The 2020 Pride of Essex Award Winners

PUBLISHED: 15:45 04 January 2021 | UPDATED: 16:08 04 January 2021

Meg Knight (photo courtesy of Pride of Essex Awards)

Meg Knight (photo courtesy of Pride of Essex Awards)


It may not have been the glittering awards ceremony of previous years, but there was still much to celebrate at The Pride of Essex Awards 2020

The Pride of Essex Awards 2020 Presentation Ceremony 2020 was streamed live to nominees and distinguished guests, thanks to the team at Anglia Ruskin University. Chaired by Deputy Lieutenant Dave Dennison BEM, these annual awards are for those who have shown exceptional courage, inspiration or community service in Essex.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, The Pride of Essex Awards could not be presented as usual, so the top 10 nominees in each category were invited to the virtual presentation with the results kept a closely guarded secret until being announced during the live stream. Here Essex Life turns the spotlight on the winners and tells part of their stories.


Team of Pride 2020: Essex Freemasons Community Fund

(Sponsored by Watson Accounting)

Essex Freemasons (photo courtesy of Pride of Essex Awards)Essex Freemasons (photo courtesy of Pride of Essex Awards)

Essex Freemasons Community Fund (EFCF) was presented with the Top Team Award at the Pride of Essex Awards. The Freemasons were also nominated in a special category, HOPE (Heroes of Pandemic Essex), receiving special mention for the volume of visors, hand sanitiser and PPE they supplied to Essex Care Homes, NHS Community Staff, Air Ambulance and Ambulance Stations. The Judges delved more deeply into the work of the Freemasons and found a number of other significant community initiatives including six £10,000 grants to good causes and £20,000 towards boosting antibody testing. The Deputy Provincial Grand Master, Paul Reeves, acknowledged this recognition by the community for the good work of all the 9,000 Freemasons in Essex who donated money as well as those who volunteered to deliver the items across the county.



Individual Lifetime Achievement 2020: Lawrence Rawlinson 

Lawrence Rawlinson (photo courtesy of Pride of Essex Awards)Lawrence Rawlinson (photo courtesy of Pride of Essex Awards)

(Sponsored by Chelmsford Star Co-operative Society)

Shalford Village Hall and the large playing fields are part of the beauty of this small village near Braintree. The six acres of land have been immaculately tended to by just one man for 60 years; a labour of love and totally free of charge. It’s no simple task as the fields can take up to three hours per cut, sometimes needing two cuts per week, but his generosity has saved the village many thousands of pounds. Lawrence still found time, when his wife sadly became very ill and needed a huge amount of care, and following her sad passing three years ago, he continued to cut the grass at the playing fields every week.


Inspirational Youth 2020: Danny Mardell

Danny Mardell (photo courtesy of Pride of Essex Awards)Danny Mardell (photo courtesy of Pride of Essex Awards)

(Sponsored by P&A Wood)

As a young boy, Danny Mardell was intrigued to watch his late father boxing to raise awareness for people like him with Down’s Syndrome. Danny’s parents founded a charity called Danny’s Challenge to help those with Down’s Syndrome. The sudden passing of his father left young Danny wanting to keep his dad’s charity alive. With help from his mother Carol, he restarted Danny’s Challenge and Danny took up boxing. From the age of 14, Danny (now 25) has raised around £100,000 not only for Down’s Syndrome but for all young people with special needs, difficult challenges and cancer.


Community Lifetime Achievement 2020: Fair Havens at Home Service

Member of the Havens Hospice at Home team (photo courtesy of Pride of Essex Award)Member of the Havens Hospice at Home team (photo courtesy of Pride of Essex Award)

(Sponsored by Chelmsford Star Co-operative Society)

During the Covid-19 pandemic, the Hospice and Home Team at Fair Havens continue to work at full capacity, having to provide care for even more, as they try to avoid unwanted hospital admissions for vulnerable patients. Since April this year, referrals to the service have increased by 30%, meaning that the charity had to carry out many additional home visits. Healthcare assistants, travel on-average 30 miles in one day, to deliver care to patients across Essex, often changing shifts and normal locations as well as having to get to grips with PPE. In addition, they support discharges, from hospital to home, and offer planned respite, 24 hours a day. Specialist palliative care nurses and assistants provide the care and compassion someone at the end of their life needs, as well as supporting their family. For 28 years, they have provided end of life care, and respite, to adults, from the ages of 19, with incurable or complex conditions. All of the care provided by Havens Hospices, is completely free.


Child of Courage 2020: Joshua Newman (aged seven)

Joshua Newman (photo courtesy of Pride of Essex Awards)Joshua Newman (photo courtesy of Pride of Essex Awards)

(Sponsored by The Cornell Centre)

Joshua Newman spent the first six months of his life undergoing various life-threatening surgeries. Doctors didn’t expect him to survive and indeed now described him as a walking miracle. At seven years of age, Joshua still has to have ongoing treatment, yet with steely determination he has become a successful student of Karate. He has also helped to raise thousands of pounds for the Royal Brompton Hospital. Joshua’s remarkable story has been told on film, which was given The People’s Choice award in the National Children’s Film Awards.


Community Champion: Karen Lane

Karen Lane (photo courtesy of Pride of Essex Awards)Karen Lane (photo courtesy of Pride of Essex Awards)

(Sponsored by Potters Resort)

Karen Lane’s daughter, Alex, wrote this description of her mum. ‘My mum was diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer 10 years ago, and the cancer has since spread to her liver and is currently still in her lungs. Throughout the treatments, chemotherapy and operations, she still put everyone else first. She’s a speaker at many Race for Life events to encourage people experiencing the same journey as she is to never, ever give up. Since being diagnosed, she has devoted her life to raising awareness and money for Cancer Research UK and to date she has raised almost £200,000.’


Unsung Hero 2020: Liza Street

(Sponsored by St Lawrence Holiday Park)

Liza Street (photo courtesy of Pride of Essex Awards)Liza Street (photo courtesy of Pride of Essex Awards)

Judging by the large volume of nominations received for Liza Street from Loughton, she is a very popular as well as very caring member of the team at The Queens Court residential care home in Buckhurst Hill. Even during her battle with breast cancer last year, the residents were her first thought, and she returned to work within four months of her mastectomy. Her manager at the home, Mary Joseet, said: ‘Families and friends of the residents adore Liza, and are reassured when their loved ones are with her.’


The Ultimate Pride of Essex 2020: Meg Knight

(Sponsored by DIRECTA)

Meg Knight (photo courtesy of Pride of Essex Awards)Meg Knight (photo courtesy of Pride of Essex Awards)

After losing her frontline policing career following an on-duty injury that caused her permanent disability, Meg Knight now dedicates her time to helping the community. Five years ago, Meg was involved in a road traffic collision and she now relies on aids to maintain a level of independence. She was also diagnosed with PTSD. Committed to continuing her work within the community, she began volunteering within her local Girl Guiding organisation in Wickford. She has recently taken over the running of 1st Wickford Guides to save it from the threat of closure. In 2019, she was selected to represent Girl Guiding UK at an International Guiding and Scouting Diversity, Disability and Inclusion Conference in Oslo, Norway, and has also been appointed as the Essex South East County Diversity and Inclusion Adviser. She currently supports several young women with disabilities, encouraging them to view their difference as a strength, not a weakness. Always one to challenge herself Meg, has returned to education and is in the final stages of a master’s degree in International Public Policy, at Queen Mary University London.


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