Winner: Jane Smith

Jane, has dedicated over 30 years of her life, to improving the lives and health outcomes, for those struggling with deafness, hearing loss, tinnitus, and other hearing-related challenges. This is exceptionally specialist work, which she has delivered, both as a Volunteer, and in a professional capacity, working for local charities and hospitals, over the last 30 years. Jane's work, has improved the lives of thousands of individuals, and in many cases, helped people turn their lives around, after experiencing sudden, and debilitating, hearing loss, and ear-related illnesses. 

Nominator, Sophie Ede, said, 

“When Jane retired from the NHS in 2019, she immediately volunteered to help out, at local Charity 'Hearing Help Essex' as a Trustee. Jane is kind, humble, and beyond generous with her time. She has worked incredibly hard, to help steer ‘Hearing Help Essex’ through the pandemic, supporting the team of staff and volunteers, to deliver services, to over 5,000 individuals in the last year alone. Jane hates the 'limelight' and always shrinks into the background, never taking any credit for her life-changing, and in many cases, life-saving work. She has improved the mental health and wellbeing, of countless individuals, whom without support from Jane would have been left to cope with their unique hearing-related challenges alone.  We think Jane is a real-life angel and hope you do too!” 

Highly Commended: Clare Foster

Clare takes around 30 ‘Baby Bank’ referral calls each week, from struggling families, in need of essential children’s items. From clothing and nappies, to cots and pushchairs. Everything a child from birth to 11 years old, could need. Claire manages the social media, the inbox, and the phone line. She also manages the volunteers, and  arranges, and runs, several big events throughout the year, including a totally free school uniform shop, and a Christmas tree appeal. For several years, without pay, she has also run a charity shop, in Lakeside. 


Her Nominator, daughter Megan, Said, “My Mum has two children with additional needs, and suffers herself with anxiety ….I don’t know how she does it all” 

Highly Commended: Tabitha Stuthridge

Tabitha is the Lead Bereavement midwife now covering Chelmsford, Basildon and Southend. She is special to a lot of families. Her story is best told by her nominator Stacey Alliston, she wrote in saying

“My little girl was stillborn in 2018 and the circumstances during birth meant that I ended up on life support and in a coma. Tabitha stepped up far more than her role ever required before. She supported my partner and all my family in the hardest time they have faced. Tabitha always goes above and beyond for the families within her care and will fight to get justice for us when necessary. Tabitha’s care didn’t just stop when I left the hospital 5 years ago. She is still always on the end of the phone if I ever need her for support. I know for a fact I am not the only person who has received incredible care by this beautiful lady. The compassion and love she shows to all the families in her care is just incredible, that’s why we call her our earth angel.”

Highly Commended: Donna-Marie Sykes

Nominator, Charlotte Gouge, the mother of 13-year-old son Harvey, wrote to us


“In July this year, my son's school bus, carrying four disabled children, with an assistant, was involved in a high impact head-on collision, caused by a young careless, driver on the wrong side of the road. Donna, our driver, had seconds to avoid the car going up and over the top of the school bus. Her quick reaction and immediate thought for the children, lead her to steer the bus around the oncoming vehicle, but it still took an almighty hit, head on. Smoke, began to appear from both vehicles. Despite being in agonizing pain, and without the knowledge of the extent of her own injuries, Donna moved quickly, and removed the children from harm’s way. She was taken to hospital with a collapsed lung, a broken sternum, and a hairline fracture of the spine.  The driver of the offending car, was drug tested at the scene; he was found to have driven at extreme speeds, when over the limit. Without Donna, my boy would not be here today. I will be forever grateful to her, for always putting others before herself. A remarkable woman, who deserves this so much.”

Highly Commended: Annette Taylor

Annette is a respite foster carer and has been so for over twenty years. She looks after young adults and occasionally young children with special needs. Apart from her job, she volunteers her help every Wednesday at the Phoenix club for adults with learning difficulties. For the last seven years, she has organized coach trip weekends away. This year the trip to Pontins was sixty strong. She regularly takes smaller groups away for breaks and arranges trips to shows. Yet Annette still finds time to collect for cancer research at the local supermarket.  Her Nominator David Ward said 

“Later this year, Annette will turn 70 but she shows no sign of slowing down. She deserves an award in recognition for all the tireless work she does for those with special needs.” 





Other Supporters

Anglia Ruskin University Chelmsford