VOLUNTEERS in Brightlingsea have been given well-deserved accolades at a prestigious awards ceremony.

Those who help make Brightlingsea WinterFest and Brightlingsea Lido two of the town’s top attractions were praised at this year’s Pride of Essex Awards.

The group of volunteers who organise WinterFest each February were highly commended in the Teams of Pride category.

Sarah Brown, a dedicated volunteer at Brightlingsea Lido, was highly commended in the Community Champion category.

Brightlingsea WinterFest’s co-founders Alix Sheppard and Dave Griffiths were at the awards ceremony as leaders of the volunteer team who give their time to make the annual festival such a success.

Tony Fisher, from BBC Essex, and Stuart Rawlins, a deputy lieutenant of Essex, were the presenters for the awards evening.

Outlining WinterFest’s contribution to the community Mr Fisher said: “It makes the whole town come alive with a range of activities including music, arts and crafts, comedy, film, and the spoken word.

“The festival was started five years ago to help community spirit flourish and to dispel winter gloom.

“It has since then gone from strength to strength.

“Funds raised are shared between the mental health charity Mind and a new WinterFest Wellbeing Fund which gives grants to people in the town to help them take part in activities that will improve their mental and physical health.

“WinterFest is run entirely by volunteers and to date almost £25,000 has been raised for the great causes.”

A few years ago Brightlingsea outdoor swimming pool was neglected and in danger of being closed.

But thanks to a team of volunteers, the pool was taken over and given charity status.

Sarah Brown, one of the trustees, has given at least 20 hours of voluntary time every week to keep the lido going.

Her nominator, Lizzie Merrell, said: “Sarah has so much drive and passion. She is humble, modest and works hard, receiving not a single penny.

“All of the trustees have put enormous effort into this project, but Sarah is the face we see working every day, supporting lifeguards and devoting serious hours to make sure the lido survives.”

The highly commended award for WinterFest means the festival has been given important recognition for the second time.

Last year WinterFest’s Alix Sheppard was presented with a Pride of Tendring Award.

For details about the 2020 WinterFest, visit www.brightlingseawinterfest.co.uk.