Lynnette Pryke's story of of heroism began just as the country was plunged into lockdown last March.
Feeling compelled to act quickly, she set up a support network called Alford Hub to bring together her remote rural Lincolnshire community.
Since then, Alford Hub has dealt with a staggering 49,000 appeals for help from local people in all manner of ways, including arranging prescription deliveries and supporting people living with dementia. The Covid isolation team collects and delivers shopping for local residents. The hub also provides much needed mental health and wellbeing support.
In November 2020 Lynnette sadly contracted Covid herself but was so committed to carrying on the invaluable work of the hub that she continued running it from her hospital bed. She is now being treated for long Covid and needs oxygen every day.
Lynnette, who has just become a grandmother for the first time, has been volunteering for the last 31 years. Five years ago, Lynnette had a stroke which has affected one side of her body. Despite her own health challenges, she continues to successfully grow the hub, bringing new services and support to the community.
The research which led to the award was carried out as part of Co-op Insurance and Neighbourhood Watch’s Neighbour of the Year Awards.
Now in their fourth year, they were established to celebrate those special people who go above and beyond to support their neighbours and wider communities.
On receiving her award, Lynnette said: “I am so honoured and humbled to have won Neighbour of the Year.
"To me, community means everything. Last Christmas, the hub delivered shopping and Christmas presents to people in Alford who we knew would be alone. I bought one lovely gentleman a pair of socks and delivered Christmas dinner.
"He was supposed to be spending Christmas with his family but lockdown sadly put a stop to that. I received the kindest message from his son thanking us for the care we’d shown his father.
"That’s what this is all about. Helping others. I’d like to thank all the wonderful volunteers who have helped make Alford Hub what it is today.”
John Hayward-Cripps, CEO of Neighbourhood Watch Network and a judge this year, said: “There were so many outstanding nominations again this year and it was an extremely tough decision but Lynnette’s tireless work, even in the face of her own health challenges, really stood out. What’s clear is that there are many selfless people carrying out the most extraordinary acts of kindness across the UK and her award is to celebrate all of the unsung heroes that we don’t get to hear about.”
“Alongside Co-op Insurance, we’re encouraging everyone to support each other and look out for their neighbours at Christmas and over the winter months, especially those who may be elderly, vulnerable or isolating. Small gestures, like a quick phone call, can mean so much to people.”
Hannah Ingram-Moore, said: “Neighbour of the Year is such an important project to be involved in. The difficult times we’ve all gone through recently has truly brought out the best in people’s human nature and I was astonished at just how much Lynnette has done for others. She is a very worthy winner and her contribution to her local community will have improved the lives of so many people. It’s an honour to crown her Neighbour of the Year 2021!”