Winner: Gill Punt
Gill is a mother of three and married to Michael, the former headmaster of Chigwell School, where until recently, she lived and worked as well.
Gill lost her father at a young age to cancer of the bile duct. This awful event together with more cancer related deaths of friends and pupils ignited and drove her fundraising adventures.
In 23 years, she has inspired 1000s to join her in running everything from 1 mile to full marathons. She has organised various events from pro-celebrity cricket matches to coffee mornings.
She even gained a Guinness World Record at the 2016 London Marathon as the fastest marathon ever in a full-bodied animal costume, she was dressed as the Cancer research mascot, a polar bear! For the last 8 years she has organised a team of nearly 100 runners to take part in the Royal Parks Half Marathon. Last autumn she ran 7 races in 7 weeks for CRUK which included 4 marathons – exhausting but wonderfully generous donations followed.
For over two decades Gill has been raising funds and awareness for cancer charities to date she has raised almost one and a half million pounds. Her unpaid volunteering endeavours have made a significant change in our local community.
Unfortunately, Essex has lost Gill as she moved to Bromsgrove school to be with her husband Michael the new headmaster.
Highly Commended: Luisa Di Marco
Luisa is the founder of Keep it 100. She is passionate about nurturing young people and helping them to find opportunities in life to build and develop their career
prospects. Also, to keep them busy and away from involvement with harmful activities which so often spiral into gangs and knife crime.
Luisa set up the organisation to educate on attractive alternatives to criminal activities and to encourage positive and productive lifestyles through creativity. Luisa was also at the very heart of bringing the Knife Angel Sculpture to Essex in September 21. The visit and display of the sculpture provoked a call to action for many local people in boosting facilities for young people.
Luisa is an inspiration and deserves recognition of her achievements.
Highly Commended: Jamey Carr
Jamey was a regular supporter, fundraiser, and user, through her young son Dominic, of PARC Essex a ‘Play and Resource Centre’ for Autistic children in Great Notley. When PARC surprisingly
collapsed and closed this year, resourceful Jamey and her husband Matt founded "POP Essex" to help families like themselves who have been abandoned without any proper respite in place. They were
determined to get the new group working. In a short space of time, they have already registered 100 families to "POP Essex”. Jamey has set up this amazing club herself doing all the policies,
registration, interviews for new staff, organizing training, DBS, and setting up events, the list is endless. The ethos of "POP Essex" is not to turn away anyone with additional needs, child, or
young adult. Her passion is to have a happy and safe environment for all children and young adults to have fun.
Her nominator Siobhan Riordan wrote “It would be such a pleasure if Jamey was awarded for all her hard work, to show her just what an amazing lady she is.”
Highly Commended: Margaret Axon
During lock down Margaret became one of the Danbury volunteers Befrienders.
She regularly called on a lady within the village who had serious personal issues, she continues to reach out to the resident and often takes her shopping.
Margaret also set up monthly coffee mornings to encourage residents who were feeling isolated since lockdown. This has really helped people. Mind you she has been running coffee mornings and jumble sales since the eighties. In addition to plant sales and open gardens, her fund raising never stops.
Margaret has been fundraising for over 40 years … raising over £250k for Farleigh Hospice!
Her Nominator Mandy Hessing wrote
“Margaret is the catalyst of our community, she is selfless, kind, and thoughtful, people just want to help her. She is phenomenal, so much energy and drive.”
Highly Commended: John Wealleans
John has a full-time job as a chef/catering manager at a nursing home in Chiswick.
Yet somehow in addition to fulfilling his job, John along with his wife Patrizia and daughter Ruby have found time over the last three years to provide home-made hot meals, to the rough sleepers, homeless and vulnerable in Chelmsford. In January 2021 he raised funds to buy a catering van and has named his voluntary service STREETFOOD.
John has said many times "what I want is all the rough sleepers and homeless to have a home but until then I would like to support them
by making sure they have a meal inside their bellie"'.