A campaigner who is seeking an end to the horrendous scamming of elderly and vulnerable people has won a top title.
Marilyn Baldwin, 58, of Chesterfield, was awarded the Inspirational Woman of the Year gong at a glittering ceremony on Monday.
She scooped the accolade for her tireless work with the Think Jessica campaign to help elderly and vulnerable people who are affected by postal and telephone scams.
Marilyn founded the charity in memory of her mother, Jessica Looke, who died aged 83 in 2007 after being tormented by callous scammers.
She said: “I’m absolutely elated to get this award.
“It’s a tribute to my lovely mother who was my inspiration.”
Marilyn told how her mother was conned out of an estimated £50,000 after being targeted by about 30,000 scam letters in the last five years of her life.
She said: “It was as if she had been brainwashed – she was totally convinced that the paper chase the criminals were laying would eventually lead to a pot of gold.
“She was at the mercy of criminals who were working in organised gangs and I was powerless to help.
“She gave them everything including her mental and physical health – and the last five years of her life.”
Presenting her with the Inspirational Woman of the Year Award, ITV presenter Lorraine Kelly said: “Marilyn Baldwin is a really deserving winner. Her campaigning to raise awareness of scammers as part of her Think Jessica charity is inspiring and has made a real difference to the community and the people around her.”
Also speaking of Marilyn’s award, actress Olivia Colman said: “To help people who are vulnerable and older and often forgotten about is a fantastic thing to do.”
Cllr Ellie Wilcox, Derbyshire County Council’s deputy cabinet member for health and communities, said: “The Think Jessica charity provides a lifeline to families when their loved ones are targeted by fraudsters.
“The many complaints we receive about scams that target older people only scratch the surface of what is a growing problem. Sadly people are often too embarrassed to report fraud, or worse, try and recoup losses by claiming more elusive prizes.
“I’m delighted that Marilyn’s work to help some of the most vulnerable people in the community has been recognised and hope it will help to highlight the support that’s available to people targeted in this way.”
The Think Jessica campaign is supported by countless agencies, organisations and police forces across the country.
As well as raising awareness, the charity organises national poster campaigns.
For more information about the campaign, log on to www.thinkjessica.com