Star Lifetime Award - Vincent Fitzmaurice
While expecting their third child thirty years ago, Vincent’s wife received a brain tumour diagnosis. Vince was left a widower with three small children. He became friends with a family whose young son, Paul, had been diagnosed with cancer. Through the church at West Ham, Vince decided to devote any spare time to raising money and awareness for families whose children had been diagnosed with cancer.
He did this while working full-time and caring for three young children. Having previously worked for another charity and been actively involved in the community, he founded the Lennox
Children's Cancer Fund in the church office at All Saints, West Ham Church and named it after the warden of the church, Geoffrey Lennox.
With the help of a fantastic team, Vince has worked tirelessly for 30 years to raise more than 18 million pounds for the charity, which supports families dealing with the devastating emotional and financial toll that comes along with a childhood cancer.
He continues to be involved daily with the families and knows most of the children by name. He plans theatrical performances, holiday breaks, fundraising activities, and days out for the families. Through his efforts, Lennox offers families in need free respite holiday breaks, care, and crisis funding, as well as emotional and practical support.
His nominator Lyndsey Bidwell said:
“By focusing on helping those in need he was able to channel the most traumatic time in his own life into something so positive and wonderful that has benefitted so many others. Vince is one in a million; the world needs more individuals like him”.
Outstanding Community Achievement - Sailability (Hanningfield)
Chris Atkins is a disabled sailor. Eighteen years ago, he was looking for somewhere to sail in Essex. The nearest venues he could find were a considerable distance away in Suffolk or Surrey Docks.
In November 2004 together with friends Roy Hart and Ron Hollington he approached Essex and Suffolk water authority with a proposal for a disabled sailing project at Hanningfield reservoir.
It took a great deal of work and chasing but gradually their constant knocking on doors succeeded. Today they offer sailing to anyone no matter what the disability, be it physical or mental. They have built ramps for ease of access and have electric hoists for ease of boarding, and now they even have custom-built a clubhouse. They have approximately fifty users with disability who, helped by a dozen or so volunteers regularly use the facilities.
Such as Mark Rainbow who was a regular sailor until struck down by MS. He is now a great help at the Centre which has become a focus in his life. Francesca Goodwin was born almost totally paralyzed. She loves to sail and smiles all the time. Now she is learning to steer boats by blowing and drawing through a tube. Her improvement is a joy to behold All of this has been self-enabled and financed by their ingenuity and fund raising.
Over eighteen years it has become a place for Essex to be proud of.