Lions Awards

Five people who have made a significant contribution to the community in Lowestoft were presented with special recognition awards at a dinner to honour their work.

To recognise the 100th Anniversary of Lions International, Lowestoft Lions Club were invited to nominate five people who had made a significant contribution to the town.

The overall winner of the Lions International Centennial Trophy was Tessa Hardy for her work over 50 years for Riding for the Disabled in Lowestoft. Four certificates signed by Lions patron Sophie Duchess of Wessex were also presented to Pam Podd for services to Gisleham village; to Colin Stephenson for 46 years involvement with Lowestoft Amateur Boxing Club; to John Pawsey for his work with the growth of Waveney Gymnastics Club; also to Matt Stebbings for his leadership to ensure the continuation of the Christmas Swim in Lowestoft.

Lowestoft Lions president Michael Cook said “Each of the nominations was very worthy and our members found it very hard to decide who would receive the top award. The recipients were invited to our Christmas dinner along with members and guests and keenly listened as testimonials were read out before the presentations were made. It was a wonderful occasion and we were pleased to be able to recognise deserving contributions to the community in our town.”


The nominees were: –

L to R Matt Stebbings – Pam Podd – Lion Ivan Gilbert – Tess Hardy – Lion Michael Cook – Colin Stevenson – Lion Glyn Page – John Pawsey – Lion Gerry Moore


Pam Podd – has worked tirelessly in village of Gisleham. She served Gisleham Middle School as a School Governor for 35 years and was chairman of Governors for over 20 years. She has also served as a Gisleham parish councillor for 40 years as well as a member of Gisleham Church Parochial Council. She was a former member and trustee of Waveney Hospice Care raising many thousands of pounds for the Hospice through Hangar Dances at Ellough and a Ride and Drive event on Benacre estate.

Colin Stephenson – has been involved with Lowestoft Amateur Boxing Club for 46 years. Colin began boxing at the age of 17 and continued until he was 29 years old winning numerous local championships in both in light-heavy and heavyweight division.

At the age of 30 he took over as coach, a role he has continued to do for 34 years. Colin was the driving force in moving from the original gym and subsequently buying their current premises – which is a massive achievement. He has given the young people of Lowestoft the opportunity to take part in a sport that not only teaches you how to box and get fit but also to respect the opponent in the ring.

John Pawsey – formed Waveney Gymnastics Club in 1976 at the Harris Middle School before the Club moved to Benjamin Britten High School in the early eighties. John then had the vision of creating a purpose built gymnastics facility. After a lot of negotiating and fundraising, building work started in 2002. The finished Gymnastics Centre cost £1.4 million and was officially opened in 2003. Through his dedication John has inspired many thousands of youngsters into sport and has put gymnastics in Lowestoft on the map.

Matt Stebbings – four years ago it was announced that, despite being a long established event, there would be no Christmas swim that year. Matt decided to step in and got Sentinel Leisure Trust on board along with the Lions and a few other people to take it on.

If it had not been for Matt’s drive and determination there would be no Christmas Swim in Lowestoft and local charities would be the poorer. Matt always insists that the ‘Swim’ is a team effort – but it takes an individual to inspire and lead a team to make the event a success.

Tessa Hardy MBE – Tessa formed Pakefield Riding School in 1946 with her father. 50 years ago in 1968 she established Riding for the Disabled (RDA) in Lowestoft and has worked tirelessly for the organisation. In 2017 Lowestoft Lions got involved and bought the Tessa a cob, which has been an excellent horse for the disabled. Since then she has gained another cob through separate fundraising and recently the equestrian hall and viewing area has been re-vamped and decorated. Tess was awarded the MBE for her work for Riding for the Disabled and she also carried the Olympic torch in her hometown. It is through Tessa’s hard work that disabled people have such excellent facilities and she is a credit to Lowestoft.