Inspirational people have been recognised for their extraordinary contribution to improving the lives of others in Bury St Edmunds.
Touching stories of selfless acts and tireless work in the community were applauded at the Bury Town Council’s St Edmund’s Day award presentation event on Tuesday.
Seventeen-year-old Connie Gibbs was named ‘young citizen of the year’ for the strength she has shown since losing her mother, Zena, to cancer in 2005, raising both funds and awareness for St Nicholas Hospice Care while also becoming an important role model for young people.
As well as helping to raise more than £30,000 through a four-month fund-raising campaign launched on the 10th anniversary of her mother’s death, Connie has run support groups for bereaved students and given presentations on the subject in school assemblies.
She said: “When my teacher put me up for it, I was quite shocked because I don’t really feel I deserve the recognition.”
Her father, Darren, said he was ‘proud as punch’ to see her win.
“It’s an honour really when you put her up against the other kids and what they’ve done to be put forward for the award,” he said.
Also nominated were Ben Rogers and Clementine Key, William Burgess, Callum Ewing, Toby Jeffrey, Lauren Boothroyd and Holly Silcock.
Melanie Lesser was recognised as a ‘tremendous asset to Bury’ when she was named ‘citizen of the year’.
As Bury in Bloom coordinator, she has been involved in numerous projects in the town, including the River of Flowers, Wolf Trail, community and school planting schemes, roundabout sculptures and the commemorative Magna Carta bollard trail.
She said: “I really feel very privileged because there were some amazing nominations.
“I feel mine’s very much a team effort. I love Bury and I’m delighted to do the things I’ve done, and it just shows tonight how many people do love the town and all do what they can.”
Also nominated were Terry and Pam Buckle, Margaret Charlesworth, Jill Staplehurst, Neil Kirkham, Doreen Payne and Elizabeth Clement.
The council’s allotments awards were also held on Tuesday, with Nowton Road site winner Chris and Patricia Cole awarded ‘best overall allotment plot’.
The couple have had their allotment for 11 years and tend to it six days a week.
On winning the award, Pat said: “If we had to enter it we never would have - we do it because we love it.”
“But it’s nice to be recognised,” said Chris.
The other site winners were Colin Murphy for Cotton Lane, Ivan Briggs for Sicklesmere Road and Diane Sharman for Vinefields/Barn Lane, with Ivan Frost named ‘best newcomer’.
Ivan, who was ‘embarrassed’ about winning, said: “I don’t go chasing prizes but if someone nominates you there’s nothing you can do.”