Stevenage’s DJ Gary crowned East of England Neighbour of the Year
- Credit: Joel Chant
A Stevenage man has been crowned the East of England Neighbour of the Year for lifting the spirits of his neighbours during the coronavirus lockdown.
Gary Newton, known as DJ Gary, took to DJing for his the residents of Harvey Road where he lives during the Clap for Carers every Thursday in the first national lockdown.
The 58-year-old’s neighbour, Elaine Bronkhurst nominated him for the award. She said: “We have always been the kind of neighbours who say hello in passing, but now we actually care about each other and have developed deeper friendships and connections.
“Gary is always available for a chat and he has become the glue that holds our community together. Gary helped us develop a new family, our neighbours, which has gone from strength to strength.”
Gary’s mum sadly passed away from COVID-19, and it was so important for him to carry on with the DJing for her.
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He said: “I didn’t want to let mum or anyone else down. DJing for Harvey Road, the street where I live, gave people something to look forward to and I wanted to carry on thanking the doctors who looked after mum.
“The community is so important to me, especially when mum died. The neighbours keep on saying thank you to me, but I’m just doing it because I want to. I love making people laugh, it’s a great therapy. I’m blessed and lucky with the neighbours I’ve got.”
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The Neighbour of the Year award – run as part of Co-op Insurance and Neighbourhood Watch’s search for the UK’s best neighbour – celebrates neighbours who look out for others, are sociable and friendly, offer practical help and are kind, caring and respectful.
In its third year, the number of entries increased by 100 percent from 2019.
Ellis German, home insurance executive at Co-op Insurance said: “We’re so proud of Gary – he’s an excellent reminder that there are those on our doorsteps who need us more than ever.
“All the judges agreed that he was the worthy winner of the East of England’s Neighbour of the Year 2020 award.”
During the peak of the first national lockdown in April, data from Co-op showed a spike in neighbourliness, over three quarters – 79 per cent – of adults in the East of England said they knew which of their neighbours was classed as high risk.