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ZSEA Community Champions 2020

After a month-long online call out, which saw dozens of individuals nominated by friends and neighbours for services to their local area, we’re proud to announce the winners of the 2020 ZSEA Community Champion Awards.

The winners are…

Joint Animal/Wildlife Champions

Riley Cooke, Attleborough, aged 8

Riley made two ponds for some frogs he noticed hopping around the garden during lockdown. Alongside this he made a bug hotel, hedgehog home, and an ant’s nest in a log. He also set up bird feeders and planted flowers to attract pollinators. During the summer Riley also took part in fundraising for Banham Zoo by biking over 100 miles over three days and raised £630.

Speaking about his award, Riley said “I am very surprised and excited that I’ve won the competition! Wildlife is important to me because I love and care so much about animals and nature. Wildlife helps people and it’s important that we all look after it. Everywhere would be boring if we didn’t have amazing animals and plants to look at.”

Molly Smith, Lincolnshire

Molly volunteers two days a week at a local exotic pet refuge alongside her studies at university. Molly is also a young carer to her two disabled brothers at home.

Speaking about her award, Molly said: “Thank you for the ZSEA Animal and Wildlife Champion Award 2020 and selecting me for all my volunteering work at the Exotic Pet Refuge I perform around my studies and care role at home. I am overwhelmed and amazed winning an annual pass I can’t wait to visit Banham Zoo and return to Africa Alive in the near future!”


Environmental Champion

David Boyle

David coordinates and participates in his weekly village clean-up, which includes keeping pathways and hedgerows clear of rubbish, trimming overgrown areas and keeping walkways safe. As David is already a frequent visitor to Banham Zoo and Africa Alive with an annual pass, he asked the ZSEA team to donate his prize to somebody else.


Adult Creative Fundraising Champion

Emma Louise Barley, Norwich

Diagnosed with lymphoma in December 2019 at the age of 23, Emma Louise has spent the last year undergoing various tests, treatments and scans. Lockdown meant that Emma had to attend treatment alone and she was unable to see her boyfriend, as he is a key worker.

Emma set up a charity Facebook page called “Spread a Smile”, where she linked with local businesses to host fundraising virtual events including bingo, raffles and auctions. Emma also walked 26 miles with her housemate to raise money for charity. On top of this she also held a Macmillan coffee morning in the pouring rain! Emma has so far raised over £2600 for various cancer charities.

Emma said: “I am truly blown away by your kindness and consideration of me for this award! I didn’t expect anything like this, my only goal was to be able to give back to the charities which have supported me this past year so that they can help others the same way they have supported me. Everyone should be able to access the help, support and kindness that I have during such a tricky time. Thank you to the person who nominated me and to you all for choosing me! I look forward visiting the zoo with friends and family throughout the year.”


Young Joint Creative Fundraising Champions

Connor Root, Harleston, 6 years old

Connor Root raised an incredible £8,000 for ZSEA this summer, cycling 100 miles in total.

Speaking about his award, Connor said: “I feel really good for winning this award, I love the zoo because it helps endangered animals. Sam eagle is my favourite and I like the Kookaburra too. The zoo is my favourite place to visit, it makes me very happy.”

Toby Griffiths, Norwich, 10 years old

During the summer Toby ran two and a half miles every day so he could complete a marathon in time for his birthday. In total he raised £1240 for the NHS.

Toby said: “I was amazed to win this; I didn’t even know anyone had nominated me. I felt that raising money for such an important charity was a way I could help.”


Young Creative Fundraising Champion – Runners Up

Ethan Chapman, Norwich, 8 years old

In the summer Ethan did a tri-challenge, which consisted of a 2.6 mile bike ride, a 2.6 mile walk and a 26 minute-long skip – all within 48 hours. He raised £545 for Norfolk and Norwich Hospitals Charity. Ethan has since been awarded a Young Charity Champion award from the charity and been featured in the Eastern Daily Press.

Ethan said: “I am so happy I got this award, it’s a big achievement and a great prize. I think fundraising is really good, this pandemic has made me want to help people and I felt glad to be able to help the NHS when they were struggling. I was inspired by Captain Tom, if he could do it at his age it made me want to do something as well.”

Zac George, Lowestoft, 5 years old

Zac learned to ride his bike without stabilisers in just a week. He then rode 102 miles (within his daily exercise) in just a month to raise money for charity. Zac wanted to raise money for the doctors, so he raised almost £500 for the NHS.

Speaking about his award, Zac said: “Wow, I can’t believe it. I’m really happy I raised so much money for the doctors, I love riding my bike and had so much fun doing it.”

Cheryl George, Zac’s mum, added: “After setting himself a target of 25 miles, Zac finished on a whopping 102.7 – with the money raised going up even after the month had finished.

As a family this kept us active on our hours exercise during lockdown and really helped keep our spirits up, waving to friends and family on our way past whilst raising money for those who were helping us.”


Adult Volunteer Champion

Elaine Easthope, Attleborough

Elaine has supported local families in need of food with donations from other people and local businesses. She has managed to give away almost 200 packed lunches to school children who would have normally received school meals. During lockdown Elaine also held several large charity raffles, bought PPE for local care homes, and donated the surplus to the zoo. Elaine was a Beaver Leader when her children were younger and is now a member of the Attleborough carnival committee.

Elaine said: “Winning this is an amazing thing, i didn’t know i had been nominated. I’ve just tried to help as many people as i can during lockdown with the help of my friend Sarah, and our Facebook page ‘a little more kindness’. We have raised lots of money, bought PPE, helped local business, care homes and a nursery. We donated to the zoo by having a mask tree outside my house with all money going to the zoo.”


Young Volunteer Champion

Lily Lancaster, Attleborough, 13 years old

Lily has been using her own pocket money to buy over 500 bags of sweets to give out to less fortunate children. She also wrapped up and gave out 230 selection boxes in her local town over Christmas.

“I never wanted any recognition for what I have done and I am so overwhelmed to have won this award. All I ever wanted was to bring joy to the community and I’ve always said if I can make one person smile a day, that’s what makes me happy.”


Supporting Older Vulnerable People Champion

Gareth Brenland, Ipswich

Gareth is founder of the ‘Bus Shelter’ in Ipswich, which provides local rough sleepers with a warm, dry and safe environment to sleep in and hot food. During lockdown, the shelter was unable to take people in, so Gareth diversified and send out food parcels alongside outreach work in the street.


Supporting Younger People Champion

Sindy-Marie Wright, Diss

Sindy worked at a mental health hospital through lockdown to support those with mental health issues and learning disabilities. Sindy has a young child at home and worked extra hours on numerous occasions.

Sindy-Marie said: “I am overwhelmed to hear from my colleague and friend that I have been chosen as the winner for the ZSEA Supporting Vulnerable People Award 2020.

This means a great deal to myself, my family and friends as we all work in one form or another in the social care environment which can be very demanding even without the current pandemic. It is really very kind for all workers to be supported and recognised.

Receiving the free annual pass to the zoo is amazing as myself and my siblings having been going there as children for many, many years and now I have my own child I will be taking her there and making and sharing memories”


Community Wellbeing Champion

Nick Fulcher, Diss

Mental health is a cause very close to Nick’s heart and he has been working very hard to try and set up a mental health & community hub in Diss. Nick is incredibly passionate about mental health and wants to ensure everyone is able to have access to the right care.

On receiving his award, Nick said: “I’m very surprised to have been nominated for this award. Although the mental health & community hub isn’t set up yet, I’ve been in talks with local organisations to review what this may look like. I want to be able to make a real difference for everyone suffering with mental health and learning disabilities, including the elderly and those sat at home with no one to talk to. I want to ensure that everyone has the right access to the care they need and not have to wait months to receive the support they deserve.”


Physical Health Champion

Amy Bobbins, Roydon

Amy has done so much to keep everyone both physically and mentally active throughout the past year. Despite challenges faced due to social distancing and restrictions on group exercise, Amy was always looking for new ways to ensure the local community could still have access to complete workouts and always delivered them with a smile on her face! She delivered her classes to all age groups, including moving her class at Lime’s Care Home online, so that the participants there could still access the class through Zoom!

On receiving the award, Amy said: “I am absolutely shocked and delighted to have won this award. Before Covid we used to visit the zoo very often, the children and I are really looking forward to forward to getting back there soon.”


Learning Champion

Kirsty Johnson, Thetford

Kirsty has continued to teach at a primary school throughout this past year despite coping with her own health issues and her partner’s cancer treatment. Between working hard at the school and maintaining a brilliant work ethic she has also been back and forwards to hospital appointments for her partner.

Kirsty said: “It is amazing to be able to pass on your strength and knowledge and inspire our next generation.  The tickets will mean I can spend the same valuable time with my family in an exciting, inspiring place.”


Learning Champion – Runner Up

Harry Read, Lowestoft

Over the Christmas period, Harry fundraised along with his mum to be able to give 360 Christmas crackers and 360 small gifts to make all of his friends smile. He wanted all of his friends to have the best Christmas lunch day at school on 16th December and went above and beyond to make sure they did so!

On receiving the award, Harry said: “Wow that is great. I’m so excited to be a winner, yay. I like to fundraise to help make others smile and be happy.”


Covid-19 Response Champion

Anne-Marie Elliott, Carlton Colville

At the start of the first lockdown, Anne-Marie helped those who are shielding and those with young children. She went out daily and did shopping for families. She also provided food boxes for families. She identified a vulnerable gentleman who was suffering with neglect and was malnourished. She rallied a team around to help him each day with furnishings, food, medication etc and phoned for ambulances when needed. She has continued to support others, despite her own mental health suffered.

Anne-Marie said: ““Thank you so much to those who nominated me and to yourselves for choosing me. We often visit both Africa Alive and Banham and I am overwhelmed to receive an annual pass.”

Congratulations to all our winners and runners up! Thank you to everyone who nominated. Keep an eye on this page for updates on the ZSEA Community Champion Awards for 2021!
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