Co-op has named mother-of-four Lynnette Pryke, from Lincolnshire, the UK’s official “Neighbour Of The Year”.
The annual awards are now in their fourth year. Co-op established them to celebrate those special people who go above and beyond to support their neighbours and wider communities.
Lynnette’s story of heroism began just as the UK 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. It has arranged prescription deliveries, supported people living with dementia, and collected and delivered shopping for local residents.
The hub has also provided much needed mental health and wellbeing support.
In November 2020, Lynnette unfortunately contracted COVID-19, 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.
Volunteering for the last 31 years
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.
Lynnette was awarded the title by a panel of judges from Co-op and Neighbourhood Watch for her unwavering dedication to her neighbours and local community.
“I am so honoured and humbled to have won Neighbour of the Year,” Lynette said.
“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 planned to spend 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.”
We’re encouraging everyone to support each other
“There were so many outstanding nominations again this year and it was an extremely tough decision,” John Hayward-Cripps, CEO of Neighbourhood Watch Network, said.
“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.”