These are his personal awards that recognise some of the remarkable people, and their organisations, who have been outstanding in their service to our communities during his year of office.
Dr Fooks’ awards reflect the breadth of his interests and his activity as he has carried out his role, an appointment by the Queen to uphold and support the judiciary, police and other emergency services and the voluntary sector.
Recipients include those whose work has been instrumental in alleviating the loneliness and isolation of the most vulnerable, whereas others, such as Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service, are being acknowledged for their exceptional achievements that allowed our courts to continue to function during the height of the pandemic’s restrictions.
Normally, the awards would be presented at a ceremony but as this was still not possible, due to restrictions, the High Sheriff has travelled around the county in order to present his awards in person.
Dr Fooks said: “This has been a uniquely challenging year for us all, but it has been my privilege as High Sheriff to have been able to observe countless acts of kindness and exceptional service in response to the difficulties the pandemic has brought upon us.
“One of the many highlights of my year was the introduction of the Special Recognition Volunteer Award, where the 110 recipients were nominated by those who had benefited from their care and service during the first lock-down.
“However, the High Sheriff Awards now enable me to acknowledge, in the public domain, some of the many organisations and charities whose achievements have particularly impressed me during the year.
“As such, it gives me particular pleasure to use this opportunity to present an award to the journalists working for JPIMedia in West Sussex, who have ensured we have been kept so well-informed throughout the long periods of confusion and rapid change. It is absolutely right that central government has recognised them as key workers within our communities.
“Although each of my award winners has achieved something remarkable, I also want to take this opportunity to express my admiration and gratitude for all those who have served West Sussex during this very difficult year.
“They have all demonstrated a new depth and dimension to public service which will remain a testament to the resilience and compassion of our county, and its communities, for years to come.”
Jo Clarke, director of partnerships and localities at Age UK West Sussex Brighton & Hove, accepted the award in recognition of the charity’s work to alleviate loneliness through initiatives such telephone befriending and its older people’s network in Worthing and Adur.
Crawley Community Action, Horsham District Voluntary Sector Support, Mid-Sussex Voluntary Action and Voluntary Action Arun and Chichester each received the award for the essential role they played throughout the year to support the voluntary sector in their area and, in particular, their loneliness initiatives.
Marilyn Le Feuvre, chairman, accepted the award for DiverseCrawley, in recognition of its outstanding Black History Month exhibition at Crawley Museum and its ongoing work to celebrate and promote diversity in the community.
Martin Auton-Lloyd, chief executive, and Alyson Heath, chairman of trustees, were presented with the award for Family Support Work in recognition of its efforts to maintain the provision of practical advice and emotional support to vulnerable and isolated families throughout the prolonged periods of lockdown.
HM Courts and Tribunals Service received the award for its outstanding work to ensure the crown and magistrates courts remained operational during the pandemic.
Mark Whaley, chief executive of Making It Out, accepted the award in recognition the charity’s work with ex-offenders to enable them to learn new creative skills within a supportive and compassionate community.
Dr Guy Mitchell accepted the award on behalf of Pulborough Medical Group, in recognition of its outstanding work as a local GP practice to maintain its medical services and lead on the vaccination programme, despite facing many additional challenges.
Spurgeons children’s charity received the award for its family services work at HMP Lewes and HMP Ford, providing emotional and practical support to prison residents and ensuring they could remain connected with their families during the pandemic.
The Rev Steve Burston at St John’s Church in Crawley was presented with the award for its many social action initiatives within Crawley and for the key role the church played in establishing a food bank in the town centre.
Chris Cook, chief executive, accepted the award for Sussex Clubs for Young People, in recognition of the charity’s focus on loneliness in young people by maintaining its clubs across Sussex throughout the pandemic and for the increased service in rural areas through the use of its Purple Bus.
Det Supt Rachel Carr, Sussex Police’s thematic lead for the Specials, was presented with the award in recognition of the dedication and commitment of the volunteers serving in the Special Constabulary, which has increased the size of its force and played an active role to support Sussex Police throughout the pandemic.
Darren Greenaway, chairman and trustee, accepted the award for The Greenaway Foundation in recognition of its tremendous effort to ensure 500 vulnerable families in the Crawley area received a festive meal and gifts at Christmas.
Caz Evans, digital participation lead, accepted the award on behalf of West Sussex Youth Cabinet, in recognition of its extensive list of campaigns, including knife crime and racism in schools.
The cabinet was a runner-up at this year’s National Crimebeat Awards and is recognised to be one of the most supported and active Youth Cabinets in the UK.
Dr Fooks has now come to the end of his service and the new High Sheriff of West Sussex, Mr Neil Hart, a retired solicitor who has worked across the county, will begin his year of office tomorrow, April 30, with the Declaration Ceremony in Easebourne.
Look out for a feature in next week’s paper, introducing Mr Hart and talking about his theme for the year.