ROUND-UP: Stars of Babergh celebrated at annual awards evening
The best of the district’s community volunteers, organisations and businesses were celebrated at a major annual awards ceremony.
Hundreds of people packed into St Mary’s Church in Hadleigh on Thursday evening for the Stars of Babergh and Mid Suffolk Awards, where a broad mix of nominees across numerous categories earned recognition for their achievements and efforts over the past year.
For Babergh, the big winner on the night was Great Cornard resident Will Hunt, who scooped the top accolade of Overall Star, as well as the Volunteer of the Year award, for his long service as manager of the disability team at Cornard Dynamos Football Club.
Mr Hunt, 44, a self-employed painter and decorator, has coached the team on a voluntary basis for 16 years, holding sessions for both adults and children with any disability, in Backhouse Lane every Saturday between 12.30pm and 2.30pm.
“It’s good to be appreciated,” he told the Free Press. “I do have a fantastic team behind me.
“To come away with two awards was amazing. Getting the overall award was a huge shock. It was a fantastic evening.”
He also praised his fellow coaches for keeping the team going while he was out for five months with an ankle injury, and added that any new players or volunteers wishing to join can do by calling 07968 622285.
It was also a good night for Lavenham, with parish council chairman Carroll Reeve receiving the Special Recognition prize, while the Lavenham Community Land Trust (CLT) took home the Community Project of the Year Award.
The trust is spearheading the Peek Close development, after acquiring the site of a former Suffolk County Council gritting depot last year.
It is now overseeing the construction of 18 homes for local needs housing on the site, which it hopes to have completed by next summer.
Cllr Reeve said: “My own nomination and award was a complete surprise and very welcome, especially as my wife attended as she gives me such great support.
“I was quite astounded, and really pleased also by the award for the CLT.
“It’s a very exciting development and an example that others can follow. Hopefully, this will be the first of more developments for local needs housing.”
Among the other winners was Suffolk Market Events, which walked away with the Business Growth Award.
The company operates farmers’ markets throughout the region, including Sudbury, Hadleigh and Lavenham, which celebrates its 10th anniversary on Sunday between 10am and 2pm.
Justine Paul, owner of Suffolk Market Events, said the markets had gone from strength to strength within the last two years, and the company is now in talks to acquire more markets in 2019.
“It’s brilliant to get the award,” she said. “It was a real honour and it was lovely to be part of the event.
“Everyone is having a tough time with the economy and Brexit, but we actually find business is great at the markets.
“Our growth has been steady. I feel like we have got a really strong foundation and backbone.”
Meanwhile, Joe’s Golf and Activity Park in Great Cornard picked up the Community Spirit of the Year Award, in recognition of its work to provide activities for people with mild to moderate learning disorders.
The park has been raising money for a new activity centre this year, and construction is expected to commence in 2019.
Owner Vanessa Woodwood said: “We didn’t expect to win – we still have no idea who nominated us – so we were really thrilled.
“It was a lovely event, and it was all really well done. There were hundreds of people there, who have all been doing things for their community.
“This is just the first stage of many. We have held quiz nights, bingo, golf days and things like that. People absolutely love it.
“We can’t wait until the centre is up. We hope to make it a big success and see it grow bigger and bigger.”