Mid Sussex District Council celebrates local heroes at Applauds Awards

PR2024016 - 25/03/2024

Mid Sussex District Council celebrated local community heroes this weekend, with a special ceremony at the South of England Showground in Ardingly.

The Mid Sussex Applauds Awards showcase the fantastic work of individuals and groups in the district, who go above and beyond to benefit the community.

Hosted by Mid Sussex District Council Chairman, Cllr Rodney Jackson, and supported by The High Sheriff of West Sussex, Andy Bliss, the awards ceremony was attended by almost 100 community champions and local businesses. There were 10 winners and 11 recipients of Highly Commended recognition across eight categories.

5-year-old Bohdi Peckham, winner of the Young Person of the Year, said: “I am so proud of myself. I was really shy at first going up on stage, but everyone helped me to feel better.”

Fairer World Lindfield, Highly Commended in the Environment and Climate Champion category, said: “There are so many great people and initiatives here today and it makes us feel so proud to not only be recognised but also to live in such an amazing community.”

Russell Bullen, Owner of Mad Dog Coffee and winner of the Business in the Community award, said: “The world is in such a low place right now, with so many people struggling, and it is really important for me to give back where I can.”

The full list of winners and highly commended can be found below. For more information on the Applauds Awards, please visit: https://www.midsussexapplauds.co.uk/

pictured: Lindsay and Derek Shurvell, Winners of the Community for All Award.

All winners and highly commended as follows:

Volunteer of the Year


Clare Stacey has dedicated 17 years to serving as bandmaster for Burgess Hill Marching Youth, fostering inclusivity and expanding the band's reach. Despite balancing a full-time job and family commitments, she devotes four hours weekly to band rehearsals and supporting young people with autism.

Kelvin Meek's decision to train as a Peer Mentor, drawing from his own experiences with mental health challenges, showcases his bravery and resilience. He dedicates countless volunteer hours to providing support to clients, always prioritising their well-being.

Highly Commended

Amanda Felix's extensive volunteer work, including organising fundraising events like the "Wine Tasting for Teddy" event that raised £20,000, demonstrates her unwavering dedication to various organisations.

Community Project of the Year


The Angling and Mental Health Initiative brings people together to learn about fishing, providing encouragement and support coaches for a great outdoor experience to help individuals learn fishing skills while fostering a sense of fun and community in a beautiful environment.

Highly Commended

The Burgess Hill Creative Community (BHCC), formed in June 2023, saved the Kiln from closure and established a new charity to maintain this much-loved space. Led by volunteers Jo Homan and Gail Anderson, BHCC fosters inclusivity and creativity through various activities like pottery, art, and sewing, aiming to become a permanent creative hub in Mid Sussex.

Young Hero of the Year


Bodhi Peckham's battle with leukaemia sparked the viral #pantstoleukemia campaign, raising over £20,000 for Leukaemia UK. Despite his own challenges, Bodhi's bravery and infectious sense of fun inspired his community to rally together and support a worthy cause.

Business in the Community


Mad Dog Coffee Lounge quickly established itself as a hub for community support and inclusivity, actively giving back and supporting local causes. Owner Russell Bullen donates 20% of profits to charities chosen by customers, setting a positive example for other businesses.

Highly Commended

The Mug Tree has made significant contributions to its community, from mentoring local businesses to providing essential support like supplying packed lunches for children during school holidays and is recognised as the UK’s best breast-feeding space.

The Balcombe Stores, under Gemma Lewis Tupper's management, serves as a vital space for social connection and support in the Balcombe community.

Community for All


Derek and Lindsay Shurvell's dedication as volunteers ensures the enduring success of the Emmaus Youth Club, providing invaluable social opportunities for young people. Their leadership and management are highly regarded by club members, highlighting their effective contribution to promoting diversity and inclusion.

Highly Commended

Steve Isherwood's transformation of Haywards Heath Town Football Club into a local powerhouse demonstrates commitment to community engagement and inclusivity.

The Balcombe Club serves as a vibrant hub of community life, providing excellent food, diverse social activities, and a welcoming atmosphere for all. Operated as a not-for-profit organisation by dedicated volunteers, the club's commitment to serving its members and preserving local heritage is commendable.

King’s Auto Repairs, led by Pete Williamson, provides essential assistance to individuals facing financial hardship by servicing and donating vehicles. Their collaboration with The Kings Church in Burgess Hill demonstrates a commitment to helping those in need of access to vital resources.

Environment and Climate Champion


Greener Hassocks and Ditchling's community-driven initiatives address the climate emergency through practical support and collaborative efforts, empowering residents to make a difference.

Highly Commended

Fairer World Lindfield inspires local action on the climate and ecological crisis through events, education, and advocacy, empowering residents to make sustainable choices and engage with policy change.

Community Hero of the Year


Fiona Hayward's dedication to improving the lives of those with dementia, both as Dementia Services Manager at Age UK East Grinstead and CEO of Being Neighbourly, demonstrates her commitment as a Community Hero. Her personalised approach and quick response to urgent needs make a significant difference in her community.

Highly Commended

Mark Collins's decade-long dedication to collecting for the Poppy Appeal, alongside his volunteer work at World War II re-enactments, showcases his selflessness and commitment to honouring veterans.

Lifetime Achievement Award


Margaret Taylor's decades of service to her community, from teaching to volunteering at various organisations, highlight her unwavering commitment to serving others. Her dedication to enriching the lives of others through education and community involvement is truly commendable.

Chris Ollif's outstanding contributions to the community of Horsted Keynes demonstrate his commitment to supporting village life and addressing local needs. His attention to detail and willingness to volunteer for any task, alongside his empathetic support and sense of humour, make him a valued member of the community.

Highly Commended

Helen Schofield's dedication to serving her community as Clerk to West Hoathly Parish Council and school governor at West Hoathly Primary School has left a lasting positive impact.

Tina Shea's 47 years of service as Brown Owl of the 1st Turners Hill Brownies exemplify her unwavering commitment to bringing joy to young girls in her community.