A ‘hidden hero’ who makes a big difference to people’s lives in Bury St Edmunds has been recognised for his tireless community volunteer work.
Ernie Broom, of Bury, was presented with a Hidden Hero award which is part of a campaign by supermarket giant Asda to celebrate the hard work of volunteers, carers and colleagues, who dedicate their time to helping others.
The 80-year-old helped set up a club for over 60s on Bury’s Howard estate, was the driving force behind a food bank opening in the town, fund-raises for the RAF association Wings Appeal and is chairman of the Howard Estate Association of Residents and Tenants.
Ernie is a retired telephone engineer and ambulance driver and last year he was awarded a British Empire Medal in the Queen’s birthday honours for his community work.
Michelle Frost, community champion at Asda’s Bury store, surprised Ernie by presenting him with the award as well as a hamper at the over 60s club’s Christmas party.
She also gave a present to each guest at the party.
Michelle said: “I’ve worked with Ernie loads in the community. Ernie is always putting other people first. He’s really selfless and works tirelessly in the community.
“He does so much for everyone else and I just wanted him to know how much he’s appreciated – he’s such a lovely man and we all think the world of him.”
Ernie added: “It was a wonderful surprise – and what Christmas is about. We’re so grateful we’ve got Asda here as everyone is so friendly and helpful. It’s like a big reunion every time I go in there.
“I just love my community – it’s as simple as that. I’m really proud of it and I like to help in whatever way I can.
“I lost my wife (Deirdre) 16 years ago and that was the end of my world as I saw it. I turned to the church and did the Alpha course, but said to the vicar that it only helps me on a Sunday so I’m going to get involved in the community every day.
“A fortnight later I started the over 60s club and we had 70-odd members and a waiting list – and since then I’ve got involved trying to help them solve their problems.”
The Hidden Heroes campaign is supported by the Asda Foundation, which provides grants to support a range of local good causes.
To find out more about the Asda Foundation, or eligibility for submitting a funding application for 2017, visit www.asdafoundation.org