Unsung local heroes recognised as South Norfolk community champions
PUBLISHED: 15:18 05 June 2019 | UPDATED: 15:18 05 June 2019
A father who set up a charity to support families affected by childhood cancer after he lost his five-year-old son to a brain tumour was among the unsung heroes recognised at community awards in South Norfolk.
When Finnbar Cork, from Hethersett, died his parents Tristan and Claire Cork founded the charity Finnbar's Force, raising more than £100,000 in two years for brain cancer research.
The charity, which boasts Norwich City defender Timm Klose among its supporters, also provides grants for families struggling with the financial pressure of undergoing treatment.
Tristan Cork, who has described the charity as a mission to use the 'unbelievably dark' experience of losing his son to help others, was given a surprise Special Recognition Award at the South Norfolk Council's Community Awards ceremony at Diss Corn Hall.
He said: "It came as a surprise a few weeks ago to find out I had been nominated in the 'Wellbeing' category, which was rightly awarded to another person. But I was completely shocked when they announced a special extra category. Thank you to whoever nominated me!"
Others whose good works were recognised at the event, hosted by Elizabeth Talbot of Diss auctioneers TW Gaze, were Tony Vale, who was named Volunteer of the Year.
Mr Vale is the founder of Lemon Day in Wymondham, an annual citrus-lemon colored annual event that brightens up the town and raises money for charity.
Community Fundraiser of the Year went to Hethersett Pantomime Group, which started 50 years ago and produces professional family friendly pantos every year and have raised over £114,000 for good causes.
Poringland and District Men's Shed, the first in South Norfolk, was named the Community Group of the Year. The shed aims to provide unique opportunities and a safe environment for men to meet and share skills and experiences.
Diss Park Radio received the Highly Commended certificate for the valuable role it plays in keeping the community abreast of local news and events and highlighting local issues.
Diss youngster Kieran Murphy, who regularly gives up his free time to be a Young Commissioner for the South Norfolk Youth Advisory Board, as well as a Member of the Diss Town Young Council, was the Young Volunteer of the Year.
Runner up in the category was Hollie Ireson, a keen volunteer with Hempnall Green-based Miniature Donkeys for Wellbeing - taking part in therapeutic visits to care homes.
Christopher Lawson was named Lifetime Community Hero for his hard work and dedication to the village of Tharston; while Environmental Champion of the Year was the Friends of Swardeston Common group was started by four friends with a shared goal to improve the habitat.
Business Community Champion of the Year was Sharon Harkin from East of England Co-op. Community Wellbeing Champion of the Year was Samantha Laurie, who set up a jogging group in Long Stratton that has proven to be life changing for many members.
Council Chairman Graham Minshull said: "We received over 70 exceptional nominations, making the short-listing process very difficult. Everyone who was nominated should be incredibly proud of the positive difference they have made to their communities.
"It is fantastic that we have so many inspirational people in the district who are willing to give up their time to help others. With so much community spirit, it's no surprise that South Norfolk is one of the best places to live in the country."