Kelly Coombs has been recognised for her Community Work in the Kings New Years Honours, receiving a British Empire Medal (BEM).
Kelly Coombs works for Essex Wellbeing Service (EWS) partner organisataion RCCE as a Community Agent in the Dengie Area and also a United in Kind Coach in Chelmsford. However this medal was for the project she set up on a voluntary basis (aside from her work) during the Covid Pandemic and we wanted to recognise Kelly's achievement and record that everone at at RCCE and EWS are extremely proud of Kelly and her efforts. Kelly describes the work she did and how she feels to be recognised in such a prestigious way.
“It’s been truly heart warming and overwhelming to be recognised by His Majesty in his first New Years Honours List with the Order of the British Empire Medal. When I opened the email from the Cabinet Office, I thought it was a hoax, when I realised it was real I was in total shock as it all seemed so long ago, as back in January 2021 I had an acorn of an idea that grew into an huge tree of kindness.
We were in Covid lockdown and morale was very low amongst our wonderful local key workers. I set up a Facebook Group Dengie Kindness Group and posted on our local community facebook pages that if anyone had any spare toiletries, chocolates, biscuits, treats etc that I would like to put together Hero Hug Bags for our local NHS & Emergency Services.
The Dengie Community all pulled together & demonstrated their kindness & generosity – we had doorstep co-ordinators in every village so it was easy for people to drop off their donations. We had talented crafts people make and donate keyrings, candles, bath bombs, face masks, bookmarks, bracelets, sweets, hot chocolate stirrers, crochet and knitted hearts. Local children, schools & pre-schools all made wonderful pictures, cards and letters some are still displayed today in some windows around the Dengie."
Key Workers Supported
"A generous local farmer loaned us a farm unit for 2 months to store and sort all the donations – we called it the Hug Hub. We had wonderful volunteers that came to the hub to drop off donations and help put the hampers and bags together always adhering to the government restrictions. With the Communities Kindness we put together over 325 Bags and Hampers – they were distributed around the whole Dengie to all key workers including NHS Staff (district nursing team, GP Surgeries, Ambulance Station & Pharmacies), emergency services (Fire stations & Police Stations), Postal Workers, Care Home Workers, Pre-schools, Schools, Essential Shop Workers, Undertakers – it really boosted their moral during a very challenging time and they were overwhelmed to know that their local community had thought about them and showed them kindness."
"No donation was wasted - we did a weekly drop of treats to Broomfield Hospital Staff including scrubs that had been made by people within the local community and donation of travel size toiletries to Chelmsford Rough Sleepers and food items that were not suitable for hampers were donated to Dengie Food Pantry. In May & Oct 2021 we bought 25 Dolce Gusto Coffee Pod Machines for all the ward staff rooms with money raised by the local community."
The good work continues
Kelly tells us the Dengie Kindness Group is still running today with over 1,000 members all ready to help when needed. They recently pulled together donations for Ukraine and also when a devastating fire happened at a local petting zoo the community were wonderful in donating cages, hutches, straw, food etc.
"I honestly could not have achieved the BEM without the kindness and generosity of the Dengie Community where I am lucky to live and work. Thank you for everyone’ s continuing support"
Congratulations Kelly. We're thrilled you're one of our team and have been rightly recongised for your amazing work!