‘Very best’ of Jersey honoured at awards

ISLANDERS who routinely go above and beyond to make a positive difference to the community had their time in the spotlight as the 2023 Pride of Jersey awards were presented on Wednesday night.

Hundreds gathered at Albert Bartlett’s headquarters on Trinity Hill to hail the contributions of all those nominated across 14 different categories.

One award winner was remembered tearfully and in absentia when Dean Lowe was announced as the winner of the Gary Burgess Award.

A tireless campaigner for inclusion, charity fundraiser and champion for disability, Mr Lowe (48) died tragically in August when he and his 11-year-old son Charlie were killed in a suspected hit-and-run collision in Grouville.

The award was set up in memory of journalist Gary Burgess following his death in January 2022, acknowledging Islanders who stood out as beacons of the community and for bringing people together in times of adversity.

Introducing the evening, JEP editor Andy Sibcy said the 12 months since the previous ‘Pride’ event had been punctuated by tragedy, notably the flash-flooding in January at Grands Vaux and the loss of 13 lives the previous month as the L’Ecume II fishing trawler sank at sea and an explosion destroyed the Haut du Mont apartment block.

“But even in the darkest of times, there has been a ray of light that has never been extinguished,” he told the gathering.

“That light is the community spirit which has brought people together in the face of tragedy and adversity, offering hope when things seemed to be at their most desperate.

“Community spirit is a term used a lot here in Jersey and there may be times when it seem like an abstract concept, a feeling rather than something tangible. But tonight it is in this room, and the force is stronger than ever.”

Rebecca Michieli, whose father Mick was skipper of L’Ecume II and went down with the boat, was named Volunteer/Fundraiser of the Year for starting a fundraising event to support the families of the two crewmen who also died.

Saskia Ruddy was named Child of the Year after setting up the Run 4 Kezia memorial event to remember her friend Kezia Mason, which has attracted hundreds of participants and raised tens of thousands of pounds.

Gold-medal-winning Team GB artistic gymnast Chloe Russell, who suffers with cerebral palsy and competed at the Special Olympics, received the Young Ambassador of the Year award.

Addressing all those who had been shortlisted, Mr Sibcy said: “It is an honour and a privilege to be able to celebrate you, who represent the very best of us.

“With kindness, love, resilience, courage, selflessness and much more, you have helped define what a good citizen looks like.”

Jersey Post acted as headline sponsor for the event, which was co-hosted by singer Georgi Mottram and comedian/poet John Henry Falle.

The winners

Ambassador of the Year: Peter Wright

Angel of the Year: Amy Hall

Child of the Year: Saskia Ruddy

Community Champion of the Year: Rhona Hewit

Customer Service Employee of the Year: Neal Montgomery

Diversity & Inclusion Champion of the Year: Toni Cooper

Environmentalists of the Year: Alastair Christie and the Jersey Asian Hornet Group

Grandparent of the Year: Ruth Doran

Inspirational Leader of the Year: Kirstie Ross

Mental Health Champion of the Year: Ronan Mulhern

Neighbour of the Year: Barbara Bekusch

Teacher of the Year: Heather Bugbird

Volunteer/Fundraiser of the Year: Rebecca Michieli

Young Ambassador of the Year: Chloe Russell

Gary Burgess Award: Dean Lowe

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