PILLAR of the community Patricia Heard was highly commended at the Pride of Essex Awards.

Patricia, of Tollesbury Road, Tolleshunt D’Arcy, was one of the 35 outstanding individuals nominated for awards at the ceremony.

She received a cheque for £250 after being highly commended in the unsung hero category.

She will donate half to the village hall fund and half to Tolleshunt D’Arcy Toddler Group which she has run for 30 years, providing a vital service to parents in the village.

Patricia said: “I am humbled and grateful for this wonderful award as I am only doing the things I love doing and to see the village thrive.

“The work we are doing to raise the £750,000 needed for the new village hall is bringing the community together with more people attending our fundraising events and more people realising the value of having a thriving village hall at the centre of our community.

“For me to get recognition for the work I do can only help us get the money needed for a wonderful new village hall.”

The 60-year-old mum-of-two and grandmother was nominated for a Pride of Britain Award by toddler group co-worker Katie Loman.

At the age of 14, Patricia joined the bingo committee at the local pub to ensure that the views of young people in the village were heard.

She later became a member of the village hall committee as a representative of the youth club.

She is now an active member of the community fundraising group and the grant funding group, which have raised nearly £30,000 of their £750,000 target for a new village hall.