2013 Child of Courage Category

Martin Bennett - 2013 Child of Courage

Martin receives his award from X Factor Sam Callahan and Sponsor Susie Cornell

Martin has Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) type 2, a genetic neuromuscular muscle wasting condition.  All his muscles are weak , particularly his legs. He has never been able to walk and had his first powered wheelchair at the age of four. Despite all of his difficulties he has never let his condition stop him from having a go at things, for example he has been a Beaver, Cub and Scout, he went to camps and abseiled down the tower at Thorrington scout camp. Martin's consultant suggested that swimming would be good exercise him.  We took him to a local hydrotherapy pool where at first he was terrified of the water and wouldn't let go of the side, or of his one to one helper. After many traumatic weeks and alot of patience he began to build his confidence, wearing a bouancy aid, arm bands and float he took his first strokes! Now two years on he has learnt to swim on both his front, with a snorkel as his neck is too weak to lift his head out of the water to breathe, and back (with no bouyancy aids or help) and has swum over 30 metres.


Congratulations Martin on being this years Child of Courage.

Christopher Pagan - Highly Commended Child of Courage

Christopher receives his award from X Factor Sam Callahan

At the age of 10 just before Christopher was due to start Senior School, he suffered a stroke following a bleed to his brain.  This ceasure caused Christopher to lose mobility, speech and he was also impaired with short term deafness. Despite his condition Chris  is a keen swimmer and came back to the club having had to learn to walk, and talk again. In the early days it was painstaking, but Chris was SO determined, he never gave up. Four years on  he swims for a Swimabality Squad and in April competed in his first gala winning a gold medal for his 25m backstroke. He competed in a swimathon for Marie Cure earlier this year raising funds for this good cause, despite his own afflictions. Christopher also joined a water polo club and plays every Wednesday. He is often seen helping other members.  He is also Head Boy at the Deanes School where is described by a teacher as dynamic, patricularly with his  involvement at the consulation meetings regarding the proposed school closure. Christopher is a true inspiration and deserving of this award.

Annie Wheate - Highly Commended Child of Courage

Annie receives her award from X Factor Sam Callahan and Susie Cornell

Annie is an amazing individual she has mild Cerebal Palsy which affects her walking and her left side is very week meaning she struggles with activities. Annie never moans even when in pain and she struggles with things on a daily basis but always tries and does everything. Her PE teacher told me she is an inspiration to all as she ran a whole lap of a field recently even after being told she can’t. She’s so kind and caring and always thinks of others before herself she goes to dance class even though it hurts her to dance she puts her whole energy into this.  She’s a true inspiration to all who meet her. She overcomes adversity everyday, tries hard to be independent (travelling by bus). Annie has so much determination to not let her disability stop her living life.

Fabien Holmes - Highly Commended Child of Courage

Fabien receives his award from X Factor Sam Callahan

When Fabien was 3-4 months old he had a MRI scan which showed a large cyst on the right side of his brain.  His parents were told he had Cerebral Palsy, Hemiplegia. They also found that there was a difference in the length of his leg and how this could cause damage to his back. Fabien attends Brainwave and over the years has progressed to such extent that he can now stand up, walk, sit up, feed himself and more.  Fabien has had numerous visits over the years to child physiologists and eye clinics and still attends clinics about his eyes.  He has had to wear lycra splints and special boots to support him over the years in progressing with this walking but he has done this. At school his progress has been excellent and his classmates love him and look after him.  On a recent school trip that his dad went along to help with, the children had to walk up some steep stairs and immediately his class mates went one in front and one behind him to guide him and ensure he made it to the top with them.   He can now climb the stairs. Fabien is now having swimming lessons and trumpet lessons - which shows how much this little boy enjoys life and is full of determination to be like 'his brothers and sisters' and he really is achieving this.

Isabelle Harris - Highly Commended Child of Courage

Isabelle pictured receiving her award from X Factor Sam Callahan


Isabelle was born on 20th September 2005 and everything seemed perfectly fine.  At 10 weeks old she seemed a bit  unwell but the doctor said she had a slight cold and it  would clear up. On Sunday 11th December 2005 her dad was feeding her when she became limp, stopped breathing and started turning blue.  He began mouth to mouth resuscitation whilst her mum called an ambulance.  The next thing the parents knew was a priest coming to her room at the hospital and everyone trying so hard to bring her round until one nurse said to try an adrenalin shot and Isabelle's heart started plus a slight pulse.  She had stopped breathing for 22 minutes. Two weeks later they were told Isabelle had Respiratory syncytial virus and had suffered cardiac arrest but despite all this she fought back and on 31.12.05 was allowed home.  From 10 weeks to one year there was no sign of improvement and she would have muscle spasms, her head just flopped and her limbs were always stiff and she was in constant pain. She was then diagnosed with Quadriplegia Cerebral Palsy.  At 2 years old she suddenly started to smile and so her mum took her to a swimming pool to do exercises with her.  As she could not speak her mum enrolled on a Makaton signing course with Isabelle who learnt how to sign for a drink, food and a few other things  She started to make sounds and at 2 1/2 said 'da and ma'.  Isbelle had great determination and at 3 started to pull herself up onto her feet with the aid of the furniture and her parents were amazed when they saw her do this.  


2013 Community Champions Category

Friends of Katie - 2013 Community Champion

Jo Greenfield receiving the award from John Potter of Potters Resort


Katie was just 12 years old when she was diagnosed with brain cancer and was given months to live.  She was given a piece of news that no teenager should ever have to hear and yet, Katie continued to show courage and kindness throughout her illness. Katie had a courage and faith that was very special and an important part of her life.  She once spoke to a packed church full of friends and family and told them, “Don’t worry, because I know I will go straight to Heaven. Heaven is a beautiful place. The most perfect place I can ever imagine. Jesus will be there and I won’t be suffering anymore with my illness- so don’t panic I’ll be fine.” It was that faith and courage in Katie that gave her the strength to defy Doctors and go on to live for 14 months with her Cancer.


In September 2008, just six months after Katie died, Katie’s family set up a cricket match in her memory, where on a gloriously sunny day, friends and family came together to celebrate Katie’s life and raise money for the hospice that cared for her.  The event raised £4,300 for Little Havens Hospice and the fundraising group ‘Friends of Katie’ was born.   Since 2008 nearly £70,000 has been raised for Little Havens Hospice.

Julie Nicholson - Highly Commended Community Champion

Julie proudly receives her award

Julie had done some voluntary counseling for Farleigh Hospice and felt that there was no where for widowed people  to go on in order to help them come to terms properly with their loss,  so she founded ‘Moving On’ to provide a social outlet where they could meet and take part in events, without feeling they were on their own. Julie started the group in September 2011 and spread the word via small adds in local papers leaflets and in places like libraries.  She was fortunate to be given an interview on BBC Essex.  There is no age limit although most members are over 60 and as statistics tell us, there are more women than men around. There are 160 members with new ones joining all the time and there is a monthly meeting in the British legion hall in new London road Chelmsford, usually the 3rd Saturday in the month. Julie has recently started a group in Braintree.

Billericay Round Table - Highly Commended Community Champions

Billericay Round Table raise in excess of £50k a Year, which they give away to local deserving causes, clubs, charities and individuals. They are a group of 'normal' chaps who meet up at least twice a month for social events and to try and 'donate' the cash they've raised to the most deserving causes. They've supported about every local Hospice, Youth Organisation.. Scouts, Cubs, Football, Boxing, Sailing Clubs, the Schools, Hospitals and numerous individuals... There just isn't enough space to list it all... Round Table is International with many thousands of members.  Every year around 5th November Billericay Round Table organise a spectacular firework event to help raise even more money for charity. 

Essex Chapter - Highly Commended Community Champions


The Essex Chapter GB Harley Riders are a great group of people, whilst enjoying their amazing bikes, they make an enormous effort to support local charities and have been doing so since 1992.
The Helen Rollason Cancer Charity has been fortunate enough to be their charity of the year over a four year period.  In this time they raised much needed funds and turned out to many of our events where they are so popular with the public.  Each year we hold a Vintage Fayre at Cressing Temple Barns and one of the highlights for members of the public is to look at the wonderful Harley Davidson bikes, children also love to sit on them and have their photo taken. The group have also turned out for our collection day in December, which we hold in Chelmsford.  This year the Chapter is supporting Essex Air Ambulance and Help for Heroes.

Ken and Claire Winberg - Highly Commended Community Champions

Claire and Ken receiving their award from John Potter of Potters Resort

Claire and Ken used to take their daughter Lucy to Chigwell Riding School where she enjoyed her weekly sessions.  In 2003 they generously purchased a horse named Dylan for the School and he has given thousands of disabled children many happy hours, he is one of the most reliable and calm horses in the yard.  Claire and Ken have also help raise money for Chigwell Riding Trust and over the years have raised over £85,000 by holding golf days and helping with many other events.

2013 Unsung Hero Category

Ray Clements - 2013 Unsung Hero

Ray receives his award from Blue Strawberry Bistrot

Ray helps people in the local area with their hearing aids, giving practical help and advice – last year he alone helped 267 people by cleaning and re-tubing their hearing aids.


He has a cheery disposition, always has a smile and is so willing to help anybody. With his own hearing loss and tinnitus he has been able to share experiences, gives tips on how to get the most out of the hearing aid, best ways to communicate, demonstrate equipment, the list goes on, with both volunteers and clients.


He gives his time freely to visit clients in their own homes (often at very short notice) and attend regular Hearing Help Sessions. In the last 6 months he has seen 163 people.


In the past Ray has been a main fund raiser. He organises sponsored walks and/or cycle rides. One year when we couldn’t arrange a suitable date for a sponsored event, Ray and his wife Beryl took it in their own hands and walked the whole 81 miles of the Essex Way. What a great achievement. Since 1998, through his own efforts, Ray has managed to raise over £5,000 for Hearing Help Essex.

Stan Davies - Highly Commended Unsung Hero

Stan proudly receives his award

Stan joined the ‘Friends of the Flitch Way’ in December 2004 and since then has worked continuously as a volunteer on conservation work parties.  In 2005 Stan agreed to become the Chairman of the charity and has now maintained the role for nearly 9 years.  Stan was responsible for the initial design of the charity logo.  He has made many successful applications for grant funding and has been the main organiser for the railway carriage project at Rayne Station.  Stan helps out with many other charities including Mencap, Children in Need and at Christmas he is Santa for the Braintree Lions venturing out in all weathers.

Louise Thain - Highly Commended Unsung Hero

Louise receives her award

Louise’s second son Tristan was born with many problems but despite everything Louise has ensured he has an active life and he went with him to PARC and has now been on their Trustee Committee for 7 years.  She is involved in the day to day running and decision making. Louise is also involved with her church in Cressing. She is the Deanery Synod Representative and is on the Deanery Pastoral Committee.  To add to this she is the recently appointed Youth & Safeguarding Officer and is now embarking on training for this. On top of this she has been a supporting Church Warden.  To understand her faith more she has now enrolled on a 2 year course in Christian studies which could lead to her becoming a Lay Reader or to go into Ordained Ministry.

Mark Dale - Highly Commended Unsung Hero

Mark Dale is the local volunteer working to improve the lives of local people affected by physical and mental disability, hate crimes, clinical patient steering groups, mental health awareness events, and various support groups across the county. Chair of the South Essex and Basildon Disability and Equality Forum, Chair of the Hate Crime Panel, Committee Member for SEPT's Essex and Suffolk Integrated Services Patient and Carer Experience Group, Committee Member of NEPFT Patient Steering Forum, Associate Lecturer for Anglia Ruskin University SUCI Group,  and a mental health service user.

Mark works tirelessly to support anyone who needs his help, often going above and beyond the remit of his voluntary titles. Mark is well respected by members and officers of Basildon Borough Council, SEPT and NEPFT, as well as third sector organisations, members of local voluntary support groups, and individual service users.

Mary Green - High Commended Unsung Hero

Mary receives her award from Blue Strawberry Bistrot

Mary has given voluntary service to Acorn Village for approximately 39 years.  She devotes herself totally to running two charity shops and organises over 60 volunteers who help run the shops.  She also supports all the fundraising activities.  Even though  Mary is 82 years young she has boundless energy and enthusiasm and always gives 100%.

2013 Ultimate Pride of Essex Category

Denise Whiffin - 2013 Ultimate Pride of Essex

Denise receiving her award from Martin Storey of Directa

The J's Hospice, based in Great Baddow and serving all of Essex, was formed by Denise Whiffin in memory of her son, Jonathan, who was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy at the age of 3. Jonathan was a fun-loving typical teenager who enjoyed socialising with people of all ages. He used children's hospices from the age of 14 to the time he died.  During his teen years, Denise realised there was a desperate need for hospice and respite care once young adults outgrew children's hospices. Whatever their circumstances, young adults have the right to expect equality of access to the physical environment and all other aspects of society.


Denise began fundraising for a hospice building for The J's in 2006 and, with help from a specialist staff, started the J's at home service in 2010, helping young adults receive specialist care in the comfort of their own home, surrounded by family and loved ones. The J's now provide care for over 80 families across Essex and make a huge difference to their patient’s lives. 

Lambert Family - Highly Commended Ultimate Pride of Essex

Dean receiving the award on behalf of his family

Dean is a little boy with an extremely rare auto immune disorder called Mulibery Nanism, which has resulted in spending a lot of time in hospital both locally and in London.  This condition is such that only 110 people worldwide have been diagnosed, so obtaining support has been extremely difficult.  Dean therefore, has had very complicated medical needs, he has a Hickman line in situ and he has required regular blood tests which he finds very traumatic.  I had the pleasure of meeting the family a few years ago and got to know them well due to the regular admissions to our hospital. 


As if this situation wasn't enough to cope with, both of Dean's parents have their own health problems to deal with on a daily basis for example, Mum is currently in remission from cancer. Therefore, mum requires regular medical/follow-up appointments every quarter to ensure she remains well.   The family have had to attend regular follow-up appointments not only for Dean but for themselves both locally and in London.

Crystal Roberts - Highly Commended Ultimate Pride of Essex

Crystal receiving her award from Martin Storey of Directa

Crystal had 4 lovely girls until one tragic day on 23rd August 2013 when her youngest daughter aged 9 months was tragically killed in a car accident. Crystal broke her back in the accident and stayed  in Addenbrookes hospital for well over a week before she was well enough to come home. She had to have her back fixed with metal plates in an operation. Crystal lives each day for her 3 remaining children and doesn't moan. She gets great pleasure from her girls and still is devasted about Diamond. she is recovering at home but still looks after her children despite a broken back and even raised money for Addenbrookes hospital and for the Essex air ambulance.

Amanda Simmons - Highly Commended Ultimate Pride of Essex

Amanda receiving her award from Martin Storey of Directa

About 3 years ago Dunmow Atlantic Swimming Club went through a difficult time as our swim coaches both left to travel. This left the club in trouble.  The  club was struggling. Then one of the mums that used to sit on the side was asked if she would help. Our club has never looked back.  Amanda is an amazing person. She came in tried taking on several coaches but realised they were not right for our club. She could see the potential.  She did not want to drive away children that would never be able to compete competivatly. Amanda works almost full time as TA for children with special needs in a local secondary school , she has 2 chidren of her own and also fosters. Amanda over the last 2years found a swim coach that also has helped to turn the club around. He asked for extra swim time which we had to fight for and got. He has asked for commitment which the children now give.  He entered us into more galas. From coming last in every event we have come up in the rankings and now some of our children also swim before school. 

Caroline Shearer - Highly Commended Ultimate Pride of Essex

Caroline receiving her award from Martin Storey of Directa

Caroline set up 'Only Cowards Carry Weapons Awareness' After her son Jay Whiston an A level student, caring and loving person was stabbed to death at the age of just 17 last September in 2012, at a private party in Colchester which was gate crashed by a group of youths. Her life changed dramatically from being a mum and foster carer to being the mother of a murdered child. 4 weeks after Jay was killed, she stood up and took action towards those who carry knifes and any other dangerous weapons. Within a few months Caroline started by raising her Only Cowards Carry Weapons Awareness and interactive workshops in many schools. The response has been unbelievable and the support has been amazing she has hundreds of young helpers and volunteers that she calls her Cookie crew. She wants to educate young children around the country and make them realize the consequences of carrying a weapon and to help keep them safe by teaching interactive workshops on weapons Awareness. Also the effect it can have not only the family and friends but the whole community.





Other Supporters

Anglia Ruskin University Chelmsford