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Community award for Asbo crusader

PUBLISHED: 10:34 03 July 2009 | UPDATED: 14:18 03 July 2010

Local hero: Fred Learmonth being presented with an award by Suptintendent Jim Smerdon.

Local hero: Fred Learmonth being presented with an award by Suptintendent Jim Smerdon.

A COMMUNITY stalwart from Gorleston received an award this week to mark his crusade against anti-social behaviour and dedicated efforts to improve the environment.

A COMMUNITY stalwart from Gorleston received an award this week to mark his crusade against anti-social behaviour and dedicated efforts to improve the environment.

Fred Learmonth, of Paston Road, was presented with a special award for his work in the community by Superintendent Jim Smerdon, who described Mr Learmonth as “a legend”.

Since 2003, the 63-year-old has worked tirelessly to rid the Magdalen Estate of anti-social behaviour - encouraging neighbours to give evidence against unruly teenagers and offering youngsters the chance to turn their lives around by taking part in community projects.

Mr Learmonth, a reformed alcoholic, admitted he had been in trouble with the police when he was younger and said it was those experiences which inspired him to help others in the community.

In recent years Mr Learmonth has overcome ill health after being diagnosed with cancer and continued with his work in the community, setting up a garden project and youth club as well as organising a charity mobility scooter ride.

He is currently organising a project for bin locks in areas of Yarmouth and Gorleston - tackling waste and arson issues.

The presentation at the Novus Centre, in Yarmouth, on Tuesday was attended by representatives from both borough and county councils and Norfolk Police.

And Mr Learmonth also received a framed letter from the Home Office, supporting his work and the life-time achievement award.

Speaking at the presentation Supt Smerdon said: “Fred has made a real difference. He has an army of dedicated volunteers whose focus has always been in making the area a better place to live.”

Accepting the award a tearful Mr Learmonth said: “Without all these people behind me I would not be here now. I'm gobsmacked to receive this award.”

In helping secure anti-social-behaviour orders (ASBO) for troublesome youths on the Magdalen Estate, Mr Learmonth often made himself a target, but refused to give up his crusade.

He began his crusade after becoming a tenant representative. He said: “I was never one for meetings, sitting round a table. I preferred being out on the street.”

Residents felt so intimidated that that one woman regularly used to cook dinner by torchlight so the gang of youths did not know she was at home, he said.

Mr Learmonth said he often sees former troublemakers on the street who now stop and speak. “I'm pleased they haven't followed the path I took and I think they now appreciate the work I did.”

In recent years Mr Learmonth has also received awards from the Norfolk Waste Management Partnership and the Taking A Stand award from the Home Office.

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