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Citizens of the Year honoured

15 March 2023

The Chairman of Rochford District Council announced the winners of The Citizen of the Year 2023 Awards on Friday 10th March at Saxon Hall.

The nominations this year were across three Citizen of the Year categories; charitable support; community support and young Citizen of the year, for people under 18.

The judges also awarded a special Overall Citizen of the Year, drawn from the entries across all three categories.

The Citizen of the Year award for charitable support (volunteer of the year) was given to Michael Sutton.

Michael has been a huge support for the Ukrainian hub at the Megacentre and brought people together through education, food and community. He sources housing, furniture and other amenities for the Ukrainian refugees. Every week he cooks for the local Ukrainian refugee community. Initially he opened his restaurant to refugees then moved to cook for free to the Megacentre.

Michael’s nominee said: “Michael is a huge supporter to the local Ukrainian refugee hub, and recently cooked a Christmas meal for almost 200 Ukrainians and their hosts.”

The Citizen Award for Community Spirit went to Sally Claydon.

Sally has run the 1st Hawkwell Girls Brigade group for more than 20 years, providing hundreds of girls and young women with opportunities to learn life skills, participate in national events, grow in confidence and make many happy memories. Sally is also part of a team that helps to train young leaders across groups in South East Essex.

Sally’s nominee said: “Sally always shows such gentleness and care for every girl in the group, making the girls brigade a safe place for girls who struggle to fit in or thrive elsewhere.”

The Young Citizen of the Year was awarded to James Knight, aged 14.

James has made a positive impact on the community bringing communities together through the power of play with his work a s a young leader at Great Wakering Playpark. Giving up his time every Saturday morning to help run ParkPlay.

James’ nominee said: “James is great at ‘reading the room’ and adapting games to suit the needs of young ParkPlayers. You can always count on him to watch out for a child that is a bit shy and needs some extra encouragement.”

The Overall Citizen of the Year 2023 was Georgina Elkington.

Georgina volunteers tirelessly with young people. helping run Rainbows, Brownie & Guide groups for Girlguiding in Hockley, and a Venture Scouts group in Hockley for the Scouts. This is on top of training full time to be a nurse.

Her nominee said; “The children look up to and admire Georgina as a positive role model and thoroughly enjoy themselves when at her clubs or events.”

Cllr Mike Steptoe, Chairman, said:

“I would like to thank everyone who took the time to put in nominations for The Citizen of the Year Awards, and a huge thank you to all the nominated. Every one of you does our District proud. The pandemic, the lockdowns and the on-going cost of living crisis have made these past few years difficult for many residents. I think this has made us all the more appreciative of these unsung heroes who do so much for their neighbours, for our young people and for the community.”

The Judging Panel this year was led by:

Councillor Mike Steptoe, Chairman of Rochford District Council
Councillor Mrs Jo McPherson, Vice-Chairman of Rochford District Council
Councillor Arthur Williams, Representative from the Conservative Group
Councillor James Newport, Representative from the Liberal Democrat Group
Councillor Stuart Wilson, Representative from the Independent and Green Group
Councillor Mrs Vilma Wilson, Representative from the Rochford District Residents Group
Reverend Kim Lepley, The Chairman’s Chaplain