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Transforming the communities of Essex & East London through Christ’s presence

The Revd Don Smith awarded British Empire Medal for services to the community of Frinton-on-Sea.

4th Jan 2022

The Revd Don Smith, Rector of St Mary's Parish Church, Frinton-on-Sea has been awarded the British Empire Medal in the Queen's New Year's Honours List. Don's award was given for services to the community of Frinton-on-Sea during the Covid-19 Pandemic. 
 
The award recognises the work that started before the first Covid 19 lockdown began in March 2020 when Don developed a project to supply food and medical prescription supplies to all local residents who might be stranded without help, including the elderly, the infirm and those with additional needs.  This service was free to use, with recipients paying their food bill at a later date, if they were able to. 
 
Don raised funds from several local organisations and businesses so that those who could not afford to pay for their provisions would not go without basic and necessary food. 
 
The project began as soon as lockdown was announced, and covered the Tendring, Essex area of Walton-on-the-Naze, Frinton-on-Sea, Kirby le Soken, and Great Holland, some 40,000 people, many of whom are elderly residents. 
 
An emergency phone helpline was established and 30 volunteer phone operators and 40 volunteer deliverers, including Don himself, were recruited from the local community.  Over the following four months, 338 food and medical prescriptions were delivered to 129 clients.
 
This scheme was way-ahead of the need that began to arise and inspired other organisations such as the local Tendring District Council, the Rotary Club, local churches and individuals from the community to become part of the project. 
 
The Covid 19 Emergency Helpline became a vital, successful and respected project in the local area.  The Helpline continues to operate, with funds in place, should there be a further need in the months to come.

Provision of free meals during the Christmas school holidays
Don also organised a scheme to provide all eligible primary school children in the area with free lunches during the 2020 Christmas school holidays. The scheme brought together four primary schools, the local Town Council, local churches and several local businesses, to provide a meal for every eligible child, some 320 children altogether, over the eleven weekdays of the Christmas period.  
 
Don’s award also recognises more than thirty years of community work, including as a minister in London where he previously served.
 
Before ordination, Don worked to transform various retail companies. He has also acted in, produced and directed pantomimes.

Commenting on Don's award, the Bishop of Colchester, the Rt Revd Roger Morris said:

“A person with Don’s vision, energy and talents could have done many things. It is hugely commendable that he has devoted the last three decades of his life towards the church and serving his local community. The fact that he has done this so colourfully, energetically and fruitfully is certainly worthy of this honour.”

On recieving the award, the Revd Don Smith said

"I feel very honoured to be on the list and to receive a British Empire Medal, it's very encouraging.
 
"But there are a lots of people who have been involved over the past couple of years in putting together a scheme to help people who might be isolated during the pandemic."