Five local heroes have been recognised today for their work in the community during the lockdown period. Laura Clifton, John and Julia Griffiths, Daniel Pendlebury and Sarah Lees were all nominated for a Northwich Hero Award, as part of a search organised by Barons Quay and the Northwich BID.

The Northwich Heroes initiative is part of Baron Quay’s Project Happy and aimed to bring positivity to the town during this difficult time. Last month, organisers asked members of the public to nominate local people who helped them during the crisis, so that they could be recognised with a special award.

Laura Clifton from Davenham, who set up the Tiny Steps charity in 2019 to help parents who have children with additional needs, was nominated for keeping families in touch during lockdown. Parents praised her for continuing her valuable support for SEN children and their families during the pandemic and making sure that they did not feel isolated when schools and support groups closed.

Father and daughter John and Julia Griffiths who own long-established Northwich family business, John Griffiths Fruit Shop on Witton Street were also nominated by many people in the community. They both worked tirelessly throughout lockdown, sometimes working from 5am until midnight to make sure that fruit and vegetable boxes were delivered to those most vulnerable in the town who were struggling to get out during the crisis.

Joint founder of Helping Hands (Northwich in Need) Daniel Pendlebury, was highlighted as a local hero for his work in setting up the Northwich Isolation Group when lockdown started in March. With the help of his team leaders and volunteers Daniel was able to set-up a website and community helpline within 48 hours of the restrictions being announced to ensure that homeless and vulnerable people would continue to receive the support they needed.  Over 400 families have been helped by the group during the coronavirus outbreak.

Sarah Lees a teaching assistant at The Russett School in Weaverham, was nominated by a number of people in the village for the help and support she provided to parents who were taking on homeschooling as well as working from home during lockdown! When the government closed schools on the 20th March, Sarah created a work box for local children in Weaverham,  providing worksheets and craft activities for around 20 children daily! She even provided resources such as glue sticks, scissors, handwriting pens and pencils and resources for crafts such as googly eyes, pom poms and stickers! 

The judges; Barons Quay Centre Manager Lina Higuita, Northwich BID Manager Jane Hough and Councillor Sam Naylor from Cheshire West and Chester Council looked at over 70 nominations before shortlisting the five winners.

Each Northwich Hero received a certificate and £100 shopping voucher.  They will also see their name included in the new Project Happy artwork at Barons Quay, due to be painted by artist Emma Evans this month.

Lina Higuita, Barons Quay Centre Manager said: “The coronavirus outbreak and lockdown period was extremely difficult for some people, but via our Northwich Heroes initiative we are trying to look for the positive stories in our community. These five local people represent the good work that was going on behind the scenes and I’m proud that Barons Quay is involved in rewarding them and saying thanks.”

Northwich BID Manager Jane Hough said: “It’s been moving to hear all of the stories of hard-work, determination and community spirit that have been taking place in and around Northwich since the beginning of the pandemic and the BID has loved being a part of an initiative that has helped shine a spotlight on this.

“The five nominees have really gone above and beyond and it’s great to see them recognised in this way.”

Councillor Richard Beacham, Cabinet Member for Housing, Regeneration and Growth, said: “Lots of people went out of their way to help people during lockdown, but it is a real honour to pay tribute to these five local heroes who have gone the extra mile during the past few months, to support the most vulnerable within our communities.  

“Laura, John, Julia, Daniel and Sarah embody the true community spirit that exists within Northwich and I would like to commend them personally, and on behalf of Cheshire West and Chester Council, for their dedication and commitment to others during what has been, and still is, a very challenging time.”