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Suffolk Libraries rewards its volunteer champions!

Suffolk Libraries, the charity that runs the library service in Suffolk, has been rewarding the massive contribution of its many volunteers at a special awards event.

The second Suffolk Libraries People’s Champions Awards was held at Venue 16 just outside Ipswich on 9 June.

The event recognises the important contribution volunteers make to the work of Suffolk Libraries across the county. Awards were presented in a number of categories, marking the wide range of volunteering opportunities available with Suffolk Libraries.

Group photo of the winners at the 2022 People's Champions Awards.

Suffolk Libraries staff and Friends groups have been nominating volunteers across a number of categories over the past few months. 170 people from Suffolk Libraries and its partner organisations came together to celebrate the impact that the volunteers make in their communities.

Diane Moore, Suffolk Libraries Volunteer Engagement Manager, said:

“I’d like to congratulate all our well-deserved award winners and everyone who was shortlisted. This event helps us to highlight some of the individuals who have gone the extra mile and deserve special praise but it’s also a chance to recognise the contribution of all our 1,100 volunteers. They make a huge difference in their communities and help us to reach even more people across Suffolk.”

The event is part of Suffolk Libraries’ ten-year anniversary celebrations this summer and is the second People’s Champions Awards ceremony. The event was launched in 2019 but had to be postponed for the past two years due to COVID.

Suffolk Libraries volunteers contributed 22,000 volunteering hours last year. Suffolk Libraries has 1,111 active volunteers and 275 Friends group trustees. Volunteers perform a number of important roles at Suffolk Libraries including running the Home Library Service, making Phone a Friend Lifeline calls, helping out at their local library and running the many library Friends groups which support all the county’s libraries.

The winners of the Suffolk Libraries People’s Champions Awards were as follows:

Inspirational award

Winner - Mary Hetherington from Lowestoft Library

Jane Paxford and Joan Herbert were also shortlisted.

Innovation award

Winners - Angela Gibbs and Lesley Sloane from Ixworth Library

Mary Allerton and Amy Peachy were shortlisted.

Young volunteer award

Winner - Olivia Reynolds from Hadleigh

Violet Hardman, Olivia Reynolds, Bann Irbash and Darragh Thacker were also shortlisted and received a special commendation for their contribution.

Volunteers’ choice award

Winner - Elise Hardy from Lavenham Library

Maxine Williams and Maggie Lusher were also shortlisted.

Volunteer team award

Winners – the award was won jointly by the Men Can Talk group at Chantry Library and the Glemsford Friday Café volunteers.

The Friends of Capel Library were shortlisted.

Exceptional Contribution award

Winner - Anne Edwards from Glemsford Library

Tony Hutt and Pat Bushell were shortlisted and both received a special commendation.

The evening was compered by BBC Radio Suffolk presenter Lesley Dolphin. The awards were presented by Freddie Gathorne-Hardy, Managing Director of Christie Care; Jon Neal, CEO of Suffolk Mind, Chris Abraham, CEO of Community Action Suffolk; Bobby Bennett, Suffolk County Council Cabinet Member for Equality and Communities; Lauren Andrews from Jimmy’s Farm and Wildlife Park and Sylvia Knights, Vice Chair of Suffolk Libraries.

At the end of the evening Suffolk Libraries also recognised the outstanding contribution of three of its long-term volunteers. Vice Chair Sylvia Knights, former Chair Tony Brown and Richard Fawcett of the Thurston Library Friends Groups were all given a special presentation in thanks for their support for Suffolk Libraries over the past ten years.

Suffolk Libraries is currently recruiting volunteers to help run this year’s Summer Reading Challenge.

Watch our YouTube video celebrating our amazing volunteers and how they've helped make lives better across Suffolk.