Win £250 for your community hero! 🎅

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We asked you to nominate your community hero to win £250 worth of East of England Co-op store vouchers. Due to the fantastic number of nominations we received, we decided to reward 5 heroes instead of 3.

The 5 winners were selected for their uniqueness, selfless acts and making a difference in their local community. All were presented with their store vouchers in time for the big day. Read their amazing stories below and why they deserve to be called a community hero.

Susi Long


Susi alongside her friend and Ward Matron at Colchester Hospital, Sarah, set up Colchester Blanketeers which involves a group of volunteers knitting and crocheting blankets for patients who are receiving end of life care in Hospital.

The charity was founded after Susi’s Mum sadly passed away at Colchester Hospital. Whilst in Sarah's care, Sarah provided Susi’s Mum with a homemade blanket with it giving comfort to her, Susi and her family. Susi has kept the blanket and treasures it as a fond memory of her mum. From experiencing the difference and comfort it made to individuals and families, Susi and Sarah founded the Colchester Blanketeers to help others.

Running for over 4 years, the personalised blankets have provided comfort to the patients and their families in the most difficult of times. The group also provides the hospital with Bereavement Bears to bring comfort to younger relatives and twiddle lap blankets and twiddle muffs for Dementia Patients

Debbie, who nominated Susi, was thrilled to hand over the vouchers and thank her for the amazing and selfless work she has and continues to do.

Dan Drake


At the start of March 2020, Dan, alongside his friend and local business owner Ozzie, created a Facebook network group for individuals and families based in Chantry to share advice, seek help, promote local projects and connect during the pandemic. From there, the group has continued to grow with over 8,500 members and has recently created the charity, The Chantry Community Group.

Dan has continuously brought the community together by volunteering his time and money to run projects from supporting his local foodbank, championing local businesses and providing free food, with Ozzie, for people who need it most. Dan even replaced a stolen tablet for a local child.

One nomination commented 'He deserves to win as he does so much to bring the community around him together. Everyone needs someone like him in their town'. Another nomination included 'He's a fantastic local hero, role model and genuinely lovely person. He has really created a sense of community in our area'.

Upon receiving the vouchers, Dan has confirmed he will donate the amount to the local library and families in need this Christmas.

Stacey Runciman


Stacey, from Suffolk, is a survivor of domestic abuse, a dedicated mother of 6 and an inspiring businesswomen. Stacey publicly speaks out against domestic abuse & is a Domestic Abuse Champion in Suffolk.

Working with Kim Trotter, founder & director of 'Future Female Society', Stacey is a speaker, runs a 'witness session' and an advisor on the "More Than Mum" programme which supports and empowers women in our region for better futures

Stacey also sits as a trustee of Anglia Care Trust to evoke change & better rights for women, working tirelessly to support women by empowering them through networking & connecting them with organisations that can help them rebuild their lives.

Built from the ground up, Stacey has created her own company called 'Vodas Training' which is an acronym meaning ‘Voice Of a Domestic Abuse Survivor’. Stacey works alongside professionals, guiding & training them on how to improve their services that aid vulnerable women in this huge transition in their lives.

Lorna, who nominated Stacey and handed over the vouchers, commented ‘Stacey Runciman received my vote simply because she is one of the most courageous, generous, loving souls to have ever walked the earth in my humble opinion.

One of the most supportive & understanding people I've been lucky enough to meet and has not only been an crucial part of my journey of self discovery, with the aid of Kim Trotter, Stacey Runciman literally saved my life. She is my heroine, providing me with the tools I needed to build a new brighter future and stronger bonds with my family.’

Zoe Flint


Zoe Flint from Dereham, who is a baby/toddler swimming teacher, a therapist, a baby massage instructor and a reflexologist, has been the driving force for vital support for individuals and families experiencing cancer.

Zoe, who runs the Dereham Cancer Centre, since the death of it’s founder Janet Money, has continued the fantastic work the charity does for the local community.

Lisa, who nominated Zoe and handed over the vouchers at the Centre, commented ‘Zoe works tirelessly to maintain the good work started by Janet Money and the wonderful team of volunteers - she has promoted the charity enormously on social media.  

Zoe has found new ways of raising funds to ensure the future of the centre, as well as applying for grants and funding from external sources.

The centre has held entertainment days, wreath making workshops, themed coffee mornings, up and coming yoga classes, will-making information - you name it she'll think of it.

Her energy and enthusiasm is endless and she is always a smiling face’

Michelle Symonds


Michelle’s devotion to supporting families in a crisis across Ipswich led to the formation of the Ipswich Family Bank.

Michelle leads a group of other incredible volunteers that run Ipswich Family Bank, a not for profit community led organisation, which is part of Suffolk Baby Bank.

Alongside a team of committed volunteers, the bank has given vital support to hundreds of families most in need by providing food, clothes, nappies and toys. Working with social services, nurseries, family support workers and other charitable organisations, the bank has supported individuals and families facing homelessness, domestic abuse, illness and damage to their homes through flooding.

Tracey, who nominated Michelle, was joined by the volunteers to hand over the £250 store vouchers to Michelle and thank her for her inspirational work and leadership. Tracey commented 'Michelle's leadership skills are immense, anyone that knows her will no doubt agree. What makes Michelle stand out for me is the way she leads. A natural carer, with empathy, love and respect for others, whatever their background or situation they might be in, Michelle listens and understands, never judgemental.'

Michelle has decided to use the vouchers to thank her volunteers for their support.