Home Columnists THE GIVING MACHINE: Community Heroes

THE GIVING MACHINE: Community Heroes

OVER the last couple of years, TheGivingMachine has run a national community hero competition. We’ve asked our many thousands of users to nominate the amazing people in their communities who make a difference and ask for family and friends to vote for them.

Vicky Williams, a cystic fibrosis nurse working in Wolverhampton, is our winner this year and received hundreds of votes.  “She goes above and beyond for her patients on limited staff has a close connection with the families and gives total support, loves her job and shows it. This Cystic Fibrosis Nurse will look after the children until they reach adulthood. She even came back from retirement to be there for those children and families. She is always looking for ways to help and support the poorly children a very determined and loving individual.” said her nominator.

When Vicky was presented with the award it was brilliant that her family, staff and patients in the ward all came out to give her a massive round of applause.

Like any competition, there has to be a winner but the main purpose is to encourage us all to pause for a moment and consider the often unassuming people that just do what they do but have such a significant positive impact on the people and the world around them. The sharing of the nominees and celebrating their contributions is what it is all about. Some of the nominations are just so brilliant, they say so much more about the people and world around us than I ever could.

Mike Conyers: “I’m nominating my amazing dad, Mike. Blinded at the age of 12 from a cricket accident he is an inspiration to me and my brother and always says if he can achieve things if life with his eyes closed then we can too. He’s completely blind but is a successful physio and charity fundraiser spending his life helping others in both his professional and personal life. He’s just raised £30,000 for local Essex charity SNAP (Special Needs And Parents), a total he has been working towards for several years with challenges including a skydive, climbing Kilimanjaro, and even running the London Marathon.”

Johanna Gill: Johanna is 26 years old and currently works as a marketing and communications officer at St Elizabeth’s Centre in Much Hadham which is a school, college and residential site for children and adults with special needs. Having previously worked for Age UK, she was concerned and heartbroken at how many elderly people suffered from loneliness, so she decided to do something about it. Johanna had the idea of setting up a monthly Sunday lunch club for lonely people aged 65+. She named it the Wellbeloved Club after her Great Grandma. With the support of her mother Gill cooking in the kitchen, numerous volunteers, the club has been a huge success. 52 people came to the first 3 clubs but demand was so high, the club has recently moved to larger premises with over 70 people attending the club at the new venue.”

Lisa Marshall-Nichols: “Lisa began a holiday lunch club in 2013 after she volunteered for the food bank and saw a need to support families in the school holidays. She linked with local schools and invited low-income families from her community to come and enjoy a free hot meal and free fun activities. She approached the food bank for support with food and also links into other communities to set up further clubs. Since then, we have set up 10 FISH  (Food [and Fun] In School Holidays) clubs, seen over 350 different children and served over 6,500 meals! Lisa has given an incredible amount of time and energy to plan, prepare and run every single session of her club, as well as supporting the food bank to set up other clubs and welcome potential club leaders and volunteers both locally and from across the UK who want to plan their own.”

We’ve loved all the nominations and put them together into a yearbook to be enjoyed and shared here.

Often the news we are exposed to is not that uplifting but if we take a bit of time to look, we’ll see just how many brilliant and amazing people there really are! They walk among us – all it takes is a pause in the hustle and bustle sometimes to spot them, appreciate the positive impact they have and to say “thank you”.

Richard Morris

CEO &Founder TheGivingMachine