Ely Hero finalists: from left Tristan Gordon, Jack James, Bert Russell (winner) and representative of sponsor MetroRod Cambridge.
Ely Hero finalists: from left Tristan Gordon, Jack James, Bert Russell (winner) and representative of sponsor MetroRod Cambridge.

150 excited guests gathered for the very first Ely Hero Awards Ceremony on Monday at the Maltings in Ely for what has been described as the area’s version of the “Pride of Britain Awards”. With laughter, tears and a standing ovation - what a night to remember...

It was quite literally third time lucky for Bert, from Little Thetford, who was nominated and shortlisted in two earlier categories: Community Champion and Neighbour of the Year without success. Those nominating Bert described him as an “integral part of life in Little Thetford for most of his 90 years.” He ensures the village is always looking its best by clearing overgrown bushes, planting flowers, and picking up litter as well as keeping the weeds under control. He has also proved a good neighbour by helping with dog walking and even house decorating and rns regular fundraising bingo nights. The person nominating him said: “Bert’s kind deeds are woven into the fabric of our community. His zeal for his community remains as strong as ever. What makes Bert remarkable is that he never needs to be asked.”


Neighbour of the Year: From left Bridget Hickish representing sponsor Elyi with Bert Russell and Jo Evans (winner).


Ely Hero Awards launched in April and were organised by local drain care company Metro Rod (Cambridge) in conjunction with the Ely Standard. Nominations flooded in for all 10 of the categories keeping virtual assistant Sadie Finch on her toes keeping them in order and making the judges job extremely difficult. Naomi Sherwood, business development manager at Metro Rod, was the main organiser, and she was overwhelmed by the number of nominations and the enormous support shown by the community of East Cambridgeshire in wanting to recognise the area’s special people. Monday night’s ceremony, which included live entertainment and a buffet meal, had a real excited buzz to it as Ely mayor Councillor Richard Hobbs read out the nominees before the sponsors annouced the winners and presented the awards.


Best Teacher: Christine Fadipe (Ely College), Christina Emmess (Witchford Village College), Charlotte Leaver (winner) (Lantern School), Tom Russell (Downham Feoffees) with representative from sponor Thorlabs.


One guest said: “I feel so humbled to be here tonight, thank you so much for allowing little old me to be a part of this!” There was a lot of laughter, and not a dry eye in the house during some of the award presentations and at the end a standing ovation for THE Ely Hero, Bert who is a tremendous example of true altruism, dedicating his life to help his community became the first worthy winner. Naomi said: “The evening had at its heart and at its foundation such immense positivity, it gave all of our finalists the chance to have the recognition they deserve for all the truly inspirational things they achieve. The great deeds of individuals in our city are overwhelming. Everyone should be so proud of themselves. I am genuinely overwhelmed and humbled at the success and would like to pass on a huge “thank you” to everyone that has been involved in every capacity. I am very pleased to announce that we will be bringing Ely Hero Awards back again in 2018. Congratulations to all of our worthy finalists and winners.” All the stories behind the nominations were amazing but there were one or two that truly stood out including how teenager Tristan Gordon saved his father Spencer’s life by administering CPR when he was knocked unconscious during an epileptic fit and stopped breathing.


Ely Hero nominee Tristan Gordon with his dad Spencer. Tristan saved his dad's life after he got knocked unconscious during and epileptic fit and stopped breathing.


Amazing professional nominee beautician Sophie Davison had a real surprise when she found herself sat next to paramedic Dan Reed, who was also nominated and was eventually named category winner. Dan had saved Sophie’s life after a traumatic accident last year. “I just can’t believe he is here. I would have nominated him myself but I didn’t know where he lived. I’m delighted that I can say thank-you for saving my life,” said Sophie.


Smiliest Server: from left Roxy Wesbster, Jo Pearson, Shelley Davies-Bloss (winner) with Sarah Cliss of Ely Standard.  

Ely Hero Awards organiser Naomi Sherwood with the leader of East Cambs District Council Cllr Peter Cresswell and his wife.

Child of Achievement winner Jorja Furze with mayor Cllr Richard Hobbs.

 Child of Achievement: From left: Ben Collier, Noah McGeough, Jorja Furze (winner) and Lynden Long with representatives from joint sponsors: Puggles and Seahorse Swim Schools.

Caring companion: From left: Wendy Halls, Sule Salim and Shellie Jackson with representative from sponsor the CHS Group. Winner Matthew George was unable to attend the ceremony.

Ely Hero Bert Russell with his award.

All the category finalists deserve recognition:


Child of Achievement: Jorja Furze (winner); Lynden Long; Noah McGeough and Ben Collier.

Judges said: “Jorja is probably unaware of the huge and special impact she has on everyone around her.”


Best Teacher: Charlotte Leaver (winner); Tom Russell; Christina Emmes; Christine Fadipe.

Judges said: “This year the title goes to Charlotte Leaver from the Lantern School for touching the lives of everyone she teaches.”


Smiliest Server: Shelley Davies-Bloss (winner); Jo Pearson; Roxy Webster.

Judges said: “She provides a valuable service which goes above and beyond her job description of Post Office manager.”


Neighbour of the Year: Jo Evans (winner); Bert Russell.

Judges said: “She has literally devoted all her time and energy to supporting her neighbour for months.”


Best Parent: Sonia Taylor (winner); Sue Smith.

Judges said: “Sonia has not only raised her own children single handedly but at the same time has become a parent to other children in need.”


Most Amazing Professional: Dan Read (winner); Sophie Davison; Nicola Riley.

Judges said: “The work Dan does make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up!”


Sporting Hero: Nigel Smith (winner); Alex Watson; Jack James.

Judges said: “His enthusiasm is genuine and a pleasure to him personally this is altruism supreme!”


Community Champion: Hayley Mason (winner); Bert Russell; Zoe Davidson.

Judges said: “It is clear not only from the number of nominations Hayley received – but also from the passion voiced by those who nominated her – she is an inspiration.”


Caring Companion: Matthew George (winner); Wendy Halls; Shelley Jackson Sule Salim.

Judges said: “To give up your own interests to look after your loved one 24/7 is something not every person could do.”


The Ely Hero: Bert Russell (winner); Tristan Gordon; Jack James.

Judges said: “Bert has never sought praise, never needed to be asked and is incredibly humble - if every village had a “Bert” the world would be a better place, he is our Ely Hero!”