Great Chesterford resident to receive the British Empire Medal for service to the community during Covid-19

PUBLISHED: 14:09 16 October 2020 | UPDATED: 14:09 16 October 2020

Julie Redfern of Great Chesterford. Picture: Celia Bartlett Photography

Julie Redfern of Great Chesterford. Picture: Celia Bartlett Photography

Copyright © 2017 Celia Bartlett Photography. All rights reserved

A woman who spearheaded efforts to support her community has been awarded a prestigious British Empire Medal in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Julie Redfern helped hundreds of households in Great Chesterford and beyond during the Covid-19 pandemic, and some of that work is still continuing.

When the coronavirus lockdown was announced, the former district councillor who is also the deputy chair at Saffron Walden BID and runs Beauty Box beauty salon, drew up a list of community volunteers and set up a call centre with a volunteer rota.

An initial newsletter was distributed to 800 households, and she led pratical action which ensured everyone felt supported.

The Plough pub in Great Chesterford wanted to cook and distribute Mothering Sunday lunch.

Julie organised a group to find out who wanted a meal, and a group to deliver around 70 meals to elderly, vulnerable and shielding residents.

For Easter Sunday, Julie got the food donated, got containers from The Crown and Thistle, and got help from a friend to cook the food themselves, again for community residents.

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Julie also organised 100 cream teas delivered to people’s doors. Retired baker Chris Cole made several hundred scones. Julie got the boxes, jam, cream and strawberries donated and she organised delivery to residents.

The citation also notes that Julie kept people updated online with details about food businesses who were delivering - an essential link for those unable to leave their home - and she was the “eyes and ears of her community”, knowing everyone who needed help and being their first port of call.

Julie said receiving an email with the notification she would be awarded the BEM was a shock, and at first she thought it was a scam.

But she then learned husband Antony, who helped to set up the helpline telephone service, had been contacted to check some details.

“I can’t believe he could keep a secret,” she said.

“It is really lovely to be recognised but I’m always part of a team. You make sure you surround yourself with the right people.”

Julie said it was a “strange” feeling but she was delighted.

“I do think if there’s one positive out of what is going on it’s that it just really does bring your community together,” she said.

The medal will be presented at a later date.

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