2019 Nominees

Charlie Ilsey

Over the past few years, Charlie has had a rough ride. Despite enduring more than what most of us will ever experience in a lifetime, Charlie rarely complains about anything. He is a warrior who possesses so much courage and bravery. Here is why. Charlie’s heart-breaking story: In 2015, at just aged 8, Charlie was diagnosed with a brain tumor called a medulloblastoma. He endured emergency surgery to remove the tumour and then many rounds of radiation followed by four stem cell transplants. He was recovering well, until the devastating news in March 2018 that the tumour had returned in two places on his spine. Two further rounds of chemo didn’t halt the growth and the tumours unfortunately doubled in size during this period. In early 2019, he underwent Cyberknife treatment in Turkey at a huge cost which the NHS would not fund. Most of the money was raised through crowdfunding and one generous private donor. So here we are now, Summer 2019. Since Charlie’s return to the UK in April, he’s doing well and is feeling good. He returned to school part-time and has even enjoyed a few chilled afternoons in his inflatable swimming pool in the back garden. Although his follow-up scans remain clear, which is the best news, in July he started immunotherapy treatment in Germany, to offer hope of a long-term cure. However, as much as he looks forward to a brighter future, there are scars that can’t be erased. Due to the location of the brain tumour, his pituitary gland was damaged, meaning he won’t grow any more. The hair on top of his head will never grow back. He can’t run or play football with his mates as his balance has been affected. The chemotherapy has also left him with irreversible side effects, including permanent blindness in one eye and significant hearing loss. He has also suffered irreparable nerve damage, so that one half of his face permanently droops. Yet regardless, he still smiles, he also had 2 eye surgery 1 facial animation surgery and has another face surgery and eye to go end of year. As his confidence and self-esteem have taken a blow due to the damage inflicted on his body by the disease and the treatment, this award would give him such an incredible boost.

Lyndsay Bell

In April 2019, I was diagnosed with triple negative, grade 3 breast cancer. On that day my world stood still, I’m 29! This couldn’t have been happening to me…I have two babies aged 2 and 4 and an amazing partner of only 12 months, he’s an absolute hero for all of us and continues to be my rock. It took a while for the reality, the anxiety and the anger to set in for us. Decisions needed to be made, “are you considering more children?” They asked on the day of my diagnosis “well actually we don’t have any together and we’d hoped to have one of our own” so the process commenced, 2 hormone injections a day and then the egg collection procedure which I’m pleased to say went very well for us. The fear of delaying treatment was intense, but my nurses assured me they wouldn’t let me do it unless they believed I could wait. Chemotherapy commenced towards the end of May, the plan was 6 rounds followed by surgery and possible radiotherapy. I was awaiting tests for the BRCA1 gene which would determine the type of surgery required. During treatment I focused my energy on spreading awareness amongst other young women and sharing information on how to check your breasts. I’ve shared my story candidly for all to see in a hope that by doing so there is a chance people who may have never checked their breasts before getting to know their normal and feel confident in questioning anything they aren’t quite sure about. If just one person gets an earlier diagnosis than they may have then my work here is done. Chemotherapy has been grueling and there has been times where I thought I couldn’t carry on but with the love and support from my family we’ve done it! I am also very pleased to say that my genetic test results showed no evidence of BRCA1. We are now awaiting surgery and 3 weeks of radiotherapy, which I’m reliably told will be a walk in the park in comparison! The light at the end of the dark tunnel is in sight! 

Zoe Zenklusen Payne

Zoë’s boyfriend of 7 years had just proposed to her in Rome and they were busy planning their wedding. Having met each other later in life, she was turning forty a month after the wedding, they had planned to start their family immediately after. Then, Zoë was diagnosed with estrogen receptor positive breast cancer. Four years on, she describes her experience. I found a lump in 2012 that I immediately had checked out. Fortunately, this was only a cyst. But it felt like that lump never went away, so in 2014 when it started to hurt, I went to get it checked. I was completely numb and shocked when I received my diagnosis. I worried that I wouldn’t be able to have children. I was also worried about dying. I was getting married. I was also worried that I was going to be sick all the time as that was all I knew about chemotherapy side-effects. I was off work for sixteen months and wanted to be as active as possible.  More recently, spread has occurred to my liver and vertebrae. after the initial shock, I got on with my day to day life. I am now on Faslodex, an estrogen receptor down-regulator in conjunction with the targeted biological therapy Ibrance which I started a couple of months ago after the progression of the illness. I was unable to have my eggs frozen prior to treatment due to the aggressiveness of the breast cancer and as it was hormone positive, they didn’t recommend that I carried a baby. Despite this, mentally I have been genuinely handling everything well. My husband is my absolute rock and a great support. My brother’s wife was amazing, and my brother visited me every day when I was hospitalised and of course my family and friends, both locally and overseas were great.  

 I now have more time to focus on my business, Simply Zoë, where I supply elegant and comfortable yet functional items, to help women through their treatment and recovery after a breast cancer diagnosis. I spend time with friends, and I look after myself and my health. Yes, it’s horrendous and scary and living with uncertainty is unpleasant, but medicines are advancing all the time and I am hopeful and determined that this will be a chronic illness that I have to live with, but that I will be able to live with comfortably. I have cancer, but it doesn’t define me. 

Berkshire Youth

Berkshire Youth support, empower and inspire vulnerable or disadvantaged young people who are often unable to access help anywhere else.   

Our specialist on-the-street youth workers interact and build relationships with young people where they ‘hang out’; shopping precincts and parks late at night and encourage the young person from the streets into local youth activities. Our holistic support for young people has been rolled out into Berkshire schools – preventative education for young people, helping with early identification of those at risk of gangs, drug and knife crime.   

Our youth clubs provide support to local communities in the towns and villages of Berkshire to set up youth clubs. Support includes training: First Aid, managing risk, sport and art programmes, safeguarding, mental health and how to engage young people at risk. In addition, we provide advice on best practice and ideas for weekly events and activities. Our clubs provide a safe friendly place to develop, with access to activities including sport, music, drama, film production and lots more.   

Berkshire Youth delivers an invaluable service to the young people of Berkshire: 12,000 young people engaged with Berkshire Youth in the last 12 months and their network of clubs and projects have delivered and provided support for over 70,000 positive and engagements with young people.

Headway Oxfordshire

Headway Oxfordshire is a vital lifeline to those living with brain injuries and their carersThey have recently celebrated turning 30 years old is based in Kennington, Oxford and in this time has supports around 400 individuals affected by brain injury, providing essential support services and to their families, as well as rehabilitation through their Activity and Rehabilitation Centre (ARC) which was redeveloped two years ago.  

Headway Oxfordshire relies on the generosity of the local community to provide the essential service to adults that suffer from the devastating effects of a brain injury, whether it’s from strokes, accidents, tumours, meningitis or other forms.  

I have been attending Headway Oxfordshire as a service user now for many years and they have made a huge positive impact and changed my life so much for the better, and this for many other service users who attend across four-day centre groups a week. : 

Headway Oxfordshire truly is a special and essential lifeline to everyone whose lives are impacted by it, and to have been running for 30 years is an incredible achievement and a testament to the wonderful staff and volunteers who work hard to keep the service running and providing such vital help and support to those whose lives have been affected by a form of brain injury, people like me who without Headway Oxfordshire and their support my life would not have been improved so much. 

Swindon Food Collective

Swindon Food Collective has been doing a great job feeding people who are in food poverty in Swindon and the surrounding area. They have fed over 5000 people this year and kept the food bank running through a complete change of charity management. The mission of Swindon Food Collective is to reduce the impact of food poverty on people in crisis in the Swindon and district area. Our core activity is the collection and re-distribution of donated food helping those who are facing food poverty, sustaining children at school, enabling families to eat nutritionally and extend their budget. Beneficiaries are mainly adults however around 30% are children. All are disadvantaged by poverty, disability or are marginalised with many working and only ‘just managing’ on low wages or there has been a sudden change in their circumstances. In the last 12 months we have fed over 5500 people. Clients are referred to us by over 60 agencies and claim a food parcel of 3+ days nutritionally balanced food, resulting in reducing the numbers of people being hungry, helping prevent crime, housing loss, family breakdown and mental health problems, reducing severe or chronic food poverty (meaning skipped meals or going without eating – sometimes for days at a time). Low income is resulting in higher numbers coming forward for help. Some other reasons people come, include: School holidays impacting upon families greatly when there is no access to free dinners, breakfast and after school clubs and this increases the pressure on family budgets and food stores. People coming home from hospital without immediate support or the ability to shop for basic food – they benefit via a referral from the hospital social workers. We are an emergency response to people’s crisis – we’re there when people need us most. 

CSRA

Having established the International CSR Excellence Awards 8 years ago we embarked on a journey to define a CSR framework which we could use to establish a national CSR Accreditation scheme. We wanted to see what good looks like and encourage organisations to act with value. With backgrounds in brand reputation we understood very early on that achieving a CSR Accreditation offers organisations the opportunity to talk about the positive CSR activity they are engaged in. A good CSR policy connects you with the community that surrounds you, ensures you act responsibly about the environment and helps you value and look after your staff while ensuring that your products and services are delivered ethically and responsibly. Following 18 months of development ensuring transparent processes and the establishment of a totally independent CSR Accreditation Assessment panel represented by organisations in the public, private and third sectors we launched the scheme and CSRA Ltd in July 2018.  

Since then many organisations have become CSR Accredited with 5% of all the fees going to charity, currently Rennie Grove Hospice and DEBRA, and a tree planted for every accreditation. We have been endorsed and independently recognised by Bucks New University.  

And now offer CSR training endorsed by The Institute of Administrative Management and provide CSR Impact reporting as well as providing CSR learning for Primary and Secondary schools. We are particularly passionate about helping the next generation build these issues into their everyday thinking.  

It is amazing what we are already doing in the arena of CSR that we don’t talk about. 

FastTrack Fitness

Founded in 2009, FastTrack Fit Camp is primarily an outdoor group fitness business. Outdoors is the foundation of all that we offer. We’re award winning, have collectively over 55 years’ experience in the fitness industry and have helped over 1700 people since we opened.  

Our belief is that feeling good doesn’t start and stop with a one-off exercise blitz or faddy diet. It’s a lifestyle choice and we are here to inspire and motivate others towards success. Our holistic approach is simply to combine outdoor exercise regimes with healthy eating plans that will get you fit and keep you feeling great.  

In April 2019 I (Heidi) decided to change how FastTrack Fit Camp traded and became a social enterprise. It wasn’t something that had been slowly considered. It was a punch in the face kind of wake up that I got one morning, and I felt compelled to act on it. I saw that my ability to influence change in my community was way greater as a business owner than an individual. I felt a duty of responsibility to make sure that I did do something with this opportunity – and so the Social Enterprise was born.  We’ve started new projects. Old ones have been given some shape and form with our new social enterprise focus. And small, regular impacts are being made, in Wokingham, across four key areas that I wanted to impact: trees, trainer recycling, food waste reduction and flowers (rewilding) – with some community litter picks and charity fund-raising thrown in!  

Internationally we also collaborate with B1G1 to donate to a water charity in Malawi and donate spectacles to Cambodians with poor vision.  

We are currently planning our first trees donation and planting to two schools. One in Shinfield and one in Wokingham.  

I have spoken about Social Enterprise to several business and community groups since April and, to also introduce the community project that I started 8 years ago called the 100 Day Fitness Challenge. This year it’s to include litter picking as well as walking for the last 100 days of 2019.  

FastTrack Fit Camp is the proud holder of the Silver Accreditation Mark from CSR Accreditation Ltd. A mark of recognition for the level of contribution and effort to CSR activity.  

Links2Lead

In 2015, Rachel Tombs took the huge and unconventional step of leaving her legal career of fifteen years to start her own business, called Links2Leads. Whilst working as a solicitor Rachel had started using LinkedIn to expand her network and keep in contact with existing and future clients – she quickly realised LinkedIn’s potential for creating lasting business opportunities and lead creation. Links2Leads initially focused on offering a professional and expert LinkedIn profile writing service to business owners and individuals. Rachel then expanded her service to run training courses that not only taught attendees the skills necessary to succeed on LinkedIn, but also acted as a networking opportunity for everyone on the day. She also branched out to offer 1-to-1 LinkedIn coaching and LinkedIn profile and content management for those clients who wanted Rachel to build awareness of their business and strategic alliances with key contacts on their behalf. 

After only a year, and after helping hundreds across the country, Rachel was awarded third place in the Best of Windsor Awards in the Business and Professional services category.  

Rachel is a prolific networker both off and online – she works and lives the values of her business. She always has time for people from any size of business, she’s very much a people person and known to many as the “LinkedIn lady” and now has over 5000 followers on LinkedIn and over 100 recommendations. She can often be heard on local radio discussing the values of networking, LinkedIn and the importance of quality customer engagement. In 2017, her skills were acknowledged when she became the winner of both the Venus Regional and National Networker of the Year Awards.  

In October 2018, after increasing demand from her legal Links2Leads clients for additional marketing services, Rachel launched a second business called Orion Legal Marketing. Rachel assembled a team of experts with over 100 years’ legal and marketing expertise between them, and together they offer full marketing and business development services, from strategic to the tactical, including branding, website creation, marketing, videos, brochures and social media. After less than a year, Orion Legal Marketing now provides legal businesses in the UK, Europe and the US with support for their online and offline marketing and business development campaigns.  

Rachel supports and inspires her clients and is fully invested in providing them with services that help them grow and achieve their personal and business objectives. 

Graham and Jane Stead

Graham and Jane Stead’s son Tom, sadly passed away in the early hours of Boxing Day 2017 after a brave 2-year battle against osteosarcoma, (a rare form of bone cancer), aged just 19.  

Tom was diagnosed in March 2016 and spent the remainder of that year undergoing gruelling chemotherapy and a replacement knee operation. He continued with some further treatment during early 2017 but the cancer returned to the back of the same knee in May, so another operation followed by six weeks of radiotherapy. September and October were great for Tom; he returned to college and the family enjoyed a holiday in the sun. In November, Tom started feeling unwell again; the cancer had returned this time to his lungs and within two months of our holiday, Tom had passed away at home.  

Tom fought his illness so bravely and with a determination that his entire family are all so proud of. Nobody so young should have to go through something so awful, but of course there are many families such as ours. We want to help push forward the research into bone cancer, and specifically osteosarcoma, and to also help support those who are so cruelly touched by this disease.  

It was our aim to raise £100,000 supporting both the Bone Cancer Research Trust, and Kamrans Ward at the John Radcliffe children’s hospital in Oxford. Amazingly, with so much help and support the target was achieved in a little over a year. Currently at a little over £120,000 we will continue to fundraise and help to raise awareness of bone cancer amongst children.  

Annual golf days, bingo nights, London to Paris bike rides, marathons, tough mudders are just a few of the events that have been organised.  

Oxford Hospitals Charity has used their split of the donations to purchase 5x Philips Intellivue MX100 monitors which technically are far improved from the current monitors used, and importantly can travel with a child throughout the hospital so they wouldn’t need to be disconnected and reconnected to multiple machines, causing significantly less discomfort.  

Bone Cancer Research Trust have made significant research investments into Osteosarcoma with their split. https://www.bcrt.org.uk/research/our-research-strategy 

Judith Capper

Judith strong will, determination and positive attitude is a true inspiration to us all. Judith was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003, aged 26. She had surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, Herceptin, Zoladex and Tamoxifen and finally finished her treatments in 2009. She longed to have a child, never thinking she would be able to conceive after all her treatment but was blessed with a daughter – Lydia – in January 2014. Everybody in the hospital called her a miracle baby. In 2018, she was diagnosed once again, when her annual mammogram picked up changes that wouldn’t have otherwise been noticed until the cancer was more advanced. This time the cancer was bilateral, and she underwent a double mastectomy with reconstruction, chemotherapy and hormone treatment. Judith is a keen runner and had just signed up for a half marathon when the second diagnosis came through. She wanted to give her body the very best chance of healing, so kept running and doing Pilates right up until surgery.  She also decided to walk every single day during chemotherapy – 128 walks in 128 days – and to ask people to sponsor her, with the money going to Cancer Research UK. At the start of chemotherapy Judith set out to do 128 walks, 500 miles and 1.5 million steps. At the end of her 128 days, she’d achieved 173 walks, 838 miles and 2.9 million steps; raising £3,650 by herself, and a team total of £6,196 for Cancer Research UK as part of the Race for Life “Pink Pilates Power” team.  Judith is a self-employed sustainability consultant and sole parent and feels hugely grateful for support from her close family as well as from the farmers that she works with. She sincerely hopes that her fundraising will make a real difference, moving us closer to the day when cancer isn’t such a frightening word and a cure has been found. 

Paul Beasley

Paul sadly lost his wife Jill in February 2018 to Secondary Spread Breast Cancer. Jill fought for 5 long years undergoing many different treatments and handling each one with such dignity and patience. Paul and Jill were going to take on the JOGLE (John O’Groats to Lands’ End) challenge before Jill became ill. Sadly, they never got around to do it together. Paul decided that 2019 was going to be the year he took on the JOGLE challenge and knew his wife Jill would have wanted him to. He chose to raise funds for Against Breast Cancer, who fund research into Secondary Spread Breast Cancer, as he wanted more people to have more tomorrows with their loved ones. Paul set off on the 1st May from John o’ Groats and over 76 days, walked 1360 miles to reach Lands’ End on the 15th July. Throughout Paul’s JOGLE challenge he did a daily blog to keep everyone updated on where he was and how he was getting on. Paul did this challenge unassisted with just a rucksake on his back. He stayed in Air B&B’s, hostels and even sleeping pods. Walking though water, high foliage, near to the edge of cliffs and through some of the most beautiful parts of the country in very high heats then some days getting blown over and soaking wet from the wind, rain and hail, Paul’s JOGLE was very challenging. On day 30 of this JOGLE Paul had a slip on the Pennine Way. He badly hurt his ankle and knee – over the coming weeks Paul’s leg got worse but he refused to give up and carried on with his walk, walking anywhere between 15 – 27 miles a day. Paul managed to get his leg check out around day 50 and then on day 57 was told he had a grade 1 tear in his hamstring. Despite being in a huge amount of pain, Paul carried on walking. The love for his wife Jill and the determination to finish, along with all the support he had from friend’s family and even strangers he’d met on his route kept his spirits high and drove him to the finish! Paul has raised so far £9000.00 for Against Breast Cancer, this true gentleman has done his wife proud. 

Alison Porter

Alison Porter is a journalist, coach, spiritual counsellor and interfaith minister. After an eclectic career including film production, publishing and a high-profile corporate life heading up PR divisions for the Channel Tunnel and sale of the Millennium Dome – all while pursuing her interests in spiritual psychology – Alison’s journey with breast cancer began in early 2015. She underwent mastectomy and reconstruction after taking an unconventional approach to treatment. 

Originally from Australia and now based in the UK, Alison utilised a lifetime’s learning in spiritual and self-help techniques to help her overcome her illness, and to create the roadmap for healing that is Stronger Than Before. 

Her work is now focused on supporting women with breast cancer – coaching them through all stages of their illness, helping them to make the choices that are right for them and empowering them through self-care. She sees breast cancer as a transformational process that can catalyse enormous posttraumatic growth – bringing the potential for a life of far greater meaning, joy and purpose than ever before. 

Andrew Baker

Andrew from Oxfordshire has been fundraising for over 17 years and has raised over £175,000 which he has given back to good causes. He lives with a brain injury but despite this he is a prolific fundraiser particularly in Didcot where he lives. He has an extraordinary positive attitude through determination drive and perseverance since a very young age despite his own adversity. . Andy began his mission to repay Oxford medics who saved his life twice. followed by setting up his very own fundraising organisation aged 19. He doesn’t show any sign of retiring in raising funds anytime soon from.  It is Andy created his very own successful charity, Play2Give which he proudly founded in September 2007. Play2Give was initially born from a football tournament for charity but since 2013 has evolved becoming a well-respected and much-loved fundraising organisation. Andy’s charity has really developed, organising and hosting a wide number of events and campaigns, all from his inspirational leadership and drive. He oversees a team of ever-growing volunteers to come together to create change through positive impact, many long-term for the benefit of others, from young and old from healthcare services to those less fortunate.  

 

Andy brings out the best in people he unites them and passionately fundraises because for him giving back means so much to him. His team of volunteers has increased to 30 plus after a group of ‘Superheroes’ came on board to help. These specialist volunteers raise funds and awareness by organising runs and walks and public events. ‘ 

 

 Andy has received a British Citizen Award at the Palace of Westminster in 2017.  One of the most significant and proudest achievements was the single patient room that opened at the Oxford Children’s Hospital named after the organisation in March 2017 treating teenage patients. The achievement of a lifelong room for teenage patients only happened because of Andy’s passion to see the project of raising £40k for the sponsored patient room through.  

 

 At Christmas last year Andy and a group from his Army of volunteers visited the Children’s hospital JR wards to deliver the biggest amount of presents ever donated through the fourth ‘Sleigh2Give’ appeal which saw gifts estimated to be worth around 30k distributed out amongst young patients their siblings at the hospital and also young carers in South Oxfordshire and parents who benefit from the support of Home-Start to ensure that a wide number received a Christmas present they may not otherwise have got.  

Professor Diana Eccles

Professor Diana Eccles is Dean of Medicine and Professor of Cancer Genetics at the University of Southampton. She originally trained in general medicine before specialising in adult oncology. Prof Eccles moved to a Genetic Epidemiology research post in Southampton whilst training in Clinical Genetics. When appointed to a consultant post in 1995 she set up one of the first NHS funded Cancer Genetics Services in the UK. Prof Eccles has research interests in breast cancer treatment, cancer prevention, and genetic epidemiology (the study of how genetic factors influence health and disease in families). She has brought over £20m in grant income and has authored over 280 peer reviewed publications and 15 book chapters. Prof Eccles’ main research interest is in how the knowledge of genes that make someone more likely to get breast cancer can be used to improve the treatment of the condition. She is the Chief Investigator for a large “benchmark” 18-year national cohort study, the Prospective study of Outcomes in Sporadic versus Hereditary breast cancer. This study was established in 2000 and investigated the role of inherited genetic mutation in breast cancer risk and prognosis, collaborating with investigators nationally and internationally.  

 

This involved tracking the progress of more than 3000 breast cancer sufferers from 127 hospitals across the UK. The findings from this research shows that cancer patients who have the BRCA fault are just as likely to survive as those that don’t have the BRCA fault. The impact of these findings showed that having life-changing surgery, such as mastectomy, might not always be the best option for young women.  

 

 Some of her key achievements include: Establishing and developing a new cancer genetics clinical service Starting an annual family support day for carriers of the BRCA gene and people with Lynch syndrome; Developing an internationally adopted classification framework for reporting genetic variants linked to clinical context; and establishing the importance of cancer pathology in assessing genetic risk and integrating the collection of the relevant data into clinical practice. Her contribution to science has been recognised by several awards and prizes including the MacElwain prize for outstanding research in oncology, the Healthcare Foundation Mid-Career Award, and she was awarded a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians. 

Fiona Frost

I am nominating Fiona. For at least the last 7 years she has organised the cake sale at Abingdon’s annual Splash of Pink, raising funds for Against Breast Cancer. Each year, her fundraising smashes the previous year. Last year she raised over £600 on the day. She organised a team of bakers, and then organises the team on the day to provide a wonderful selection of cakes, biscuits, and savoury goods, and ensures that vegan and gluten free diets are catered for as well as dogs! Her stall looks stunning every year everyone really looks forward to her cake stall! I personally love baking for it and helping. My now 12-year-old daughter also loves helping and has done so for the last 4 years. She is a local hero to me!  

At first the cake stall wasn’t the slick operation it is now it has gradually acquired lovely serving plates and cake stands, handmade banners and bunting from my wonderfully supportive friends and family, it really is a team effort! She has learna lot in the first couple of years which has helped maximise the amount she raises each year.  

 

It was only by learning from running the cake stall at Splash of Pink that she was able to put together a website, on it she shares all the things she has learnt about baking for charity, in the hope others will be able to raise as much as possible too.  

Most recently she was gobsmacked at the opportunity to contribute recipes for the Breast Tea Ever packs.  Packs that the charity will send out to all their supporters. 

Mitali Kelly

What started out as a new year’s resolution to reduce the amount of plastic in her waste became a mission, when Mitali, a finance consultant, developed a passion to educate others on how to recycle. 

She began buying plastic-free products, started researching different recycling methods and firmly believes that children are the key to challenging us changes the way we think about waste. 

Additionally, Mitali reduced plastic by using plastic free deodorants, shampoo bars, soap, EcoEggs for laundry and she now shops in zero waste and refill stores as much as possible. Like most consumers, she found it very complicated to understand what we can recycle via the council and her focus became making recycling simpler to understand. She also came across Terracycle, a company that takes the plastic waste that councils do not recycle and turn this into plastic pellets that can be used for playground equipment, whilst simultaneously benefitting charities. 

On Earth day in April 2019, Mitali attempted to broaden awareness of Terracycle in her local village Twyford by running a competition which was promoted by the Henley Standard. Through a local magazine (RG10) promotion of the event she met Emma Donald from the action group Twyford Together, and the two of them pushed to launch Terracycle collection points into Twyford. Mitali is now on the Steering Committee for newly formed Twyford Rethinks Its Plastic (TRIP), a group which is working on reducing single use plastic in businesses and has accredited 5 business as plastic free. TRIP’s agenda is to encourage residents to: Refuse, Reduce, Re-use, Recycle, Terracycle or Ecobrick before allowing waste plastic to go to landfill. 

The next stage is to accelerate educating Twyford residents, with a specific push on EcoBricks. TRIP Is attending events in Twyford and working with local schools in order to spread the word 

Mitali says “The EcoBricks are being sent to a homeless charity in Reading to build shelters, an initiative being lead by two amazing Twyford residents Gordon Holmes and Holly McRitchie. 

Rev Margreet Armistead

Margreet is the vicar of St Nicholas and St Mary Church. Margreet does so much for the community in Littlemore. When she came to the village around twenty years ago Margreet started a Christmas lunch in the school for the community. I think she is an asset to the village for her support to the elderly and young. She tries to include everyone in the community when she arranges any event for the village. Margreet is currently working on upgrading the church with a kitchen and toilet to improve facilities for the community. Now we have a community breakfast 2 days a week during term time and during the school holidays it is Monday till Friday. Some Sundays Margreet runs concerts in the church to bring in the community together. She is always willing to get involved in any event in the community. 

Jennifer Lowry

Jennifer Lowry and the Southampton Breast Cancer Clinical Research team, comprising 3 research nurses and 2 clinical trial assistants are an incredible team of dedicated medical staff offering patients the opportunity to take part in innovative breast cancer clinical trials. Over the last two years they have enabled over 1500 patients to take part in trials, making Southampton one of the top performing trusts in the country. Their compassion and support for patients is widely recognised in Southampton and they are frequently commended in NHS patient surveys. In short, this team makes a real difference to the lives of breast cancer patients in Southampton as well as contributing to furthering research into breast cancer.  

Jenny Lowry has been an Oncology Nurse for 30 years, working in Southampton for 27 and the last 17 of these have been in Breast Cancer Research.  

As a Research Team they work closely with members of the Breast Multi-disciplinary team, promoting clinical trials within the department. They are responsible for assessing and managing the holistic care and treatment pathways for patients and carers participating in clinical trials. In addition to this we are involved in the recruitment, education and monitoring of trial patients and we ensure the accurate collection and documentation of trial data.  

In their time in research they have had the opportunity to work with many enthusiastic clinicians/nurses and have had the great privilege to meet many patients and their families, who although going through an extremely stressful time in their lives have contributed to Breast Cancer Research by participating in clinical trials. Many of these Patients have felt ‘empowered’ when taking part in a clinical trial as they feel a sense of control during their treatment. We are always motivated to provide the best care and support to all our patients whilst dealing with this life changing disease.  

Q1Care

Q1Care is comprised of a dedicated team of experienced carers, with experience of companionship, dementia, palliative care and homecare across the UK as well as locally now in Berkshire and Oxfordshire, including Henley and Wallingford. Melanie Meads founded Q1Care Ltd in 2013 having spent most of her professional career in nursing and caring for the vulnerable in one form or another. She has 15 years’ experience in nursing, from care of the elderly to Director of Nursing in Moscow. Melanie has always had a sense of concern for the unrepresented sectors of society – the elderly or infirm.  Melanie loves to care and loves the elderly.  Her best day would be able to sit and listen to her patients and all their stories from when they were young.  Melanie’s care ethics ripple throughout her business and she always create time for her clients, so they feel valued and cared for. A couple of years ago Melanie set up The Care Hub in Goring a community area within her local village and for Melanie this was a great personal achievement and one that she is wanting to do more of throughout the country – our local communities are key to our health and wellbeing at any age. The Care Hub in Goring is ‘the place’ for people to congregate in Goring, Berkshire, if they are looking for adult support, company or advice on any aspects of care in the home. The Care Hub is now part of the Safe Places National Network. What does the hub provide? We run a range of clubs and educational sessions and are of course dementia friendly. We are a safe and caring environment for anyone needing that little helping hand or someone to turn to.  

 Melanie Meads, founder of Q1Care, is an active member of the Gap community and has been involved in many community services over the years, from being a school governor, working for a couple of the local businesses and being the treasurer for the scouts for a time. She is a dementia champion and is a member of the Dementia Action Alliance group in Reading.  

Yasmin Turner

My biggest achievement was completing my nursing degree after working as a healthcare assistant at the children’s hospital John Radcliffe Oxford and the becoming a paediatric nurse  for the last 4 years and obtaining a position on Toms surgical Ward. . I have now gone on and recently been promoted to deputy sister which excites me as I feel very passionate about this new opportunity. I work with children of all ages varying physical. And psychological and development health needs. I give each individual child and their families my complete and highest standard of care pre and post op. I have mentored several student nurses and feel very proud when I see them achieve their goals and qualify. Every 12-hour shift ending I feel fulfilled and know I have cared for my patients in a compassionate and intelligent way. I have raised money out of work for the children’s charitable fund which has been a great achievement out of work taking part by abseiling down the hospital and 

Running a 3-k run dressed as a superhero along with my excellent committed team of iToms ward Nurses. 

Aduke Onafowokan

The Sister Sister Network’s mission is to inspire women to stand up and take the lead, one woman, one community at a time.  

Aduke has dedicated her time to helping women from all walks of life become transformational leaders. In 2016, she founded The Sister Sister Network, an organisation that aims to provide women with the opportunity to gain the insight, education, empowerment and inspiration required to achieve their personal goals and become leaders in their chosen fields 

The Sister Sister Network is at the forefront, helping women tap into their natural abilities and become effective leaders. We offer women free empowering leadership and personal development training and support that enables them to transform their lives and change the world. We believe that information, support and positivity are the pillars of growth. All our events are designed to help women access the right tools and skills, a positive tribe of sisters who support them and the confidence required to unlock their potentials. 

As we know, developing leadership potential in women is crucial to global economic development and advancement, our work is to make leadership development and personal development accessible to all women regardless of their backgrounds and experiences.   Through the Network and individually, Aduke continues to make a widespread contribution to the advancement of women in business, career and public life. 

Debbie Atkins

Debbie has always been a prolific networker, promoting her Nordic walking business. A few years ago, she decided to invest in becoming an Athena Network Regional Director. The Athena Network is a women’s only networking franchise. Debbie started with three groups in Reading and now has six! She is known by everyone as incredibly hard working and an amazing networker. She is selfless in her referrals and has a passion to help women grow their owns businesses and goes above and beyond to help them regardless if they are a start-up or established. She is a fountain of knowledge. She doesn’t only run the Reading and Henley Athena groups which are forever growing, she also organises social events to further network and encourage people to come together in a professional and personal way. She is also an avid supporter of local charities, she donates from her meetings, events and attends as many as she can. She always supports the Against Breast Cancer Achievement Awards by having two tables for The Athena Network members, family and friends. She has walked the Reading Half Marathon in the snow when it was cancelled as she couldn’t stand not completing the challenge she was sponsored for. She is an all-round brilliant businesswoman, community supporters but most of all known as the key networker in Berkshire. 

Jennifer Benavidaz

Jennifer is a phenomenal networker, always helping others to connect for their benefit, she privately supports a lot of charities, is a great supporter of local businesses whether it is supporting someone at the launch of their book about Breast Cancer to turning up and being present in a hands-on supportive way. Jennifer Benavidez loves to dance–it´s been her passion for over 20 years. Born in the US, her Mexican heritage has given her dancing ricosabor (good flavor). She discovered ballroom dancing in 1992 while studying at the UT Austin. Jennifer’s hips made her focus more on the latin dances and then she discovered SALSA! Her salsa dancing, performing, teaching and presenting has taken her on many lovely travels. After being discovered in LA, she was asked to travel to Amsterdam! She eventually co-owned one of the top salsa schools in Holland for over 9 years… teaching salsa to over 1000 students a week! You can see Jennifer dancing in numerous commercials, music videos, TV shows and FILM! By focusing on the charity side of Zumba, she has given back to the community by organizing and teaching at several Zumbathons around the UK.    

When she is networking, she doesn’t just think about how to promote her business but how she can support others, a key and integral part of being a good networker.  She is the person people go to if they need help, business contact or some business advice. 

Alice Bracher

Alice is 17 years old and is in the Sixth Form at Didcot Girls School (DGS). Since joining DGS six years ago, Alice has worked hard to maximise her academic potential and consistently achieve top marks, whilst also signing herself up for every leadership opportunity available. She sat on the School Council for two years and was House Captain for a year, which developed her leadership and communication skills and has enabled her to become a prominent member of the school community In 2018, Alice took part in the National Citizenship Service (NCS) initiative and her group of twelve 16-17 year old students raised over £800 for their chosen charity over four separate events. Along with a group of friends, Alice has raised almost £3,000 for various local charities over the last two years.  

In the summer, Alice sat her A-level Maths a year early and achieved a Grade A, so that she can study Further Maths alongside A-level Physics and Computer Science and ultimately pursue her dream of a degree and career in Aerospace Engineering. 

Alice was awarded a prestigious Arkwright Scholarship in 2018 – a highly prized Scholarship awarded by the Smallpeice Trust to outstanding STEM students nationally. The Scholarship has already provided some fantastic opportunities, for example to take part in a training and development course at RAF Cranwell and attend a presentation by British astronaut Tim Peake at the Royal International Air Tattoo.  

Alongside her own career aspirations, Alice has also been passionate about using the Arkwright Scholarship to inspire younger students to consider their futures in engineering or other STEM careers. Therefore, she was chosen to be one of 100 girls in the country to be awarded with a ‘Think Kit’ by the Smallpeice Trust, to help her support the DGS Science Club.  

Charlotte Evans

Charlotte Evans is 12 years old and has been competing at kickboxing tournaments for 4 years. To be at the top level, Charlotte needs to compete at tournaments across the UK and Europe to fight top fighters. As you can imagine, the costs of equipment, training, travel and tournaments adds up over the course of a year, so we choose which tournaments she attends carefully whilst still maintaining her current No.3 World Ranking.  

In 2018, Charlotte competed at 21 local, national and international competitions; winning 35 medals a combination of 1st, 2nd and 3rd places. She was selected to represent Team GB at the World Kickboxing Championships in Venice and was also awarded the converted CIMAC Fighter of the Year after being selected from 100s of fighters ranging from the young to the veteran adults. Charlotte is on track to exceed last year’s achievements and has already achieved success at no less than 15 tournaments including winning at major internationals such as the Irish Open, Dutch Open, Junior European Cup and the 4 national CIMAC series competitions. She has also won every ‘Open weight’ category in the Young Cadet age group this year which is a fantastic achievement for any fighter and one of these was at the Junior European Cup. 

This year Charlotte retained her place with WAKO Team GB and travelled to the Junior European Kickboxing Championships in Hungary in August securing two bronze medals.  

Charlotte’s season continues to press ahead with some key tournaments left on the calendar, but she already has eyes on next year’s World Championships and an ambition to one day be part of the Olympics.  

Daniel Atkins

In the spring of 2017 Daniel (Dan) Atkins a young canoeist from Reading who was promoted to boys B division in the national sprint canoeing divisions, from that point he trained daily to achieve his dream of national and international success, in the Autumn of 2017 he represented Great Britain in the Olympic Hopes regatta in Racice Czech Republic, roll forwards to 2018 with further effort and daily determination he was invited to train at Dorney Lake alongside members of the senior GB team, the 2018 season culminated in a Bronze Medal at the Olympic Hopes in Poznan racing over 500m in a K4 Kayak with fellow GB team mates. In 2019 Daniel began training alongside Liam Heath GB’s Olympic Gold medallist and world record holder. Earlier this year Dan set the national junior course record at Nottingham National print regatta over his favoured 200m distance. He qualified also to represent GB at both the European Championships and the World Championships. Dan excelled at both events winning every heat and semi-final. He also won both finals being crowned U18 Junior Men’s champion taking the gold medal at both events. To culminate the 2019 season Dan raced at the UK National Championships in Nottingham where he achieved 6 National Championship titles and two silver medals. He is a dedicated young man, modest in his approach and continually willing to help other junior and adult athletes alike in their canoeing, he juggled his studies with his daily training commitments arriving slightly late to school each day having got up after 05:00 to train rain or shine each day.