Around 200 guests attended this year’s ceremony held at Hylands House in Chelmsford, where trophies, certificates and grants totalling £32,500 were presented by the current High Sheriff of Essex, Bryan Burrough.

Open Road’s Laura Spink-Bates accepted an award of £2,200 to help run a woman-only Firebreak course for female offenders from across the County.

The Firebreak programme aims to promote a culture of safety and team work and citizenship by teaching a range of vital life skills whilst undertaking the various disciplines of the Fire Service. The course provides a learning environment that combines practical skills and scenario based training, with classroom centred theory/discussion workshops.

See: http://www.essex-fire.gov.uk/Community_Development/Firebreak/

Open Road’s grant came from the High Sheriffs’ Fund, which was established to give credit to community initiatives that address crime, community safety and anti-social behaviour, and is managed by the independent charitable trust Essex Community Foundation (ECF).

Laura said: ‘This grant will give some of our women offenders the chance to help raise their self-esteem and improve their resilience. It’s a fantastic opportunity over and above what we’d normally be able to provide.’

Bryan Burrough, the 838th High Sheriff of Essex, has travelled to all areas of the county during his year of office. As well as meeting many voluntary organisations, he visited the Courts and spent time with Essex Police, Essex County Fire and Rescue Service and the Ambulance Service. 

Bryan said, “It has been a privilege to undertake this role and I have learnt a lot during the past 12 months. During my visits to local charities and community organisations, I came to realise that many are small and are running with limited resources, powered by the sheer determination of its people, many of whom are volunteers.