful experience in a Covid-secure setting.
Certificate of Commendation
During the Covid-19 pandemic Megan, 15 from Loughton held a charity concert in her driveway and raised £400 for the Epping Forest Foodbank. Megan, a student at Roding Valley High School, loves music and enjoyed seeing her neighbours enjoy themselves during lockdown. She was ably assisted by her brother.
Tom, 13, also attends Roding Valley High School and together with his sister organised the concert on their drive that raised £400 for Epping Forest Foodbank.
Our Sports Awards for 2021 goes to 3 young people who are showing great potential in their chosen field.
A keen runner and triathlete, Epping’s Larna shows great dedication and commitment to progressing in her sport. She has been awarded £750 to progress her training. 16-year-old Larna is a pupil at St Nicholas School and used the pandemic to perfect her training. She is passionate about competing in Triathlons and has her sights firmly set on the Super League, British Triathlon Championships which will hopefully lead on to the World Triathlon Championships and the Olympics.
Larna plans to invest the funding in a new road bike – as she currently uses her mum’s old one. One of her own will help her to advance in the cycling element of triathlon.
A rising hockey star, 16-year-old Nathan from Theydon Bois was previously selected for England’s U16 team for the 2019-2020 season and has been reselected again this year. A pupil at Davenant Foundation School Nathan aspires to reach the U18 teams when he is old enough and continue through to represent England in the first team one day.
This second-place funding of £500 will mean he can continue to support himself in attending training weekends and travelling for camps or matches.
Another Davenant Foundation student, Elliot, 16, from Loughton competes in badminton at a high level. He has previously represented his school in the Essex County Championships and playing in eight Bronze level tournaments. Elliot has been selected to represent Essex County in the Under-16 and Under-18 Essex boys’ team in intercounty matches and has played on county teams since 2018.
Third place with £250 funding allows Elliot to buy some new equipment and specialist training sessions that will help him to reach the next level.
This year we have awarded two Creativity Awards.
Genevieve Lishkara Sabherwal
Genevieve, 23, from Loughton is currently in her final year on the Acting and Contemporary Theatre Course at East15 Acting she is proving to be a versatile, original, multi-talented performer.
She plans to use the £500 Creativity Award on a play she is writing entitled “My Grandma’s a Walrus” – a semi-biographical story of a half Indian, half English girl trying to find her sense of belonging in a world where she is deemed too white to be Indian and too brown to be English.
The funding will allow Genevieve to have her play professionally recorded so that it can reach the widest possible audience given COVID-19 restrictions. As an understudy Genevieve recently stepped up to play the lead role in a show about Buster Keaton when the actor was unexpectedly taken to hospital on the opening day of the show!
Grace Joy Warwick
Grace 24, a recent graduate of Aberystwyth university, applied for the grant to help support the work of Nazeing Art Club. She is a community champion working hard to bring the therapeutic power of the arts to those around her.
While Nazeing Art Club is a small group it has been involved in international events including the Tower of Babel bricks exhibition in Venice, Italy, the poppy project as part of remembrance Sunday commemorations and workshops exploring different media. The past year has brought many challenges and the club has continued to innovate with Zoom classes and virtual daytrips to the National Gallery.
The £400 award will allow the club to create a website for members’ work, expand membership and provide art materials for anyone who needs them, making it a truly inclusive group.
Volunteer Team of the Year award
The dictionary describes the word team as a number of persons forming as one and often it is the work of many that make things happen – so this year we would like to recognise two very different teams.
Volunteer Team of the Year 2021
St Clare Hospice Bereavement volunteers
In the past year bereavement services have never been more needed, and the St Clare service has a tremendous team of volunteers who deserve to have their dedication recognised.
The 38-strong team of volunteers were supporting seven new Bereavement Cafés in Essex which sadly had to close when Covid-19 struck.
The Hospice looked at other ways of supporting people…and online communities were established. In the six months almost 200 people have joined the Facebook groups and bereavement facilitators have also been supporting bereavement cafés via Zoom.
In June, the Hospice launched a new Bereavement Helpline, run by a mix of staff and volunteers and have trained Listening Ears, who offer emotional support via regular phone calls.
All the Foodbank Volunteers in our district who have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic. Each and every Foodbank volunteer has stepped up to ensure people in food poverty in our local area have not gone hungry.
They’ve continued to coordinate food collections from donors and prepared hundreds of food parcels, putting personal risk aside to get food to people’s homes – including those in need who have been suffering with Covid-19 and/or self-isolating. Without this commitment and collaboration foodbanks would have had to curtail or even stop their operations, leaving those in need in an even more desperate situation.
Congratulations to all our winners
Council Chairman Cllr Helen Kane said:
We have all had to adapt and change how we normally live and work, but one positive thing to come from this awful situation is the wonderful stories of community and good will and I congratulate all our award winners.
Nominations open for the Civic Awards 2022 in September.
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