Do you know someone who has gone the extra mile during the pandemic?

We asked you to tell us about north Essex’s Covid heroes.

Here are some more of the nominations we received - all kind, selfless, and inspirational people.

Feel free to nominate your community champion using the link at the bottom of the story.

JESSICA Thompson Smith has been described as having a heart of gold for her tireless charity work, having set up a group called Helping Kids in Colchester.

She wanted to do something to ensure children did not go without a present at Christmas.

Jessica managed to get together donations for hundreds of new gifts and get them all wrapped and out to families in need.

She also organised food parcels and her efforts are still continuing.

Jessica is always is putting others before herself, has a heart of gold and is always looking for ways she can help other people.

For more information, see her Facebook page at

Gazette: Jessica Thompson Smith Jessica Thompson Smith

BRIAN Simon has been nominated as one of our community champions.

Mr Simon spent 22 years serving in the British Army, 2nd Royal Anglian Regiment.

He has since given a further 33 years to the Royal British Legion, raising money every year for the Poppy Appeal.

Despite the challenges of the pandemic, last year was no exception and he had a collecting tin and table of poppies outside his home.

Mr Simon also leads the standard bearers down Colchester High Street to the memorial for the annual Service of Remembrance.

For many years, he did so much welfare work, organising support for veterans and widows, making sure they had access to food, heating and funds.

For the last few years, Mr Simon has been a volunteer driver for the charity Community 360.

In ‘normal’ times, he drives the elderly and vulnerable to hospital or doctor’s appointments, or to supermarkets and shops.

In the pandemic, he has continued his work for this charity, collecting and delivering prescriptions to people’s doors, ensuring they receive vital medications.

Now he is a volunteer at Colchester Hospital, marshalling in the car park as people come for their vaccinations.

Mr Simon is 73 and married to Margaret.

He has a daughter, Ali, and three grandchildren, Alexander, 20, Robbie, 16, and Gabriella, 13.

Gazette: Brian SimonBrian Simon

CLARE Hanney has been nominated for her tireless work at Autism Anglia.

The charity provides education, services and facilities that encourage autistic children and adults to live a rich and fulfilling life.

Clare is the area manager in north Essex for Autism Anglia’s adult services.

She has approached the issues caused by the pandemic with passion and dedication in ensuring the people the charity supports and its staff have had the best opportunities to stay safe during the Covid pandemic.

Thoughtful, caring and leading her teams through difficult times without falter, she always goes the extra mile in supporting everyone.

Recently, when a family that was being supported by Autism Anglia were struggling to gain online access to join important care planning meetings for their daughter, she visited their home and set everything up for them.

This ensured they did not miss out on the vital support they needed as parents of a child with autism.

Gazette: Clare HanneyClare Hanney


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