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Medal for Sheringham aid worker

PUBLISHED: 14:30 25 June 2008 | UPDATED: 09:00 13 July 2010

A Norfolk aid worker has been given a medal by the Hungarian orphanage she has been helping for the past 12 years.

The award, to Evelyn Smith from Sheringham's Canaan Christian Centre, is the first to be given to someone outside Hungary.

By RICHARD BATSON

richard.batson@archant.co.uk

A NORTHNorfolk aid worker has been given a medal by the Hungarian orphanage she has been helping for the past 12 years.

The award to Evelyn Smith from Sheringham's Canaan Christian Centre is the first to be given to someone outside Hungary.

It comes as the centre she has created to help needy children and families marks its 30th anniversary.

Miss Smith founded Canaan as a centre for children's holidays, but then expanded its role to include families facing homelessness and domestic problems.

The link with the orphanage began as a "one-off trip to deliver Christmas presents" a dozen years ago.

But it developed into a link that has her regularly driving vans full of gifts to Koszeg, 90 minutes west of Budapest, as well as hosting youngsters back at Sheringham.

"When we first went there was not a single toy in the orphanage, nor any pencils and paper as they used chalk boards," she recalled.

Now the buildings and equipment had improved and the older youngsters were even finding work to earn pocket money.

There remained some heart-breaking stories in the orphanage, however, such as a family of eight children placed there recently after their mother was jailed for killing her latest baby because she could not cope.

But there were also stories of hope - like the special Olympics cyclist whose practice racing bike was stolen, only for Miss Smith to find one just before an aid trip and deliver it to the delighted lad who went on to win a gold medal.

During her most recent trip she was invited back to a special concert, only to find herself the star attraction when she was presented with the embossed bronze medal amid rapturous applause from the children.

"I wanted the ground to open up, but it was a proud moment," said Miss Smith, who is 65 in January, but has no intentions of retiring.

The Canaan Centre on Holt Road was open lst Saturday for its 30th anniversary celebrations including speakers, singers and fund-raising stalls for its work which is all paid for by public donations.

More information about the charity on 01263 824300.


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