Liz Mather, 70, has been crowned the North East’s Neighbours of the Year 2020, as part of Co-op Insurance and Neighbourhood Watch’s search for the UK’s best neighbours.

Liz gives vital support to the Sunniside Community Association, as well as the local community centre. Thanks to her fundraising efforts, Liz has helped raise £30,000 to fund a brand-new play area for local children and families in the village to enjoy.


Liz’s neighbour, Kay Wright, who nominated her for the award, said: Liz has gone above and beyond, and anyone in our village would say the same. Liz is the embodiment of a good neighbour, she is just so lovely and you can have a great laugh with her. She came here to enjoy retirement, but being Liz, she can't sit still. She will do anything for anyone, she is one tough cookie who deserves to be crowned Neighbour of the Year.”


Liz Mather, North East, Neighbour of the Year, said:Sunniside is an ex coal mining village in County Durham and suffers from many of the problems that effect rural areas. Sunniside Community Centre is at the heart of the village and my recent project of a installing a new play area has brought families together. I love Sunniside - it’s a working village but there are always people walking their dogs ready to say hello and stop for a friendly chat.  I’m so thrilled that our village is being recognised as its full of brilliant people.”


The Neighbour of the Year award 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 a staggering 100 percent from 2019.


Ellis German, Home Insurance Executive at Co-op Insurance said: “We’re so proud of Liz – she’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 North East Neighbour of the Year 2020 award.”

This year the awards are being back by actress Catherine Tyldesley, who played Eva Price in Coronation Street, who said: “It’s heartening to see that neighbours like Liz exist and are being recognised for the great work they’re doing to create communities where everyone feels safe and part of something.”

This year’s winners are announced as new data from Co-op Insurance and Neighbourhood Watch warns that the surge in neighbourliness seen in the Spring hasn’t been sustained, as pandemic fatigue sets in across the UK.

During the peak of the first national lockdown in April, data from Co-op showed a spike in neighbourliness, with almost three quarters (86%) of adults in the North East said they knew which of their neighbours was classed as high risk.

After seven months of pandemic restrictions, this figure has seen a dramatic fall, with just under (31%) of adults in the North East revealing they know which of their neighbours are at risk.

Co-op and Neighbourhood Watch are calling on people throughout the UK to reconnect with neighbours this winter to help start building back better in local communities.

John Hayward-Cripps, CEO of Neighbourhood Watch, said: “There have been some amazing entries this year, with some clear local heroes doing amazing deeds across the country right now.

“With the Co-op, we really urge everyone to be as supportive of each other as possible and be truly vigilant. It will be a very challenging Christmas for so many of us.”

Ellis added: “Our latest research is cause for concern as we start to see neighbourliness plateau. The length of time of the pandemic, the personal impact on everyday lives and the shorter days and colder weather are all key reasons for why we’re seeing this.

“We’re urging people to band together and keep up neighbourly spirits this winter, especially with neighbours who are vulnerable or alone, whether that’s by having a friendly chat over the garden fence, checking in to see if they need food or medicine dropping off or by keeping in touch online.”