On 10th November 2012, Ben’s life changed forever.
As he was walking down a street in north London, a car mounted the pavement, striking and killing his wife, Desreen, in front of their then two-year-old son, Jackson.
Unable to find other young widowed fathers to help him understand and cope with his grief, Ben started blogging about his experience in the hope that others would step forward.
His original intention was simply to get more men to open up and talk about loss. After publishing several blog posts, a number of other widowers made contact and Ben began to find the empathy that he was so desperately searching for.
Things quickly snowballed. Within weeks Ben had written for a number of national newspapers, appeared on various TV shows and secured a deal to write what would become a bestselling book about dealing with the first year of such a significant loss. Millions of people visited his blog and thousands got in touch. Ben had exposed a real insight into the complexities of grief, providing much-needed support and understanding for all sorts of people suffering with this all-too-often unspoken pain.
Over the next few years, Ben went on to use what he had learned to help other families dealing with terminal illness, sudden death and bereavement.
He started a private Facebook support group for hundreds other widowers, many of whom had lost their wives to cancer. A number of these men also supported in the production and appeared in a BAFTA-winning BBC TV documentary, which Ben pitched and co-produced. Rio Ferdinand: Being Mum & Dad, showed the football player at the early stages of the loss of his wife, Rebecca, to breast cancer.
Around the same time, the UK Government dramatically cut the benefits available to bereaved families. In response, Ben set up and chaired the Life Matters taskforce, in partnership with prominent bereavement charities, to both fight these changes and campaign for better long term financial and emotional support for such families. He wrote and presented a report, including a number of key recommendations, at an event held at the House of Commons, and continues to campaign publicly for positive change.
In addition, Ben also collated and edited Afterwards, a crowdsourced collection of stories and advice about what happens after breast cancer, with the support of The Estée Lauder Companies. The book aimed to help cancer sufferers and survivors - and the people close to them - understand the ongoing emotional and physical impacts breast cancer, fighting the notion that everything goes back to normal afterwards.
The Oxford Mail and its sister papers have been amazing supporters of its local community, in particularly for the Oxford Children's Hospital, for which I nominate them. I wish to thank them back for their continued support of my own organisation's activities Play2Give, and feel they deserve to be appreciated for their sterling work to support the Oxford Hospitals Charity for the past 16 years, with their Oxford Mail OX5RUN.
The OX5RUN is the Oxford Mail's 5-mile fun run, for which they launched in 2002, as part of their original fundraising campaign to help raise £15million to build the Oxford Children's Hospital in 2007. The Children's Hospital at the John Radcliffe wouldn't be here today without the influential support of the Oxford Mail and its sister papers who not only helped raise money towards the original building appeal, but also week in, week out provided valuable media coverage with stories of fundraisers efforts and events, and latterly over the past 10 years the OX5RUN has with the Oxford Mail's continued commitment helped to provide and fund the very latest medical equipment, entertainment items, research facilities and diagnostic equipment, to help maintain Oxford's Children's Hospital to the very highest standard.
The Oxford Mail continues to highlight the work of the Oxford Hospitals Charity through ongoing regular coverage of not just the OX5RUN but also supporters in the community's fundraising work, which helps increase the awareness of the charity and raise the valuable profile of the Oxford Hospitals Charity. The Oxford Mail alone has helped raise over £1million for the Oxford Children's Hospital over the past 16 years through the OX5RUN - an astounding amount for an event they created in 2002 which initially had around 600 participants and £15,000, to day these fun runs have the support of around 1,000 runners, walkers and joggers and the event continues to grow year on year continuing to raise invaluable sums of money for the specialist children's hospital, 2018's event raised a record breaking £148,000, smashing 2017's record £126,000!
Folk Arts Oxford is a community arts organisation which aims to promote folk and traditional dance, music and song in the Oxfordshire region. In particular we are interested in improving access to the arts for those who might face barriers to participation.
Through our funded project work children in Headington have learned about local lad William Kimber, and the musical legacy he has left; a new band called Iris has been formed, who accompany all their songs with Makaton signing; and in our most recent Hands up for Singing project children from mainstream and special schools in Oxfordshire have had the chance to create music together, and perform on the main stage at the celebrated festival Folk Weekend: Oxford.
'Hands up for Singing' is a project using Makaton-signed song to bring together children from mainstream and special needs schools. The project has been praised for its inclusivity and was granted one of the High Sheriff's Community Integration Awards, via Oxfordshire Community Foundation.
During the project FAO trained a team of ten folk artists on how to make their work inclusive and use music to connect with children with disabilities and learning difficulties. They learnt some basic Makaton signing, as well as how to sign a selection of folk songs. The artists then spent time in SEN schools, teaching the pupils and staff the songs, and curating an interactive and inclusive musical experience for them. Each SEN school was paired with a mainstream school, who brought along a group of children to participate in the music sessions. It was really special to see the two groups beginning to integrate and enjoy making music together.
The project culminated in a huge celebration concert, with children from participating schools performing their songs on the main festival stage alongside professional folk artists Iris, to open the 2018 Folk Weekend: Oxford festival.
Lee Crook from Wallingford is a walking talking hero.
He has thrown himself into raising money for local charities, in particular the fundraising organisation, Play2Give, which I run, over the past four years (since 2014), ever since he was inspired after meeting me through his employment at Sainsbury's in Didcot when the store fundraised for Play2Give.
Since then, he has taken on Movember (growing a Mo for the entire month of November), he has dressed up as Santa and walked cross country 29 miles after finishing a night shift one cold December morning in 2015 to deliver some presents to the children's wards of the John Radcliffe.
He has earnt blisters, aches and bloodied feet many times by walking various sponsored walks, including a 1000km walk over 10 weeks, and two walks in a million last summer and currently he is into day 12 of his second such feat, he has helped organise Easter raffles, and all of this has helped Play2Give raise funds for the Oxford Children's Hospital, and this year for the Footsteps Foundation.
Lee is a hero it is for sure, and his efforts deserve to go noticed, and appreciated, to me I think he is a local hero! He calls me his inspiration and his local hero, but the real hero is Lee for taking on such amazing challenging and hard feats. Walking one million steps, that's an average of 33,000 steps a day, is no mean feat, for that alone he deserves applause!
Lynne has driven numerous fundraising events in the last few years to support local Manchester charity RECLAIM totalling approximately £25k.
The most recent activity was in June 18, where Lynne rallied a team of 15 from Cisco Systems to do the UK 3 Peaks climb, but also handled all of the logistics including travel, accommodation and support team in her own personal time.
This challenge raised £10k for RECLAIM who are a youth leadership and social change organisation. They are a small but bold charity, using their experience and platform to support and amplify the voices of working class young people. They are driven by the understanding that young people on the periphery, with lived experience of UK social inequality, hold the key to social change.
RECLAIM recognises that working class young people have latent talent but often need further support to equip them with the resilience, skills, confidence, networks and pride necessary to break the 'class ceiling’; and that true social change will only be achieved if those currently in power are willing to listen and learn.
On the 8th January 2015, the Schiller family woke up as a family of four. They went to work and school as usual, not knowing that this was going to be the day that changed their lives forever. They had dinner together, watched tv and said goodnight and see you in the morning to their son Max as usual. When they went upstairs to go to bed two hours later they found their beautiful boy had left them. Max was just 10 years old. They subsequently discovered that he had an undetected heart condition known as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) – a thickening of the muscle wall of the heart. This is a genetic heart condition that does not always display symptoms and consequently is very difficult to detect.
Max's parents, Dave and Shira, and his sister Molly, together with the backing and support of their family and friends, decided to set up Max’s Foundation in March 2016 as a lasting legacy to Max. Their hope is that through greater understanding of the condition, young lives can be saved and no other families lives need be shattered.
They have dedicated themselves to helping fund research into the detection and treatment of HCM and other heart conditions in pre-adolescent children. They also want to support projects to help support those families who are affected by these conditions.
For their very first project they have funded a new role of Research Nurse at the Centre of Inherited Cardiovascular Disease at Great Ormond Street Hospital. This is initially a 3year contract and her role is vital to the research being conducted by Dr Juan Kaski –Director of the Centre, and also Ambassador for Max’s Foundation. His goal is to find new and better ways to detect and treat rare heart conditions, particularly HCM. Max’s Foundation are hoping to extend and fund the nurse’s contract for another 2 years so her vital role within the department can be continued.
Max’s Foundation are committed to raising as much as possible in as many ways as they can. In the 2 ½ years they have been running, they have held 2 gala dinners, 3 golf days as well as quiz evenings, and a variety of other events. Through their hard work and the incredible generosity of their supporters, they have raised well over £150000.
The Charity have also been able to buy much needed equipment for GOSH, including an infra-red spectroscopy machine, an ECG machine and 3 ambulatory Heart Monitors.
This family and their Charity are truly inspirational and remarkable. They have gone through what no parent should ever have to endure and have created a legacy that will hopefully help many other families in times to come.
Berkshire Women's Aid have been working with women, men and families for over 40 years in Reading, Wokingham, Bracknell and more recently West Berkshire.
They provide confidential support, information, outreach services and refuge accommodation for women and their children who are affected by domestic abuse and violence. They also offer support, information and outreach to men who are affected by domestic violence. The need in this area continues to grow in numbers that seem shocking to most of us. Different services are available across the area but as an example:
- Outreach services across the region supported 1043 clients in 2016/17 (last complete year information is available) 29% increase on the previous year from Reading, 44% increase from Wokingham and 33% increase from Bracknell
- Children’s services reached out to 407 children in 2016/17
- BWA received over 120 referrals for refuge accommodation, including 84 children
- Over 6424 calls to the helpline As local councils are able to fund less and less services to address domestic violence the team at BWA continue to offer the services and work hard to find other sources of funding.
It’s not too much to say that the BWA team are quite literally saving local lives every year.
The Oxford Food Bank was set up in 2009 to combat the large amount of surplus food wasted by the food industry and now collects hundreds of tonnes of surplus fresh fruit and vegetables, dairy and bakery produce each year. This surplus food is delivered 7 days a week, to over 80 registered charities plus community group kitchens in the Oxford, Abingdon and Didcot area: day centres for the homeless, night shelters, community centres and youth groups, refugee centres, infant groups, safe houses for women, soup kitchens, lunch groups for the elderly and rehabilitation and therapy groups. The number of organisations supported is growing continually.
All the surplus produce collected from wholesalers, food producers and supermarkets would otherwise end up in landfill. Less than 5% of this surplus produce eventually becomes waste and is taken FOC to the Cassington Agrivert Anaerobic Digestion plant.
In cooperation with Waste2Taste, a social organisation based in Oxford closely linked to the Oxford Food Bank, we have set up and funded two pilot schemes to help those in halfway housing to understand how to prepare and cook fresh food and thus to provide themselves with a healthy diet at a low cost. These two sets of workshops have been very successful on a number of levels from social cohesion through to finding employment. With sufficient funds we would like to continue these workshops.
OFB is self-funding. No charities pay for produce, no suppliers pay for surplus collections. The Food Bank has become an integral part of Oxford’s charitable community and their service makes a huge difference to many lives – economically and nutritionally. Charities save large amounts of their funds by receiving free surplus foods. This allows them to focus on their main aims. OFB also saves its suppliers from larger landfill fees.
In recognition of all the work this 120 volunteer-led charity has done, OFB was awarded The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Services in June 2018. It is the unique UK national honour created by Her Majesty, to mark the Golden Jubilee in 2002 and to recognise the outstanding contributions made to local communities by groups of volunteers. QAVS is the MBA for volunteers.
Smart Works Reading was opened by Sarah Burns in 2015, providing a real solution to tackling the root cause of unemployment in Reading and the surrounding area. Smart Works is a charity that helps out of work women regain their economic independence. Offering women a two-part service in preparation for their job interview. The first, a personal styling consultation, in which the client is given a top to toe outfit for the job interview from a bank of high quality donated clothing. Followed by a one-to-one session of interview coaching, led by professionals, executive coaches who volunteer their time to help prepare clients on personal conduct, interview questions and body language. Smart Works Reading sees over 400 women each year and retains a 60%+ success rate, reiterating the power of offering a helping hand in times of need.
Many of the women come to Smart Works with a disheartened sense of self-belief and low confidence a natural side-effect that develops when job-hunting and a long time spent out of the workforce. The styling session helps clients connect with the volunteers and open up about their personal experiences; collaborating with our stylists to cultivate a new image for themselves as they start a fresh chapter in their lives. By providing practical, non-judgemental advice, guidance and the perfect outfit for that extra confidence boost, they enable more women to reclaim their independence and rebuild their lives with a new career; regardless of their previous experiences or personal history, with encouragement and reassurance. This short intervention has a significant impact as clients start believing in their own ability to succeed.
Anyone’s life could fall apart through the loss of a job or relationship or illness. The women assisted are long term unemployed - many with mental health issues, applied for 50+ jobs and/or lone parents.
Smart Works Reading has a phenomenal “return on investment” – a volunteer led organisation managed by 2 staff members. Clothing comes from corporate and individual donations as well as retail supporters. A visit to Smart Works Reading is a transformative, empowering and inspirational moment on a journey to employment. Sarah Burns is the driving force behind Smart Works Reading and inspires the whole team of volunteers to deliver the aim of the charity.
“Smart Works made a tremendous difference to my life in the two short hours I was there. It's like having little angels come down and make everything better, taking away all your stress and nerves.”
“From the moment you walk in you are made to feel special. They make you feel that you’re as good as anybody else, that you deserve to look and feel good. Having someone else believe in you, it gives you self-belief”
After many years in the Probation service Angela has devoted her life to voluntary activities which have included Rape Crisis, Victim Support and the setting up of a group for parents of children who had been sexually abused. Having been diagnosed with breast cancer herself and undergone a mastectomy the focus of her life changed, and she founded the Basingstoke Breast Cancer Self Help Group in 2003 to provide help, friendship and support to those ladies who had undergone breast cancer surgery. The Group now has over 55 members providing invaluable support for those of us afflicted by this disease. Angela works tirelessly and voluntarily for the group and she provides invaluable assistance and comfort to the ladies and their families. Angela really is an angel and is deserving of public recognition. She is an outgoing and inspirational woman and is always willing to meet up for a coffee and a chat with anyone who contacts the group on diagnosis. As one member has said, “In my own case she put me in touch with Joyce, a member of the group who was a little ahead of me in her treatment, and as a result Joyce and I have met several times for coffee and chats which I found very supportive.” Our group meets monthly at the Ark Conference Centre which is attached to the North Hampshire District Hospital. At the meetings there is a mixture of medical and other speakers. Social events play a great part in the Group activities which include a narrow boat trip along the Basingstoke canal, visits to local gardens and the Lavender Fields which always end in a delicious cream tea. One of the most enjoyable events of the year is the Christmas party. The year’s programme is a lovely mix of activities, support and socialising with women who have all been going through the same treatments for breast cancer. The ladies are all very grateful for Angela's farsightedness in setting up the Group. Angela herself is very modest and says she is amazed at how the group has grown over the years!
My life changed for the better on 25 October 2006 when I was given the news I had breast cancer. I remember a sudden calmness at that moment. My daughter was with me and my first thought was, ‘could she be in danger of the same?’ I was 63 but still a mother. A bubble surrounded me and I stayed in this bubble until 4am when I woke and had such urgency to get ready for what was to come. I went to Tesco’s and I remember desperately searching for everything I needed for hospital, I think I was even mumbling under my breath. The assistants must have thought I was mentally ill. I told anyone and everyone what had happened that day, I guess the shock had suddenly hit me. This experience is what I have carried forward, an understanding of what it means to be told life might be shorter than you had expected.
It is now 2018 and I lead a most wonderful group of ladies in the Didcot Divas choir, singing for charity anywhere and everywhere we are asked. We number 28 members with some ladies who no longer sing coming along when they can and their health permits. Every single Diva has a story to tell, some have lost their husbands recently, others are not so well themselves or their loved ones are very ill. The two hours a week on the Thursday afternoon is their space to enjoy good company, a shoulder to cry on, a hug, lots of laughter, and oh yes, some singing too! I have never known of a choir who are all so loving towards each other. They have supported me every step of the way, we are a co-operative, decisions on everything, songs we sing, what we wear, when we party, charities we support, are made by us as a unit. To date since 2012 when we first supported Against Breast Cancer, the choir has raised in excess of £14500.
I was classically trained at the Royal College of Music in London many years ago. Music is for all, it lifts the spirits, brings back wonderful memories and has been proven it has excellent health benefits. Laughter too does the same and our concerts are never stuffy, we take our laughter to the audience too. We have many hidden talents and I am still uncovering them! So everyone in the choir has a chance to shine and perform and they do.
Mel has been running the Berinsfield Boxing Club for 24 dedicated Years! This boxing club is a charity that is solely run by volunteers. Mel dedicates 5 nights a week, every week, to run the boxing club and most weekends when the boxers have bouts, this can mean traveling all around the country, some weekends this can be a Saturday and a Sunday! This boxing club means that young people have somewhere to go of an evening, it gives them discipline, fitness, a way of meeting new friends, and a massive achievement in their life competing in a tough sport, without Mel this really wouldn't happen!
As well as running the club Mel is a grade A England judge where he travels the country at England championships from association level to National finals , he is also Home Counties Medical Registrar, an welfare officer, all his free time is took up with helping kids an and young adults , they teach the Nobel art of boxing , not all members want to box some are just keep fitters, the Gym hosts a membership of over 80 , kids and young adults Mel loves what he does and its wouldn’t be possible without the total support of his wife and coaching committee of Beinsfield boxing club.
"The Bra Consultancy are local bra specialist offering a personal bra fitting service which offers ladies following breast surgery a personal, understanding bra fitting and prosthesis experience. They promote the Bra bank and raise money for sponsorship to support and raise funds for breast cancer. They work alongside International breast surgeons and cosmetic plastic surgeons for many years and felt there was a lack of a bespoke bra measuring service offering a personal touch with a wide range of stock and continuity of staff to give informed advice on the correct products to choose. They set up the Bra Consultancy to help all ladies of varying ages from teenagers to more mature ladies to find the correct fitting bras and we are passionate about delivering a first-class personal service to all our clients. In addition, they now offer a range of beautiful feminine lingerie for ladies following Breast Cancer. A user of The Bra Consultancy after surgery – ""Since a mastectomy and further corrective surgery it has been difficult to find comfortable bras, underwires are uncomfortable and generally poor fitting boring bras from the high street. My plastic surgeon recommended Julie to me and I am a very happy lady. The service she provides is outstanding she quickly gets a feel of the type of person you and what you like and do not like. I've never seen so many different types of pretty comfortable bras that fit so well. Its gave me my confidence back. I will be recommending the Bra Consultancy, Thank you Julie"
A mile from both Theale village and M4 J12 the Fox & Hounds pub at Theale is situated on a quiet lane. It’s now a thriving Wadworth pub. Miles (Kitchen and Back Office) and Jayne (Front of House) have run the pub for the past three years. Wadworth is a longstanding family owned brewer which aims to be the premium regional brewer.
With just a few houses within half a mile of the pub we have made a virtue out of the necessity of attracting visitors from Reading and nearby villages as well as very local clients to make the business successful. Today some of the clientele comes from even further afield (one or two internationally!) as word about the pub spreads. It is certainly now a “destination” pub as well as a local pub and that success has led to more than 20% growth every year since Miles and Jayne took over.
Everyone who works at the pub is very proud that they have been recognised with a number of awards over the past few years, e.g. National Dog Friendly pub of the year 2017/18 (gaining both national & international recognition) and “last 5 finalist” in Great British Pub Awards Best Family Pub of the Year 2017/18.
The Fox & Hounds goes way beyond just being the “ordinary” pub experience. The pub is extremely family friendly covering all generations with diverse menus and activities that provide something for everyone.
With a high quality, excellent value Food and Beverage offering (including their famous Sunday roast) as the bedrock, the business also makes a huge contribution to the local community. Jayne takes the lead in developing the pub calendar which is crammed with events from Tribute band evenings through to Charity Dog Shows, Family Fun days and Quiz nights.
Many of the events raise funds and awareness for local Good Causes. Jaynes first instinct when asked by a charity if the pub can help is to say yes, hence the crammed but successful pub calendar! September 2018 will see the pub host its largest ever event celebrating the life of Faye Knowles in aid of cervical cancer awareness. The numerous local charity beneficiaries of Jaynes fun raising skills include Willink school, Newbury Dogs Trust and Reading Homeless Ark Project.
Not only does Jayne take the leadership position in supporting charities, over the past few years she has also taken on a number of younger employees that may have found it difficult to get a job elsewhere. She has helped grow and develop these employees to become successful young adults and several have now progressed on to further their career elsewhere having gained a useful initial skill set and valuable self-confidence.
Miles and Jayne pride themselves on the high quality and friendliness of service offered and run ongoing training programs help ensure that the whole team understands the pub values and is able to meet them. As a consequence, our team is highly motivated and all of them, be they kitchen or front of house based go the extra mile to ensure a great client experience.
The business continues to develop in some quite significant ways. For example, they are currently investing in a luxury 40-seater Tipi that will be built in the pubs large garden in the autumn. This will help expand the range of activities and accommodate, in their own space, office/family parties. Importantly, it will enable clients to enjoy a magical Christmas Day experience of dining in the largest pub tipi in the South East.
The breast clinical nurse specialist team is both delighted and humbled to be nominated. As a team of five with back up from a support worker we work with ladies and men diagnosed with breast cancer throughout their journey from the point of diagnosis. Working daily with patients and their loved ones we see the impact a cancer diagnosis has, and it is a privilege to play a part in the lives of our patients and those who care for them. We are often asked ‘what do you do?’ and we like to think we are the -‘glue-’in the breast service, with an empathic and holistic approach to patient care. As a team we bring a wide range of experiences together to work closely with both our surgical and oncology colleagues and the wider healthcare community.
Our aim is to try in the words of one patient’ to stop us being gibbering wrecks!’ and to this end we are a connection of knowledge and information to different specialists, or more simply put we are the interpreter, navigators, cheerleader, supporter and for patients. We hope we are the –“wind beneath their wings”, supporting others around them professionally and personally to be that as well.
However, we don’t do this alone and we never fail to appreciate the support patients receive from each other and through wider organisations that support us by continually fund raising, supporting patients and funding research to drive knowledge forward thus improving outcomes.
Emma and Hannah are two Nurse Specialist’s for the Inherited Cardiovascular Diseases Team at Great Ormond Street Hospital. Both have been an incredible support to me and my family over the last 2 years. My son was diagnosed at 2 days old with a heart condition and at 3 months old was referred to the specialist team at GOSH. Emma was my first contact at such a stressful time. Her calming manner and information she gave us was incredible making us feel in the best hands. She sat and let us ask all the questions we needed and answered them in a way that we would understand and made things very clear. She has been at the end of the phone every single time I call her with a question or for some advice, without her the last two years would have been so stressful. Both Emma and Hannah were there for us when my son had to have his heart surgery at GOSH. They both came to see him before he went down and told us if we needed anything, all we needed to do it let them know. Henry's surgery took 4.5 hours and he didn’t come out of recovery till around 1730. Emma finished work at 1700. Yet at 18:00 there was a knock on the door and it was Emma, she had stayed behind at work awaiting Henry's return to his room, she herself has 2 very small children and has over an hour’s drive to get home. She came and gave us advice on his wound even though our son had a ward nurse Emma still wanted to make sure we were ok and check how Henry was doing. She even gave us more information on how the surgery went as she had personally gone to see the surgeon himself to find out. Hannah came to see us the next morning before my son was discharged home. I must stress Emma and Hannah were not working on the ward they were in clinics and meeting new families that needed help and reassurance yet they still took time out of their days to come and make sure all was ok. This care really does make a difference. To see a familiar face at a very distressing and worrying time is the most amazing feeling even more so knowing that they didn’t need to come and see us but they did and that means so much to us.
Last year Gerry retired as a long-standing Health Visitor of more than 30 years. She looked after thousands of children and in some cases generations of families. She was known as the fairy godmother to most of her families as she was such a truly wonderful person. Nothing was ever too much trouble. Gerry would give you all the time you needed, you'd never feel rushed or like she needed to be elsewhere, no question was too silly, no matter what it was she had an amazing listening ear and had such a calming way of making you feel and know everything was going to be ok. Her advice and kindness were second to none. This wonderful woman had such a caring heart and is so dearly missed by so many people, including myself. She was always at the end of the phone. 30 years in one job shows you have passion for something and this is exactly what Gerry was, she was so passionate about helping families, giving the best advice she could and making you feel like you were doing your best for your child. Gerry is totally irreplaceable as a Health Visitor and I miss her dearly. She was the Health Visitor to both my children and I can't thank her enough for all she did for us.
"Angelika is an author, mentor and public speaker dedicated to helping people to change their life for the better. She has personally helped me through a very tough period in my life with no value judgements, no pressure to act, no labelling, just empathy, guidance, respect and nurturing.
Her motivation for helping others in this way came from her own personal experiences of changing her own life. She suffered horrendous trauma as a child and this set the tone for her adult life, as she shares with anyone either in her book, on stage or in a one to one session.
She inspires everyone she meets I don't mean that in a reference to her accomplishments but by how motivated she is to use her experiences to refocus people in their time of desperate need. She shows you that you have the power and you are deserving of the life you want. Angelika grew up in an environment of domestic violence and suffered years of trauma and sexual abuse as a child. Her abuser told her that she would never come to anything. She was made to feel inadequate and worthless. When she was 9 years old her father told her that when she is old enough she be working as a prostitute to make him a lot of money. The seed was plated. She attracted the man in her life that introduce her to that profession and worked as an Escort Girl for many years. Being strong and intelligent, Angelika realised that she could change her life. Her past was not her destiny! Through a process of learning and self-development, she accepted her past and looked to the future, ultimately working in various fulfilling roles in the corporate world for many years. Eventually, Angelika realised that her purpose and passion in life was to help others reach a place of acceptance and wellbeing. For the past 17 years, she had helped to transform many people’s lives. At one stage she qualified and practiced as a Bowen therapist, but in recent years focuses on mentoring, workshops and speaking opportunities, enabling people to live a joyful, fulfilling life. Helping you to move on from adversity and develop a positive mental attitude, Angelika’s programme of workshops and one-to-one sessions highlights where your negative beliefs are, how they’re holding you back, and helps you to achieve specific goals to re-create your life. "
In 2010 Moira & David Martin, Directors of the family run business, Kelly’s Storage, conceived a unique method of helping charities in their community.
Moira, is passionate about encouraging an active lifestyle, having fun and giving back to those in need so they decided they would pay for and organise runs, walks and cycles which would provide huge fund-raising opportunities for local charities and at the same time would relieve those charities of spending their precious time and resources in organisation. The charities would receive 100% of all money raised with no cost deductions whatsoever and by charging no entry fee but asking for voluntary donations instead, Gift Aid could also be claimed, adding 25% to the money they receive.
Moira proceeded to set up a separate department called Kelly’s Storage Charity Events and has continued to work tirelessly since then, singlehandedly organising between 3 and 5 events a year for different charities. She has now raised over half a million pounds.
The events are professionally organised to the highest standards and Moira strives constantly to improve and enhance the customer experience and to include innovative methods of delivery, always with the aim too of raising as much money as possible for the charity.
Moira has dedicated herself to her fundraising mission and the benefit to the company and the charities has been enormous! The staff are massively involved in all the events and there is now a strong culture of giving and caring in the company. All staff volunteer, enter and even do their own fundraising initiatives. Kelly’s is now well known and recognised for its charitable ethos.
Moira always hoped that other companies would see that by helping others they would grow and benefit. She has been delighted to spend time talking to several business owners and managers who have approached her to ask for advice as to how they too could set up similar models.
Moira is always willing to help charities wherever possible and has built long-lasting, valuable relationships with various charities. “Challengers is a children’s charity working with disabled children and young people across Surrey and Hampshire and surrounding areas. We focus on breaking down the barriers to play so that everyone can attend which is vital support for the hundreds of families we meet. No other supporter knows how critical this is than Moira Martin because her level of commitment to raising the much-needed funds to support the charity’s work is outstanding.
She has worked tirelessly over many years to organise and fund mass participation events that together are designed to raise more money than any other event we take part in. These 2 annual events are so important in the charity’s calendar and without them, the associated PR and fundraising we know our delivery for this vulnerable group of children and young people would be negatively affected.
Moira does this work without any fuss or need for acclaim but works selflessly to support a important part of our community. We wanted to find a way of thanking her and demonstrating her philanthropic approach to life and the only way we could do this was appointing her as a patron of the charity which we did in 2017. Moira’s work for Challengers is something that we would be lost without – as would the hundreds of families that need the service.”
Laura Sercombe, CEO Challengers
Although now employing a part-time events co-ordinator, Moira still works constantly. She is full of energy, embodies the family-values of the company and whole-heartedly believes in everything she does for charity, aiming for the stars and striving to constantly do more. She deserves recognition for the years of dedication that have gone into creating such a wide-reaching, inspirational legacy that makes a real and tangible difference to hundreds of people in our communities.
John Henry Newman Academy, as stated by The Oxford Mail, is ‘…a ‘special place’ for the entire community’. For the first time ever, the school was rated ‘good’ in 2018. The school converted to an academy, as part of Oxford Diocese Schools Trust, in 2012 (which technically creates a new school), but its reputation was still linked to its predecessor, which was twice handed Ofsted’s worst rating. A sea-change was needed. The improved city school now lives and breathes its core values of Love, Courage, Celebration and Community. By putting the needs of the children and community first inspectors were able to state that “Mutual respect permeates the school. It is evident in lessons between teachers and pupils, and between pupils”. All staff have a deep knowledge and understanding of the community they serve; only by working with the families has success been enabled. Ofsted noted this, stating, “All staff ensure that the physical and emotional well-being of pupils and their families are of paramount importance”. By promoting well-being and mindfulness, not only for the children, but for the whole community of families and staff, a culture of respect is now interleaved into all aspects of school life. When asked, one of the pupils, aged only 6 was able to state that “It’s a good school and I like learning in it. The school makes me feel safe”. Parents also have commended staff for going “…above and beyond to help and support my child”.
The care and commitment of the team was evident in the school when staff were moved to tears with the Ofsted judgement earlier this year. Staff were quoted as being “Over the moon”. It is a new era for not only the school, but for the community which has been long forgotten in Littlemore. Chief executive of Oxford Diocese Schools Trust, Anne Davey said: “It is fantastic to celebrate another good school in the heart of Littlemore. [The trust] is proud to be associated with this hugely successful improvement in pupils’ life chances.” The staff will continue with their unwavering dedication to improve the life chances for all of the children they teach, through an exciting, meaningful and challenging curriculum which will ignite a passion for learning and drive for success in the next generation. Being a school is in the city of dreaming spires, John Henry Newman inspires the dreamers of the future…and that future looks good.
TP Toddlers (Teresa Farquhar, Paula Norton & Assistant Wyatt Norton) are childminders. Their dedication to child care is second to none. They’re so passionate and love all the children as if they are their own. They really do care for them beyond what’s expected of them as Childminders.
They care for both of my children and have gone out of their way and the extra mile when unfortunately, my daughter, aged just 7 weeks got very poorly with meningitis. We spent four days in hospital.
While in hospital, Paula, Teresa & Wyatt very kindly had my son over night at no extra cost. They went and bought us some essential food for when we returned home, which included lots of my son’s favourite food.
Whilst going through a stressful time they were there for us as a family and there to make sure that our son was okay and being cared for whilst we were at the hospital, this was a huge weight off our shoulders at a tough time, I really cannot thank them enough for all their support they gave to us.
Their kindness doesn't stop there, our son has recently been referred to speech and language therapy and because he doesn't communicate via speech he sometimes struggles with his emotions. Paula and Teresa went out and bought him his own bubble machine which calms him down when he gets upset as they knew he likes bubbles, alongside this they really are helping work towards his goals by going that extra mile to help with his speech.
I am so thankful that I have found such caring ladies to look after my babies and couldn’t think of a setting that deserve this award more!
As Qualified Early Years Practitioners, we have combined experience of over 40 years.
We pride ourselves on a homely, setting which enables us to go that extra mile to support families, with the added benefit of being regulated by Ofsted, which we were both rated ‘Outstanding.’
With the support of the children and families and our Assistant, we have been able to keep running smoothly, which ensured stability to all children whilst taking time out of work to support our own parents who are suffering from cancer. The parents at our setting have been so patient and supportive during this time, understanding when we’ve had late parents evenings, etc.
As a small childminding setting, we don’t often get the recognition as professional childcare providers. We are thrilled to be nominated for this award.
Since she was diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) 25 years ago, Betty has had a number of health conditions and operations, including a mastectomy, bowel cancer, skin cancer and multiple knee replacements. But Betty has never let any of these things stand in the way of her courageous personality and zest for life.
AMD is the biggest cause of blindness in the UK and Betty is now registered severely sight impaired. Due to her failing eyesight she can no longer read or see anything in any detail. She struggles to recognize the faces of her closest friends. However, she refuses to let this stop her from doing anything she wants to do.
In August 2017, at the age of 90, she decided to abseil down the Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth to raise awareness about a condition which affects 600,000 people in the UK. She raised a staggering £4,200 for the Macular Society.
Since her diagnosis Betty has helped so many people with macular disease by volunteering for the Society, including leading her local peer support group in Fareham. Betty’s positive attitude and knowledge are an inspiration to so many people. It is thanks to all her fundraising efforts that she has kept the Fareham Group financially stable for 16 years.
Betty has also supported many people through the Society’s befriending service, providing reassurance to people who have been newly diagnosed with macular disease. She uses her confidence and enthusiastic personality to inspire others and help them to retain their independence and improve their quality of life.
In 2017, David, who helps Betty at the Fareham support group, was diagnosed with prostate cancer. While he was receiving treatment, Betty did everything she could to support him.
Nothing seems to stop this amazing lady and she is truly an inspiration to everyone at the Society, and many others. Anyone who meets her is in awe of her positive attitude and zest for life.
Recently, Betty appeared on ITV’s Love Your Garden, presented by Alan Titchmarsh. She was nominated for the show in recognition for her hard work as a volunteer throughout her lifetime. Alan said: “You only have to spend a little time in Betty's company to be truly inspired by what she's done and, even at 91, is still doing for others. Our garden is our little way of saying a very big thank you."
"Patricia was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in January 2018; had a mastectomy in February & started chemotherapy a few weeks later. She has a passion for rowing and has continued to row throughout her treatment. Patricia used rowing as her distraction, keeping herself fit and doing whatever she could to not let cancer beat her. She continued to row though all 6 rounds of her chemotherapy treatment. Her oncologist told her to expect to be extra fatigued and to take it easy as she also has a history of ME, but she fought through and achieved more than she ever thought she would. She has been sharing her cancer story online through a vlog / Instagram feed called “Cancer in heels”; which inspires others to live their lives to the full and not let treatment stand in the way. She offers support to others and has been an incredible role model. Her strength, courage & determination is a real inspiration to many of her followers, fellow cancer sufferers and also her friends and family. She continues to share her story and vows to beat this awful disease! "
Stephanie is a single mother and campaigner. In December 2015 Stephanie’s husband and partner of 27 years died of cancer. His diagnosis came as shock and even more so when he was given just weeks to live. In those last few weeks they made a bucket list and worked their way through it, spending precious time with friends and family and most importantly their children. While having to deal with the fact that the love of her life wouldn’t be with them much longer, Stephanie also had to take care of their four children. Her two sons have a diagnosis of high functioning autism, their youngest daughter Daisy who was born with a very rare condition called Costello Syndrome and their eldest daughter who she describes as a creative social justice warrior.
Being strong for the children was vital, trying to keep things as normal as possible was hard but she managed. Not only was Andy’s health deteriorating but Daisy was life-limited and under the care of the palliative care team at Great Ormond Street. Not only did she have to juggle being by her husband and daughter’s sides in hospital but also the care of the three other children. She fought hard to bring Andy home and care for him during his final days. Sadly, Andy died in December 2015 at home surrounded by his family. Devastated and heartbroken Stephanie had to carry on for her children’s sake. Daisy’s medical needs become more and more complex over the year it was clear that her health was deteriorating. In January 2017 Daisy was admitted to Great Ormond Street hospital for the final time, she was taken to intensive care with irreversible sepsis causing multiple organ failure. Steph called the other children to be with her and on the 31st January 2017 she took the heart-breaking decision to switch off Daisy’s life support so that she could “dance in the stars with Daddy”. Within the space of 13 months the family of six was now four.
Steph is determined to ensure that despite everything she is thriving and not just surviving. She writes a popular blog which shines a light on the world of disability, end of life planning and caring and last year her memoir, Was this in the plan? was published on what would have been her silver wedding anniversary. Steph is still going, writing, campaigning, working and being a great mum for her three other children, her strength, courage, resilience and determination is incredible for something who has suffered such heartache and loss.
"Courtney started Secret Santa in 2012 after her nan was ill in hospital, as a young teen. Since 2012 she has handed over 35,000 gifts to vulnerable and lonely people at Christmas and helps the homeless and Elderly all year round. She also gives food parcels, holds tea parties for the elderly and furnishes homes for women in refuges. She works full time in the NHS and has M.E. Inspirational Courtney started her own Charity in memory of her late Great Grandmother Elsie Richardson. Elsie was in Hospital over Christmas and when Courtney visited her she noticed how many People were in Hospital over Christmas, some who had no relatives or visitors over the festive period. Courtney, with her own pocket money took Christmas to the ward. After her Great Grandmothers death in 2013 in her memory, Courtney wanted to spread a little happiness to people and dedicated to help people like her Nan would have done!
This she did and so started her journey from its humble beginnings to where it is today. Charity Secret Santa 365 Oxfordshire now collects over 10000 gifts annually and since its inception has raised more than 35,000 donated items which are given out each year. The original concept has expanded from giving gifts just at Christmas to collecting all year for other local People and Organisations. Since the start her Charity has helped many local Hospitals, Children's & Adult Hospices, Care Homes, Homeless, Crisis Houses and many other local People who need help. She has also participated in Charity Runs for Breast Cancer Awareness. Courtney works full time for the NHS as a Nursing Assistant and she is not 100% well herself, having for many years suffered with ME, with 2 bad relapses, resulting in her being unable to walk for 3 months. Courtney has worked tirelessly for many years now and has been nominated and awarded some local awards, Her greatest awards have been a British Citizens Award (voluntary) BCAv and a personal award from the Prime Minister Theresa May. She was also privileged to attend the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in May
Courtney is a shining example of a Young Lady, whose aim in life is to help others. So I nominate her for your award."
I would like to nominate Dom for this award. He was born 6 weeks premature and spent three weeks in hospital. Dom has cerebral palsy and has a result has to take medication every day and has Botox injected into his hamstrings and calves to ease some of the pain twice a year. Despite all this Dom has found a passion for swimming. He learnt to swim as a life skill and went on to be classified as a disability swimmer at the age of ten. Dom now competes for Portsmouth North sea swimming club having left Gosport Dolphins at the start of the year. During 2018 he has won events at county and regional level as well as national and international. In Maybe competed in an international meet in Sheffield and won the national 400m freestyle event. At the English nationals he swam 5 events, swimming and making new pbs 9 times and winning 4 medals. The following week he competed in the CP world games in Barcelona. Again, he entered 5 events and won 3 gold and 2 silver medals. Dom will return to training in a fortnight and will start working towards his next set of goals.
Evie-Mae was born 4 weeks early with Downs Syndrome. Doctors quickly discovered that she had two holes in her heart which thankfully over time healed by themselves. At 12 months she had to have an operation to fix a submucous cleft palate and grommets fitted in both ears and at 19 months we had the most devastating news that Evie had Acute Myeloid Leukemia. AML is an aggressive form of cancer of the myeloid cells which fight bacterial infections, defend the body against parasites and prevent the spread of tissue damage.
We had a family Christmas planned in Scotland that year, however Evie deteriorated quicker than expected and spent a week in the Glasgow childrens hospital before being stable enough to be flown home by air ambulance. Evie spent six months at our local hospital in Oxford, the first six weeks she wasn’t even allowed to leave the room due to the type of cancer she had. She was given three types of toxic chemotherapy which wiped her out, made her sick, made her eyes red and sore, made her itch all over but most of all made her well again.
In May this year we celebrated five years since end of treatment, this now means that the chances of the cancer returning has been reduced significantly. Evie had 15 inches of her lovely long hair chopped for charity, the hair went to The Little Princess Trust who make wigs for children with cancer and all monies raised went to CRUK which was approximately £1000.
Evie has also done many other things to raise money for charity, every year we take part in a 24hour relay. Evie opens this event by leading other survivors around a track before all other participants join in. You will often find her, despite having hypotonia (decreased muscle tone due to DS) still walking after midnight and she always enjoys dressing up for the themed laps. She along with her sister Freya has dressed in certain colours at school to raise money, cake sales, bingo, tombola and even standing at our local supermarket with a collection bucket. Anything we can think of and all the family get involved.
Evie is very well right now, she does still have annual visits to the hospital and now wears hearing aids in both ears for a moderate hearing loss but she always wears a smile especially when playing her favourite sport, football. She wants to play for her dads home team one day and with her fight and spirit I am in no doubt this dream will come true.