NOMINATIONS 2020 (page 2)
SMILE OF THE YEAR SPONSORED BY BROAD STREET MALL
Koren Riley and Lucy Drew of Adelaide ward Royal Berkshire Hospital
From the nominator: 'These two outstanding nurses made it possible for a patient to have a wedding on the ward as one of their last wishes. They went above and beyond to make this magical moment happen. This is one amazing team. Please see the RBH palliative care page for more information.'
From the nominator:: 'Since his wife Anna died of Cancer Ed has been inspirational at bringing their young daughter up (who was only 18 months old at the time) on top of fundraising for Victoria’s Promise, a charity that supports young women and their families effected by cancer. Ed gave up his job as a Police Officer to concentrate on being there more often for his daughter, and actually took the job as Fundraising manager for Victoria’s Promise. He is rowing the Atlantic later this year (Anna Victorious crew) to raise even more money and regularly blogs under ‘doitforanna’ on Facebook and Instagram with positives quotes to help others going through tough times. I’m proud to call him a friend and I know for sure Anna will be shining down on him with Pride. He definitely deserves to be recognised for all he does.'
From the nominator: 'Jenson Hookey is nine and an incredible young man who is running a marathon this month (April) in aid of Launchpad. He sees the homeless people in and around Reading, and really wanted to help make the world an equal place. He finishes his mighty challenge on 30 April and you can make a donation here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/jensonhookey
Another nominator wrote:
'I am writing to nominate Jenson Hookey, age 9 from Caversham, for both the Smile of the Year and the Chris Tarrant Award. Jenson and his mum initially reached out to the team at Launchpad Reading in late March 2019. Simone wrote that: "Jenson was very upset the other evening at bedtime because he saw the injustice in the world we live in. He sees the homeless people in and around Reading and really wanted to help make the world an equal place. Before he went to sleep, he wrote "I want to make a difference because there are people living on streets and we are sitting in our warm homes".
Jenson decided that fundraising was the best way he could help try to help the homeless people of Reading, and decided that he had to challenge himself to do this and came up with running a marathon in a month (26.21 miles)." Over the month of April, Jenson diligently ran, a couple of miles at a time, always working towards that goal of 26.21 miles. He shared his story with friends, family and on social media, which inspired others to donate to his efforts. I had the great pleasure of joining Jenson for his final mile on Friday, the 30th of April; he finished his run at Launchpad’s main offices on Merchant’s Place with a fundraising total of a whopping £1593. Jenson’s compassion, dedication and perseverance are commendable, and traits that are even more admirable considering he is only 9 years old, and was working towards this goal while attending school full time. He has stated that he will likely continue to run, but also continue to support Launchpad and learn more about the work that we do and how he can help to inspire others to give back and make a difference. For these reasons, I wholeheartedly and without reservation believe that Jenson should receive recognition with a Pride of Reading Award. The future of our community looks bright indeed with young people like Jenson leading the way.'
SCHOOL OF THE YEAR SPONSORED BY QWERTY
Birch Copse Primary School
From the nominator: 'I’ve nominated this school which I e been proud to be part of its community for almost 15 years because of the admirable way they have worked since March. Clear communication, amazing safety precautions and I felt my child was 100% safe when in their care. Head teacher and deputy outside school nearly every morning in all weather welcoming us each day. The most amazing staff and home learning was just the right level with regular phone calls from teachers at home to pupils. We don’t feel like just another number at BC, you really feel that they care about you as individuals. Mr Micklewhite and staff are amazing!'
No details supplied.
Numerous nominations for:
Westwood Farm School
From the nominator: 'This school has been amazing throughout my sons years of being there and have been giving outstanding support to pupils and parents throughout covid19. They constantly update us, tell us to contact them if we need to and even reply to our messages that we send on the weekends and evenings. The staff cannot do enough for you and make you feel at ease at all times. The children love the school and staff and thats because they are made to feel comfortable and they are happy there. All round it is just an outstanding, friendly and caring school community.'
'The school has gone above and beyond in dealing with the pandemic. They put the welfare of the children first on all occasions and genuinely care about them. The teaching has been second to none and the communication from the school has always been first class, particularly in difficult circumstances. My son attends the school and is absolutely flying. I can't thank them enough and feel that all the staff should get the recognition that is so deserved.'
'For going above and beyond for the children and their families They’ve worked tirelessly and smiled through this difficult time always going the extra mile with plenty of smiles They have pulled together to make a fantastic school even better.'
Little Dragons Nursery
From the nominator: 'Over this past year the staff of this nursery have worked tirelessly to look after many children who’s parents are key workers and members of the NHS . Covid has caused a struggle for most but they continued to be the best they could be throughout it all and put the children at ease from all the scary changes happening around them including keyworker parents living separately.'
Denefield Secondary School, Tilehurst Reading
From the nominator: 'I’m nominating Denefield as school of the year because of how they have run the school over the last year. From the first lockdown they worked tirelessly to get the home packs to everyone, regular contact with my sons tutor and other teachers throughout and very supportive as we had taken our son out earlier than official closure due to him being clinically vulnerable.
They worked extremely hard to get the school ready for students returning and we were so reassured with the measure they put in place that we made the decision to send our son back as felt he was safe there. With the last lockdown they were up and running g straight away for online lessons and my son had a full timetable with every single lesson of each day live with his teacher. We had parents evening via zoom which worked really well too! They are one of the only schools, if not the only, to have not had to isolate a whole class/year group through covid and their numbers of cases are extremely low. I believe it’s due to the measures Mr Towill had put in place including very staggered start and finish times, set classrooms for students to avoid the need to move across the school throughout the day.
Having a clinically vulnerable child is a huge worry, especially at the moment but I feel he is very safe at school and we are reassured by everything they have done. My youngest is starting in September and the programme we have received for her already to take into consideration what can and cannot be done in the current climate is so reassuring that she will have a smooth transition!!'
Many nominations for:
Shinfield St Mary’s CE Junior School
From the nominator: For their outstanding work in the field of ecology and sustainability. They were the first school in the UK to be both accredited gold standard net carbon neutral and to have been awarded as an official partner of the UN in their Climate Neutral Now initiative. Shinfield was even showcased at the COP 25 in Madrid and are due to be showcased again at the COP 26 in Glasgow this year. This is astounding when you consider they are all under 11 in a junior school. The school incorporates sustainability across the curriculum and all children take an active part in tree planting, fruit and vegetable cultivation and recycling schemes. They also won the inaugural 3M Smart Earth Challenge for their designs for living walls created from recycled containers. Although led by Mr Knight (head of ecology) it is the children who deserve the recognition for their continued hard work and ingenuity.'
UTC Reading Jonathan Nicholls (Principal)
From the nominator: ' Inspiring the next generation ofeEngineers is a prime objective at UTC Reading and one that they undertake in conjunction with their many industry partners.
You may remember seeing one of their students, Oliver, on the television with his heroic exploits during the first lockdown. Armed with a few cheaply purchased 3D printers, he went into full scale production of face masks for the NHS. He really is an astounding individual who is an inspiration to us all in these difficult times.
Oliver said: "Just before we broke up for Christmas, I purchased a CNC machine and since then I have been learning my way around it and the world of cad and designing parts for easy machining. Having had a 3D printer for so long helps with the design but it's still a learning curve. I have made loads of parts on the CNC both out of aluminium and wood (I am planning Delrin for the enclosure but waiting on shipping for that). I have also completed the 1.8kwh battery boasting some impressive specs. It is a 42Ah 50.4v (37v nominal) lithium battery, it will push 450a burst and just over 300a constant (that's around 22kw burst depending on soc voltage). I built this pack completely from scratch using a spot-welder for the connections. The enclosure for the pack isn't 100% done but I have some mock-ups in wood and the 99% finished cad model. Now I'm just waiting for the Delrin to arrive before making the final part."
His efforts were acknowledged by National Grid ESO, when, in recognition for his response to help the NHS staff, they kindly donated a substantial sum of money to the UTC to purchase a laser cutter. This is being put to good use as it cuts parts for the current cohort of engineers, improving college facilities, as well as parts for Design and Architecture courses.
As well as giving students the skills to get ahead, UTC Reading also spend an incredible amount of time highlighting why ‘our differences are what make us unique and it’s ok to embrace them’. This is a continual message from UTC Reading’s SEN department.
The team constantly strive to support its students in a compassionate and flexible way, helping them to thrive in education unhindered by unfair disadvantage. And SEN staff are keen to point out to those students that while living with neurodivergent conditions can bring difficulties, it’s ok to be different and they’re not alone. UTC Reading recently celebrated Neurodiversity Week, with a series of wonderful umbrella and rainbow decorations carrying important messages about neurodiversity.
They also distributed wristbands for students and staff to write what was different about them on. The week culminated in a Neurodiversity Panel Event, with six speakers with neurodivergent conditions, who spoke about their experiences in education and work, and how they have learnt to make the most out of what makes them different. In short, this school goes above and beyond for its students - to ensure they are supported with their wellbeing as best they can, but also shaping these amazing students to be the best versions of themselves.'
local hero SPONSORED BY green park
From the nominator: 'Bruno Guerreiro is the site controller at St Michael's Primary school. For a long time he has gone above and beyond what a normal site controller does. Through the current lockdown he has come in every day to open and close the school. Then through the day he has recycled old tires, wood, plastic and anything he can find to create so many amazing things to help our children. These are a few of them: a mud kitchen, maths shed, a well out of tires for role playing, outside reading area, benches, scooter park, play hut/shed, an angry birds catapult and many many more. He does all these things to such a high standard and never asks for a thank you at all. He quietly comes in, solves problems and mends broken things. Not only does he make the lives of the adults here so much easier but he make life at school so much fun and exciting for the children. He has made a big impact here and I would love for him to get the recognition he deserves. He is our unsung hero.'
From the nominator: 'Kate Hodges is the most unselfish you well ever meet , she put everyone first during the Coronavirus She collected For the Royal Berks Hospital, She collected people and took them to the doctor, Collecting donations and delivering the he Hospital she worked at a garden centre cleaning baskets and monitoring people in the shop She is a senior person in the Local Rotary club raising money for local charities, She is a single mum but still finds time for her charity work Apart from every thing above she is a very nice and kind person and she goes the extra mile So can I request that she be considered for a Pride of Reading Award.'
From the nominator: 'I’ve known of Adrian since his work running the bike kitchen where he provided low cost and free of charge to the needy assistance to those in need of transport and bike repairs. He has since led the work with Reading refugees, supporting large groups of international diasporas integrate and receive ongoing support. Most recently a mutual friend mentioned to me that Adrian was raising money for a local refugee family that had not a penny to their name - with a target of raising £250 and now with a total near £1000. A true community hero!!!'
From the nominator: 'Our children have been utter troupers through all of this virus and have missed out on huge pieces of their childhoods whether it be a hug from Grandma and Grandpa, a kick about in the park with friends not to mentioned their education and let’s face it when we all went into lockdown in March I believe most of us thought we would be back to normal by now but no it’s almost Halloween and now we are telling our kids quite rightly that we can’t take them trick or treating due to Covid and there lies our local hero.
Shelly Mailer has brought Tilehurst together with a pumpkin and scarecrow hunt and our children now have over 200 displays to go and look at in an around Tilehurst but this isn’t just it there are prizes that Shelly has had donated for best scarecrows. What started off as something small has become huge and brought our community together and made so many of us smile and Shelly has never said it’s too big or too much to organise. I thank you Shelly from the bottom of my heart as do so many families in Tilehurst we had so much fun making our scarecrow and going out as a family to look at all the others.'
Buddy (Mashiur Rahman Buddy) Owner of the Hatchgate /Burghfield Spices
From the nominator: 'Buddy has been amazing during this pandemic. He has continued to offer the most amazing food for delivery which also included a free toilet roll at the beginning! He has extended a 25% discount for locals for his own eat out to help out. He delivered 500 free meals to staff working at Prospect Park Hospital and Royal Berkshire Hospital. This month he has announced he will be offering a free lunch bag to any local school child entitled to free school dinners through this half term. He really does care about his community and deserves recognition for it :)'
From the nominator: 'Ronnie has always been one of the good guys. This year he has really come into his own as the spirit of the Facebook volunteer group: Woodley Volunteers for Covid 19. He has inspired and encouraged so many Woodley residents to make an important difference to their neighbours' lives and wellbeing this year. He has spearheaded many projects and inspired and encouraged other people in Woodley to make them happen. The most recent is the the Christmas Treat drive and the cupcakes for carers idea. Woodley would not be the same if he ever stopped. Mrs Goodberry deserves a medal too. Her home and garden have become the Covid response central this year and her quiet support is also essential.'
Sarah Jayne Murphy
From the nominator: 'Sarah Jayne created something in October 2019 which has changed and made such a positive impact on hundreds of families in Reading and I would love to tell you why I think she should win a Pride of Reading award.
Sarah was furloughed from her busy job in the summer of last year and she used her spare time to give back to the community and created the vital initiative - Free Meals, Full Hearts - Reading (https://www.facebook.com/groups/2706075086275717).
She built a non-profit scheme so that those with extra food or a extra hot meal or two could donate to those going without. It's a huge job but as it's evolved, she's taken it in her stride and has helped literally hundreds in a few short months.
Whether that be by advertising for donations, collecting and allocating them and delivering donations, to creating a social awareness through the Facebook group and via radio and newspaper interviews to crowdfunding for supplies - Sarah hasn't stopped.
Over the Christmas period she bought or sourced 60 christmas hampers so families could have a incredible Christmas day complete with turkey, ham, crackers, pudding, chocolates - everything you could wish for.
I married my wife because she is so kind hearted and always gives everything she did 100% but since she created Free Meals, Full Hearts I'm in utter awe of her compassion and drive to help people she's never met in our community. And by how successful it's been, it only goes to prove how vital the service has become... I would love to see her efforts and hardwork recognised - she does all of this and doesn't expect a thank you but I personally think she deserves one. Please consider Sarah Jayne - she is Reading's very own Mrs Marcus Rashford'
PC James Packman, Sgt Iain Watkinson, PC Liam Steele and PC Liam King
From Meridian TV and nominator: Four Thames Valley Police officers who chased, tackled and arrested a marauding terrorist who murdered three people in a frenzied knife attack in Reading have won a Thames Valley Police Federation Bravery Award.
PC James Packman, Sgt Iain Watkinson, PC Liam Steele and PC Liam King all displayed quick thinking and incredible courage when they apprehended knife-wielding Khairi Saadallah after he stabbed six people – three of whom died – in Forbury Gardens in June 2020.
Their superb actions will now be celebrated alongside those of 10 other colleagues at the prestigious Annual Bravery Awards in September.
PC Packham, who had only been an officer for two years, was off duty and enjoying a summer evening in Forbury Gardens with friends when he witnessed from afar the horrific stabbings. Without a thought, he ran after the attacker.
He said: “I was sitting on the grass, facing towards where the victims were and I don’t know what got my attention first, I think it was a scream. I looked up and there was the suspect and he was going around the group who were sitting on the floor, stabbing them. I shouted ‘Knife!’”
The attacker ran off. PC Packham kept his eyes on the suspect while he called the police, then ran after him, out of the park. He was still describing Saadalah and his whereabouts in detail as he ran after him, despite having no protective equipment on him.
His precise instructions allowed nearby, unarmed uniformed response officers PC Steele, PC King, and Sgt Watkinson, to make their way by car to the top of Friar Street. They saw Saadalah running towards them, and despite not knowing if he was still armed, got out of their cars, chased him, rugby tackled him to the floor, restrained and arrested him.
PC Steele said: “En route we started getting all the information that it was multiple people being stabbed… as we were coming down Friar Street I saw the suspect running down the road with blood covered all over his hands.”
PC Steele recalls the rugby tackle and how the team made sure the terrorist “was controlled as best as we could while bringing him down to the floor.”
PC Packham said that despite his lack of protection and the danger of the situation, “adrenaline took over”.
He said: “I just did what I thought was best to do at the time. I don’t know if I believed it. My first thought was just to keep an eye on him and make sure he doesn’t get away. Obviously I didn’t know the extent of the injuries of the victims at that point.”
PC Packham concluded: “I felt very honoured when I got the email saying that I’d been nominated for the Bravery Awards - and I’m very glad some of the other officers involved got recognition as well”
The quartet also wanted to pay tribute to the many Thames Valley colleagues who worked that night – including those who administered first aid to the victims – and the detectives who brought the attacker to justice.
Craig O’Leary, Chairman of Thames Valley Police Federation, said: “The phrase ‘hero’ is often bandied about far too easily. But this fabulous four officers are just that. Complete and utter heroes. This man was a terrorist. These officers were unarmed and stopped him in his tracks before he could cause anyone else any harm.
“The actions of James – who let’s not forget was off duty – Iain and the two Liams were exemplary and in the highest standards and traditions of the British police service. They acted selflessly and with immense bravery in order to protect the public from the possibility of further attacks. We could not be prouder of them.”
Craig concluded: “Our thoughts remain with all those who were injured in this terrorist attack and the families of those killed in this devastating incident.”
PC Packman, Sgt Watkinson, PC Steele and PC King will attend an Awards Ceremony in the Thames Valley Policing area on 9 September, where the overall winner of the Thames Valley Police Federation Bravery Awards will be announced.
The awards are in association with JRM Mortgage Solutions. The hashtag for the event is #TVPFedBravery.Khairi Saadallah pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey to three counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder in November 2020. The judge determined that the attack was conducted for a terrorist purpose, sentencing Saadalah to a whole life tariff without eligibility for parole for each count of murder, and 24 years’ imprisonment for each count of attempted murder.
CULTURAL CONTRIBUTION SPONSORED BY M&G REAL ESTATE
Paul Stacey of Reading Rep Theatre
From the nominator: 'Paul Stacey began dreaming of a new theatre for Reading many years ago. After a lot of hard work and persistence he finally raised enough money to convert a hall on the site of Reading College into a state-of-the-art theatre. Despite covid hitting heir plans, the company has carried on with the build, still maintaining links with the community and running online and socially distanced classes. Meanwhile they got together with a large group to stream small plays - these were also available down the phone for those with no access to online. It's this spirit that makes Reading Rep and Paul unique.'
Anna, Mary and the whole team at County Dance
From the nominator: 'I would like to nominate everyone at County Dance , St Giles Hall Southampton Street Reading, for the Cultural Contribution award in this year's Pride of Reading.
County has been teaching the people of Reading and beyond to dance for over 60 years. It quietly sits in a hall on the way in to town and when I first went in a few years ago I remember feeling like I'd found the Reading I grew up in again.
There were no fancy interiors, just really friendly people and a great cup of tea. Over the years I have been taking my daughter to the Saturday morning sessions, watching everyone enjoy the dancing so much and how the teachers are calm and patient, instilling the love of dancing in to the kids with fun and humour. It is mine and my daughters' favourite part of the week.
Then suddenly it was gone, the first lockdown meant that dance studios couldn't operate and how would anyone even be able to come back when dancing involves being so close to other people. But they have done it, we went back and although I wasn't allowed to watch, I was over the moon that this was possible.
This along with Anna's brilliant YouTube videos really showed that they went the extra mile. I think that what the lockdowns have taught me is that you realise what you miss. I didn't miss the big things, but I did miss the very simple pleasure of watching people learn how to dance and the music and the fun. County is a Reading institution and should be celebrated as such, they touch so many peoples lives, young and old.
We may never all become brilliant dancers, although some do and they are incredible, but the amazing thing about County is that they allow everyone to try.'
From the nominator: 'African dance band Limpopo Groove bring sublime Zimbawean rhythms to Reading, courtesy of their drummer, composer and singer, Thomson, supported by a starry array of local talented musicians. They create exciting new music and can always be relied on to support local good causes and campaigns. These have included the Reading Refugee Support Group, Environmental Campaigns and most recently they provided theme music for a presentation on glaciers at the Reading Climate Festival. Without doubt, in a town that is blessed with musical talent they standout as a cultural highlight and mainstay.'
Dance Reading- Liz Allum & Danielle Corbishley
From the nominator: 'Dance Reading put together a wonderful dance festival in the second lockdown which meant we could all appreciate dance performances and workshops from the comfort of our own homes. It was so amazing and great to see so many local dance schools being able to have the opportunity to perform again. They do so much for the dance community in Reading which is massive they really do deserve a reward for all.'
Reading Climate Festival
From the nominator: ' It was great to see such a wide range of online events taking place to inspire action on climate change. I attended several of the events and was really impressed by the range of information available on everything from electric cars to diet. The level of support from organisations in the town was really impressive, with well-informed speakers from credible groups offering their expertise about how to reduce environmental impacts. There were also events about wildlife, trees and rivers and an evening of music and discussion about climate change and how we feel about it. I gather the festival was put together entirely by volunteers from Reading Climate Change Partnership and with about 50 events over 7 days it was a really significant achievement. I was really happy to see our town developing such an innovative approach to increasing awareness of climate change and what to do about it, and I'd love to see it become an annual event.'
Preston Benson, Founder of Really Local Group - Reading Biscuit Factory
Last February, pioneering high street regeneration developer and operator Really Local Group, signed a deal with Moorgarth, owners of Reading’s Broad Street Mall, to deliver on a long-held ambition to re-imagine the centre. After nearly four years and three lockdowns, the Really Local Group has opened its doors to the Reading Biscuit Factory, a new community hub for Reading’s Broad Street Mall.
A former Argos store, the 14,000 sq ft multi-use venue is home to: a three-screen independent cinema and event space, bar, food kiosks, coffee shop, live performance space and community hub. Designed by Wren Architecture the space, which was once a dark box space, has been repurposed and reshaped into a bright welcoming social and community hotspot - an injection of positivity for a post pandemic future all about gathering, meeting, entertainment and creativity. Reading Biscuit Factory is open from 09:00 each day for those who want to meet over a cup of coffee. The first film screenings usually start from around 11:00, and the last around 20:30. The venue generally closes at 23:30, unless there is a special event (or a very long final film!).
To kickstart the cinema programme, Reading Biscuit Factory screened a range of blockbusters and award-winning independent titles - “films that people will generally have to travel to London to see” - including Nomadland, Summer of Soul, Limbo, Another Round, I Never Cry and Deerskin. Reading Biscuit Factory also plays host to a range of special events including NT Live, ballet and opera screenings, a locally-run comedy club and much more. As an example, several meetings/talks/events will take place next week (week commencing 24th September) at Reading Biscuit Factory as part of a local festival aimed at raising awareness about climate change. Other examples include: a screening and Q&A with the cast and crew of THE REASON I JUMP on Sunday 10th October - the funds raised by this event will support the work of local charity, Stepping Forward, which works to facilitate and accelerate access to essential services, information, resources and life opportunities so that all people affected by disability can live a full life.
On Thursday 23rd September and Thursday 28th October, a wine tasting event will take place at Reading Biscuit Factory with local business, Berks Fizz. Reading Biscuit Factory’s membership offers a number of perks including three free cinema tickets throughout the year, peak-time tickets at off-peak prices, 10% off food and drinks in the venue, no booking fees and a three month free trial with MUBI (screening service). Reading Biscuit Factory’s spaces and cinema screens are also available for private hire.
The launch of the Reading Biscuit Factory marks the second venue opening from Really Local Group. Founded in 2017, developer and operator Really Local Group creates and restores cultural infrastructure by ‘putting the heart back into the high street’. With a successful template for social impact established in Catford Mews, Lewisham, South-east London, Really Local Group's status as the leading trailblazer in high street regeneration has led to an influx of developers and local councils approaching them to help reinvigorate and renew underserved areas across the UK. Really Local Group's projects are "In the Community. For the Community." and are uniquely designed to embrace the culture of the surrounding area, sensitively responding to the local demographic's needs and aspirations. All venues are designed to provide affordable and inclusive cultural community 'hubs', ultimately acting as a catalyst for the wider generation of the local area. Reading’s community were asked to help select the name of the venue, a testament to Really Local Group’s commitment to genuine community engagement. Consultation is at the heart of their venue portfolio.
What’s all this about biscuits? Joseph Huntley was selling biscuits to travellers making the journey from Reading to Bath or London as early as 1822; he invented the biscuit tin to help prevent breakages on the journey. Joseph Huntley’s small bakery eventually grew into Huntley & Palmers, the largest employer in Reading, and by 1900 it was the world’s largest biscuit company. The vast factory earned Reading the appropriate nickname of the “Biscuit Town”. There will be something for everyone at Reading Biscuit Factory!'
From the nominator (more nominations received) : His constant and unshakeable dedication to his life goal of making a difference to the lives of all children from all walks of life. His charisma and dedication is simply amazing and inspiring. An example of this includes Chatroom, the Performance Lab and the Abbey 900.
CHILD OF COURAGE SPONSORED BY IQVIA
Katherine & Sam Ebrey
From the nominator: 'Katherine and Sam are two young people (9 and 6) who have work tiresomely throughout lockdown and beyond to make and sell Jam outside their home to raise money to buy food which is then donated to the local food bank. They source their fruits to make the jam locally and all of their profits go to the food bank. At such a young age it’s inspirational to see them so dedicated to their community and willingness to help others. Their selflessness has made such a difference to so many in what is such a troubling time.'
From the nominator: 'I think you just need to Google #cheerupcharlie youngest anti bullying ambassador working in the country with his own campaign. Works with Diana Award and now speaks all over plus just released a charity single. This comes after getting bullied for over 18 months for his love of musicals and dance. He decided to make a stand and start a campaign.'
FROM THE WOKINGHAM TIMES
An Arborfield schoolboy bullied for his love of musical theatre has won the hearts of the nation with his anti-bullying campaign, #CheerUpCharlie.
Ten-year-old Charlie Kristensen, who was targeted for his love of singing and dancing, went viral last year as leading West End stars united to give him the boost he needed.
The online attention responded to a tweet from Charlie’s music teacher Jacqueline Hughes who used her platform to request help from her friends in the Arts.
Ms Hughes wrote: “I know many people face bullies every day and many have in their lifetime. But I wondered if you wouldn’t mind, if you have time sending me a little video to cheer him up, maybe some advice, your own stories, how you didn’t let them stop you, what you are doing now.”
In the days following his teacher’s tweet, Charlie received heartfelt messages and videos of support from performers in shows including Wicked, The Lion King and Aladdin.
And it was this new wave of love and encouragement that convinced Charlie to transform his experiences of bullying into a campaign which would help other children like him.
Charlie said: “I was bullied really badly at school for doing something I love. I was called names and hurt just because I’m a boy and I like to dance. I didn’t fit the stereotype the bullies wanted me to.”
“I was very close to giving up on my dream but when I received the messages from the West End stars I realised that I was much more important than the bullies’ opinions of me.”
“One day I recorded a video of me performing in my shed and before I knew it I had 300,000 views.
“From then on I fell back in love with performing and took my videos to the next level.”
Since creating his first video, Charlie has launched his own YouTube account which currently has 2.43K subscribers.
And the latest addition to his channel is the Musical Chairs with #CheerUpCharlie show which the young star has been working on during lockdown with the help of London’s Theatre Café.
Charlie explained: “In each video I interview a different actor, musician or artist about their lives, performing background and experiences of bullying.
“The aim of the show is to share unknown, unheard and unlistened to stories.
“I really enjoy the video calls because I get to dig deep into the stars’ pasts.
“Before each interview I do my research and then ask them a big range of questions- some serious, some not so serious.”
“My favourite question to ask is what their most disgusting habit is. Nathan Wyburn finds picking his nose therapeutic.”
Guests in Charlie’s Musical Chairs line-up have included Kerry Ellis, Michael Xavier, Nathaniel Morrison and Will Poulter among others.
The enthusiastic youngster has also performed a duet with Matt Lucas to the hugely popular Baked Potato Song and chatted with Michael Ball during an interview on BBC Breakfast.
Charlie added: “The stars are like my family. The theatre is my tribe. It’s where I belong.”
And as well as performing to the camera, Charlie has taken to big stages to share his journey and encourage others to stand up to bullying.
In November last year Charlie reduced an audience of 5,000 people to tears with a speech he performed at the Diana Awards held at London’s Alexandra Palace.
Charlie, who is the youngest ambassador for the programme, said: “It was a nerve-racking but amazing experience.
“I was shocked to discover that 75% of audience members had been victims of bullying so I was really determined to share my story and help them in any way that I could.”
The keen campaigner is also planning a West End charity concert in Convent Garden when gatherings of the type are allowed.
And adding to his list of achievements, Charlie is now using his platform to request the Prime Minister’s help with saving UK theatres.
He said: “I wrote a letter to Boris Johnson because I can’t imagine a future without entertainment or theatres.
“Going to the theatre makes me feel alive and I just love it too much to see it go.
“I could see six shows everyday for a week and I would never get bored.
“Every time I see a show it is different and makes me see the story in a new way.
“The feeling you get when watching a show live at the theatre is something you just don’t get with films or TV.
“There’s no second take at the theatre. Once the actors are on stage it’s their chance to shine.”
And while the youngster’s stardom has seen his production crew grow behind the scenes, one member of his team has given him love and support from the start.
Charlie’s mum Kat said: “I’m so unbelievably proud of Charlie. Looking back at the position he was in this time last year, I could never have predicted he would grow this much as a person, especially after all that he’s been through.”
“He has only just turned 10 yet is doing things not even adults would have the confidence to do.”
“Every speech and interview he does is 100% his own hard work.
“I am amazed that such a little boy has so much spirit, determination and courage inside of him.
“Stars from across the country may have taken him under their wing, but I will always be his mum. I’m so proud of him and what he has achieved.”
Charlie’s future plans include performing on the West End and Broadway, presenting, and continuing his role as an anti-bullying campaigner.
In the meantime, and until theatres open, Charlie will continue to host his YouTube shows and reply to emails from children, who like him, have been bullied and need some help.'
Reece Mcintyre, 14
From the nominator: ' I would like to nominate my son for Child of Courage. . Born with quadriplegic asymmetric spastic cerebral palsy, Reece has had a difficult few years not only being isolated because of the pandemic but had to be isolated to his bed for around 6 months because he couldn't manage sitting in his wheelchair due to excruciating pain.
Reece developed scoliosis and a dislocated and disintegrated hip. Unfortunately at the same time. The hip was very bad and causing him endless pain and despite all the pain relief and therapy we gave him. The doctors decided he needed the hip operation first. On April the 6th Reece went into surgery to have his hip operation and needed to be in a brace to help fix the thigh bone and socket together. Reece came out of surgery and done so well , he was allowed home after just 5 days. He was then to have 6 week recovering.
Unfortunately just like previous operations Reece developed an infection and ended back into the JR hospital. Reece was seen promptly and the doctors took his brace straight off as he had blisters and bed sores all over his back and the top of his bottom.
Reece ended up being in hospital from the 27th of April to the 5th of June. Bed hoping between HDU and wards following an infection in his groin having 11 operations to heal and fix his wounds, picc lines , Hickman lines , vacuum suction pumps, canulars , endless antibiotics and having a secondary infection while staying in hospital . Now that's courageous!!
He's developed a bit on anxiety and depression over the past 18 months and who could blame him. Although his hip is getting stronger and no more pain , he still has his spinal operation and baclofen pump operations in the near future. In which both carry risks of infection due to Reeces body neglecting foreign objects. He still has daily pain in his back but he doesn't let pain hold him back. He is determined and always carries a smile on his face . He worries about everyone but himself. He is a warrior and I am proud . That's the short story .Thankyou for reading.'
THE CHRIS TARRANT AWARD SPONSORED BY THE ORACLE
From the nominator: 'When we first went into lockdown it was a really uncertain time for expectant mums, with no idea how the virus might affect them or their unborn child, and all of a sudden most of their support networks vanished overnight. Rachel Greenwood, who was pregnant herself at the time, set up a group for mums to be in Reading, that has grown hugely to nearly 700 members and counting, and now includes those who have had their babies. It has been an invaluable source of peer support, with everyone sharing their knowledge, providing reassurance and comfort to those who need it, gifting maternity and baby items that are no longer needed and organising social events, both virtual and in person, over the year. I have made several friends through the group, and was inspired through it to volunteer for the NCT, and know that my pregnancy and now maternity leave would have been a much darker, lonelier experience if it wasn’t for the group that Rachel created and spends so much time managing. Thank you so much Rachel!'
From the nominator: 'Jaxs was a musical performer before lockdown. And back at the start of the year was doing signing lesson in her spare time. One day one of students Charlie came and Jaxs could see he was not himself. She asked if he was OK. He got very upset and said he was been bullied at school because of love for singing and dancing. The bullying got to point where Charlie had been physically hurt. So Jaxs reached out on Twitter for some of her West End friends to send a little message of support for Charlie. Then the snowball happened as it went global. They now have a single out https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sKRI3k8AYxc Charlie is now part of the Diana awards and Jaxs has been there in the sidelines the whole way to support Charlie and his parents. She has helped the vision to let children know it is cool to sing and dance and there are family out there that support you. There is a #cheerupcharlie that jaxs set up. Jaxs has never asked for any thing and has always made sure that Charlie and all the kids she teaches come first. We are all very proud and hope the word spreads.'
From the nominator: "Claire is an inspiration to everyone, and widely liked by everyone who meets her. When she's not at work (at the police recuperation home in Goring) she runs a small business, cleaning - mainly for older people. She goes far beyond her duties (with no financial compensation) by organising stuff for them, going shopping for them, and generally sorting their lives out.
She also raises money through stuff like pop-up art cafes to pay for an ice cream van to go to the Duchess of Kent Hospice in Liebenrood Road. She's always smiling and has a great sense of humour. But it's her willingness to help others that makes her stand out - and a world of Claire Maslens would be a happier place! She thoroughly deserves this award for just be willing to help anyone."
Dr William Bird
From the nominator: "I'm nominating William because he is an exceptional person who has done a lot not just for Reading, but for the country.
He is an out of hours doctor based at the Royal Berkshire who covered shifts during the peak(s) of the Covid crisis, assessing people who came into the hospital and like so many NHS staff, putting himself in harm's way on the frontline.
As well as his work as a GP, during working hours, he is the founder of Intelligent Health and its Beat the Street campaigns which take place all over the UK. When the strictest lockdown restrictions were announced, it became clear that we would have to bring the games to an end (two in Scotland, one in Blaby, Leicestershire and one in Chesterfield in Derbyshire.)
Right from the beginning, it became clear to William, that encouraging people to stay active, despite being in lockdown was going to help ease the pressure on ICU beds. The fitter you are, the better your chances against COVID. Instead of shutting Intelligent Health down, we temporarily switched from Beat the STreet to Beat the Bug. We had a 33,000+ strong database of newsletter subscribers, so William and the team, created activities to get people active, connected, to ease loneliness, to do good for their communities and to stay positive. We sourced local info, online workouts, nature activities, together with WIlliam's Facebook live Q and A sessions, William's blog, videos on Covid and what you could do to stay well.
He also made himself available to speak regularly on the radio and TV to keep people informed of Covid developments and was invited onto BBC Breakfast to reassure people. While he wanted to help everyone, Reading is the spiritual home of Beat the Street, and I wanted to nominate William as so many people have been positively influenced by him, perhaps without him knowing. We receive emails and feedback every day from people thanking him for helping them lose weight, get motivated and getting them through lockdown.
When lockdown eased, he didn't give up on Beat the Street, and we worked hard to run a Covid safe version of the game which took place in Scotland and Eastbourne. The Beat Boxes and cards were adapted to ensure that they would respond without being touched, and the game was amended so that people could still take part, proving a lifeline for many during these past few months.
Many people who might have sat on the sofa watching boxsets (me included!) were inspired to take responsibility and to get active. Many got out into green spaces and enjoyed nature. On top of positively influencing many people's lives, he is always cheerful and reassuring and a pleasure to be around. I have nominated him in previous years, so I hope it's ok to do so again, but I really feel this would help him realise how much good he is doing."
Sue Ryder Duchess of Kent Hospice in Reading
From the nominator: 'The COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on us, and we believe every single member of staff deserves special recognition for the bravery, resilience and extraordinary commitment they have shown during these most unprecedented times. We know that our staff always put their patients above everything else, but this has never been clearer than during this year.
Particularly during the difficult early months of the outbreak, staff regularly worked much longer hours and took on extra shifts to cover challenging periods of colleague sickness and self-isolation, and when agency staff became scarce. All while dealing with the blistering heat of the summer in plastic personal protective equipment (PPE), which left them physically and mentally drained.
Despite this, they pulled together and carried on through the hardest of times. One of the biggest challenges we faced during this time was getting a consistent supply of adequate PPE, as stock levels were so low and most supplies were being directed to the NHS. At times we only had enough PPE to last a few days and this caused a great deal of extra stress and anxiety as staff wanted to keep their patients safe but also protect themselves and their families at home.
When some other local community services felt unable to provide home support, Sue Ryder Nurses, Doctors and Therapists in our community teams went the extra mile to help patients to stay at home if that was their choice and provided extra telephone support for those who were lonely and isolated. As a result, workloads increased and they worked well beyond their usual hours.
For patients and families the pandemic has brought unimaginable new challenges and anxieties, which has led to an increase in the need for counselling, spiritual and social support from our Family Support Team. Our Hospice Chaplain said: “For some people not being able to have the funeral they want for a loved one has brought a huge amount of distress. It’s part of the grieving process and if you take that away there’s a big hole left. The bereavement support we have to give now is even more complex.”
Our exceptional volunteer teams were also excluded from being able to carry out their roles in order to protect patients and themselves. Many of them chose to take on virtual roles as telephone befrienders or spent hours making scrubs and masks for our healthcare staff. We recently had one patient who had no friends or family here in the UK and on his birthday our volunteers sent him cards, presents and cakes. He said he’d never had so many presents in all of his life and felt incredibly loved. Despite the many challenges they have faced in 2020, our Sue Ryder Nurses and doctors, as well as the incredible behind-the-scenes teams, have worked so hard with little respite to ensure our patients and their loved ones have been able to continue to get the specialist care and support they need.
One relative commented: “Dad was an inpatient at the hospice for a week in the middle of the pandemic. They looked after my Dad so well and supported my mum. Unfortunately we couldn’t go in and see him but we are so grateful that mum was able to be there at the end.” Another family member said: “A huge thank you to you superheroes that are carrying on despite all the odds to provide the best possible care to those who need it the most. My Mum was so well looked after by the team at Sue Ryder Duchess of Kent Hospice. I will be eternally grateful for their kindness, professionalism and care.”
We are exceedingly proud of the entire team at Sue Ryder Duchess of Kent Hospice, Wokingham and Newbury and they thoroughly deserve to be recognised for the outstanding contribution they have made to the Reading community during this most difficult of years. This is a joint nomination by Maria Turnbull, Hospice Director and Georgie Sullivan, Deputy Hospice Director.'
Berkshire birthday buddies, Berkshire helper elves - Amy Barnett
From the nominator: Amy Barnett has been amazing for the past 2 years she has been getting the community to try and help families in need. She set up the charity with one other where she would post the name and age of the child along with an Amazon list for you to purchase a gift for that child for their birthday which would be sent directly to them. The Berkshire helper elves was where she would ask anyone to become an elf and buy gifts for a child/family and arrange for them to be delivered. Amy is an asset to the community and I believe along with many others feel she should be recognised for the way she has helped soo many family's over the past 2 years.'
From the nominator: 'Amanda has gone above and beyond whilst in lockdown. She is a school first aider at Highdown School & Sixth form centre. She has worked through all of the lockdowns, she has helped so many adults and children when in need. And has saved lives including the pupils and even the teachers, even when she doesnt realise so. She deserves this award so much, she has lifted so many spirits during this unprecedented time. I feel she really deserves this appreciation.'
FUNDRAISER OF THE YEAR SPONSORED BY CREAM DESIGN
From the nominator:'I would like to nominate my 8 year old nephew Dexter for fundraiser of the year. He has raised over £2000 for the Royal Berkshire Hospital since the lockdowns began. At the beginning of the first lockdown he created a quiz for his friends and classmates to do to help entertain them as everyone was struggling. The answers to the quiz spelt out ‘we love our nhs’. He was then inspired by Captain Sir Tom Moore, and decided he wanted to run a marathon to help raise some more money.
He ran the distance of a marathon over 10 days and raised a total of £1256. With Captain Toms recent passing Dexter decided he wanted to honour his memory and run another marathon. This time he ran the 26.2 miles over 7 days, it was during the week of snow and freezing temperatures but this didn’t deter him he got up each morning to run to ensure that he completed it within the 7 days and always had a big smile on his face. His current fundraising total for this is £1005.00. What is even more amazing about Dexter running a marathon is when he was 4 years old he broke his Femur at a trampoline park and spent a month in the Royal Berkshire Hospital whilst it repaired itself. When he left hospital to recover at home, he had to build his confidence all over again and I remember watching Dexter learn to walk again, he is simply one amazing boy.
He is such a kind and giving boy and is always trying to help others. He has decided that he would like to continue his fundraising efforts and cycle the distance of lands end to john o’groats through March and April to continue to raise money as he would like to reach £10,000 by the end of the year. He says when the world feels scary and sad he wants to try and do something positive to help others and make people happy again. He is really inspiring and even trying to get his classmates involved by challenging them to complete a mile a day between now and there return to school. We are really proud of him for encouraging people to be more thoughtful, bringing people together for a common good and supporting such a wonderful cause.'
From the nominator: 'Despite being told that his kidneys had now reached the point at which failure had become more imminent; Sam decided to give up his job and try and raise £20,000 for his charity Alport UK. He cycled round Europe and got as far as Albania before lockdown occurred and he somehow managed to get home. Then when lockdown was eased he managed to cycle from Land's End to John O' Groats to complete the journey. The £20,000 was reached about a week after arriving home from Scotland. Sam suffers from a disease called Alport Syndrome where the kidneys slowly stop working all together. As a professional film maker he's also documented the journey throughout with some amazing shots and film work. He also skydived in as many cities as he could along the way. The money raised is being used by Alport UK for their 'Don't Wait Fund' which is helping young people participate in activities which would normally be beyond their reach, thus helping them to improve their mental health whilst living with the illness. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQJsO-IW8UvINcqHZU5qXAg'
From the nominator: 'Paul not only volunteers his time as a reading mentor with charity, ABC to Read to children who have fallen behind with their literacy and education but he is also a volunteer fundraiser.
The charity lost all of their contributions during the pandemic due to not being active however they adapted some of their services meaning that Paul worked tirelessly completing grant applications and bids ensuring that the charity are well positioned to continue their vital service in ensuring children are able to gain a life skill. What was going to be a huge deficit for the charity now means they have broken even and are able to continue their work which is needed more than ever.'
Dr Raja Natarajan
From the nominator: Dr Natarajan is exceptionally deserving of the Pride of Reading Fundraising Award and fulfils the criteria for going above and beyond in the face of the pandemic. Raja is a Consultant Psychiatrist, who works for Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. Concerned by the news of hospitals in India being overwhelmed with patients requiring ICU beds, oxygen, medicines and medical care, he started a crowd-funding project called “Curry for Covid – Hurry to help”.
India has been hit particularly hard by Covid-19. Hospitals were overwhelmed by the first wave of infections in April and the country was then hit by a second wave of Covid-19 in June and July, with confirmed cases at an estimated 32 million and more than 400,000 deaths. But alternative estimates have put excess deaths at 3.4 million to 4.9 million. Covid-19 had such a deadly impact in India for a number of reasons, including a lack of reliable oxygen supplies and the delta variant being nearly twice as transmissible as the original strain of the virus. A third wave of infections is expected in October, which is predicted to peak at 100,000 to 150,000 infections a day.
With Indian hospitals full, the initial aim of Raja’s fundraising was to support as many mild-moderately unwell people as possible to self-quarantine with the necessary medical and food supplies to help stop the spread of the disease and ease the pressure on ICU beds. He has now extended his support to hospitals in India by using the donations he has raised to send vital PPE. To raise funds Raja has been cooking curry with rice, from his grandmother’s special recipe, and delivering it to NHS staff working in Berkshire Healthcare’s hospital sites.
This was a great boost to local frontline staff working exceptionally hard in the face of the pandemic and provided the opportunity for Berkshire Healthcare staff to make a difference and do something positive in the face of the harrowing images coming out of India of bodies stacking up and people going without treatment. So far, Raja has raised nearly £19,000 in donations. But his ongoing support for Indian hospitals struggling to meet the needs of patients suffering from Covid-19, doesn’t stop there.
With strong connections with clinicians in India, Raja is sharing the learning from his experiences of working in the UK during the pandemic to help Indian medical trusts develop the most effective approaches to treating patients with Covid-19. His work is without question helping to save lives. To find out more about Raja’s campaign please visit his Just Giving page: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/helpcovidrecoveryindia?utm_term=md6Ab8ZMV