In the build-up to the Bedford Independent Everyday Heroes Awards, in partnership with The Harpur Trust, we’re taking a closer look at the nominees in each category.
The spotlight today falls on one of the categories added to recognise the incredible efforts made by Bedfordians during the pandemic.
We’re looking at the individuals who have been nominated as Bedford Borough’s Covid Heroes and giving you a short insight into why they deserve the award.
The winners will be announced on 25 March 2021 at 7:30 pm on our website, Facebook Page and YouTube channel.
Covid Hero Award – sponsored by Bedford Independent
Despite having to shield throughout the duration of the pandemic, Anita has never stopped reaching out to the world and used the opportunity to channel her musical talent and raise money for a charity close to her heart, Parkinson’s UK.
Anita recorded several tracks and linked remotely to Bedford-based producer, Ben Garraway to take her musical project forward.
“Anita is too humble to acknowledge it,” said her nominator, “but the fact that Amy Wadge [Grammy award-winning songwriter who penned Ed Sheeran’s Thinking Out Loud] offered her input in one of Anita’s songs, collaborating as pianist and backing singer, is testament to the esteem Anita is held in.”
This track, Best Friends, is downloadable and also features on a 5-track CD that Anita has compiled, with all funds going to her chosen charity.
Before the first lockdown, Craig considered how his own mother would manage if he did not live nearby, and became concerned that there would be many people living in Bedford who would not be able to cope.
He set up the Bedford Kindness Facebook group with the aim to encourage neighbours to look out for each other.
By the end of the first week, a structure was in place with area coordinators acting as team leaders for over 150 volunteers throughout the borough, distributing leaflets to thousands of houses giving them contact details should they need help.
It is estimated that Bedford Kindness volunteers carried out over 1500 activities for people throughout the town.
“Craig is one of the kindest, most generous and most selfless people you will ever meet,” said his nominators. “We both strongly believe that Craig deserves this award for what he has done and continues to do for the community.”
Hannah has been supporting individuals in Bedford for the last 18 years in various voluntary roles and in 2020 she set up Patrick’s Parcels.
Their aim is to support 50 families in working poverty with food support and a Christmas dinner (and gifts) across Bedford and Bedfordshire.
The help does not stop there – they wanted to do more than handouts – they want to help support families get out of food poverty with advice and guidance, employability mentoring, food advice – signposting to services such as mental health, addiction, money management and other barriers in life.
This Christmas, 54 families (over 200 individuals) would not have had a Christmas meal without Hannah and Patrick’s Parcels.
Jaswinder Kumar of the Sri Ravidass Sabha Bedford has been put forward for “his unbelievable dedication to our Bedford community” said his nominator.
He led a team of people to put the community first, delivering 18,000 meals in 103 days during the first lockdown.
These meals helped the vulnerable, self-isolating and those that were struggling to get out to buy food, as well as making deliveries to the hospital staff, district nursing teams and ambulance paramedics.
They also delivered to care homes throughout the town, including but not exclusive to Bedford Charter House and Puttenhoe Residential Home and delivered meals once a week to the homeless who were being looked after in Holiday Inn Express in Bedford.
Jaswinder demonstrated through his leadership amazing selflessness and simply put everyone else’s needs before his. “Jaswinder and his team are a credit to the town.”
The Hownam family nominated Kim Davis for her selflessness and caring nature, looking after their husband/dad/grandad/great-grandad, Eddy Hownam.
Kim first met Eddy when he was transferred to her ward in 2013 after being in ICU due to sepsis. “She is a very special person who took time to get to know him and give him support when he needed it,” said the family.
Eddy was admitted to hospital again in June 2020 and she was once again so kind and helpful to him. He was then taken into ICU and while there tested positive for COVID-19. Two days after the test they said they were turning off the ventilator and the family could not be with him because of COVID rules.
“When we told Kim what was happening she went above and beyond her job and offered to be with him so he wouldn’t die alone with people he didn’t know even though it would be a risk to her potentially catching COVID herself.
She had to ask for special permission and was thankfully granted it because she works at the hospital.” Kim attended Eddy’s funeral and read out some words which meant so much to the family.
Kim is still working with people with COVID, risking her own health to do so and going above and beyond to care for them.
Lucy Felton runs a volunteer community art group called ‘Brushstrokes’ for stroke survivors.
Brushstrokes enables stroke survivors to use a range of materials and create individual and group pieces which promote positive wellbeing and recovery. It also enables stroke survivors to meet new friends, learn new skills and use art as a therapy method.
Lucy used to run Brushstrokes on a Friday afternoon at the Higgins Museum where stroke survivors and carers would attend. All sessions were free, and all art materials were provided.
Unfortunately, since lockdown started, these sessions have had to be cancelled but Lucy has gone to extraordinary measures to continue the service on Zoom. These events and measures have had an incredibly positive effect on participants wellbeing and have ensured that attendees do not feel isolated and are able to connect with others and continue creating Art.
“I would like to nominate Lucy for her hard work, dedication, and kindness and for making such a positive difference in times of hardship,” said her nominator.
During the first Lockdown, Millie set up Bedford Care Packages and worked tirelessly to support vulnerable people with food packages. “This was such an amazing act of kindness during these difficult times,” said Millie’s nominator.
“Sonya Ford has gone above and beyond for the Mile Road community during this difficult time,” said her nominator. Not only does she provide an excellent service in the local convenience store she has also set up a community support group.
Everyone respects Sonya for all the hard work she does and she will go without to make sure someone else does not. When she cannot get something in the shop for a customer she goes elsewhere and picks it up and delivers it.
“Sonya looks after her customers and is the face of our community; she holds together so many. Mile road would be lost without her. She is a booster of spirits and even if she has her own things going on, she never lets it show she keeps strong and supports everyone else!”