Bedford’s everyday heroes were celebrated last week (Thursday) in a glittering event at The Quarry Theatre on St Peter’s Street in recognition of everything they do to make our borough a great place to live, work and play.
For the third year in a row, the Bedford Independent Everyday Heroes Awards, in partnership with The Harpur Trust, celebrated the people and organisations that consistently go above and beyond to improve communities across Bedford.
This celebration was shared with hosts Bedford School, as well as each of the category sponsors that made the evening possible.
The superstars nominated for an award could be anyone from event organisers to charity fundraisers, a young person helping to care for their parent, someone that goes over and above their job description to make a difference or a young achiever.
Whatever the outcomes, each nominee definitely deserved to be recognised for their work, with each judging panel commenting on how hard it was to choose a winner and highly commended.
Each nominee can hold their head up high and say you truly are one of those who make Bedford Borough brilliant.
A night to remember
The Quarry Theatre was packed to the rafters as nominees and their families were entertained by music from Bedford School’s Pianist, String Quartet and Jazz Band.
They were also joined by local dignitaries including Mohammad Yasin MP, The High Sherrif of Bedfordshire, and the Lord-Lieutenant of Bedfordshire, Susan Lousada who closed the event.
Speaking to the gathered heroes, the Lord-Lieutenant tore up her pre-prepared speech and spoke with emotion at how “humbled” she was to be in the same room with the nominees.
“I was born in Kempston, I was educated in Kempston and I am proud to be a Bedfordian, you are all truly great Bedfordians,” she said. “You are all heroes”.
Hosting the evening, Paul Hutchinson and Erica Roffe, co-managing editors of the Bedford Independent and David Steadman, CEO of The Harpur Trust detailed why each person had been nominated.
They also paid tribute to Brian Webb, winner of last year’s Fundraiser of the Year award who sadly died in December 2022 after losing his battle with prostate cancer.
Brian raised over £5,000 for Beds Prostate Cancer Support Group [BPCSG] before succumbing to the disease. This year’s awards were in his memory.
Details of the next Everyday Heroes Awards will be released soon, but for this year, we’d like to extend our heartfelt thanks to every person who took the time to make a nomination.
We received almost 80 nominations in total and if it hadn’t been for those making a nomination, we would not have been able to give Bedford’s Everyday Heroes the recognition they deserve.
These are the people who make Bedford brilliant
Click or tap on the category to see who won
Volunteer of the Year
sponsored by The Harpur Trust
|All the volunteers at Sue Ryder St John’s Hospice are incredible and will go above and beyond to support the cause, but Elizabeth Doherty doesn’t have an off switch and for the last five years, she has been a friendly face at the hospice
|Matt has arranged and helped thousands of trees to be planted. He also involved many primary school children to not only be active by planting their own trees but added to their awareness of the importance of our environment.
|Through Bedford-Based Literacy Charity Schoolreaders, Mavis has been volunteering with Priory Primary School for over seven years. She spends two hours a week dedicating her time to reading with the children, helping those who have fallen behind on their reading.
|Despite being in his late 70s, Mike spends as much of his free time as possible volunteering for many organisations including MacMillan Cancer Support, Wrest Park, Cattle Creep, The London Marathon, British Athletics, Bedford Blues, Park Run and Stanwick Lakes.
|Ralley helped others when no one will. She translates and completes paperwork, makes phone calls, challenges malpractice, signpost to other organisations, organises fun group sessions and will always be there to listen. Many women rely on her to access services.
|Robert’s given 50 years of voluntary service to support those in emotional distress in our communities. He’s passionate about ensuring everyone’s supported in their time of need and he’s made it his life’s mission to ensure people get help when they need it most.
|Sarah approaches her different volunteer roles with dedication, compassion, empathy and determination to make a difference to those affected by immigration detention. She helps people restore their dignity and self esteem and empowers them to improve their lives.
Winner: Robert Labe
Highly Commended: Elizabeth Doherty
Excellence in Education
sponsored by Bedford School
|Though being visually impaired, Andy doesn’t let his disability stop him from being the amazing and inspiring role model he is to staff and most importantly his students. His impairment is truly his superpower, he touches the lives of students and staff daily.
|Bizzy Bees Pre-School CIO
|The Bizzy Bee’s Team supports many families within the local community. They have a high level of SEN children who are thriving within their care. Bizzy Bees is an extended family who’s service to the community is invaluable. The management team always go above and beyond
|Gina makes so much effort to learn the individual needs of her disabled students and goes above and beyond to accommodate and encourage them.
My autistic daughter has excelled in her classes, growing in confidence, even whilst having to leave other provisions.
|Laurie has coached the girls’ Year 5&6 football team at Scott Primary to becoming District and County Champions. Up next are the Regional finals.
|Mrs Adamska goes above and beyond for every one of her students. Promoting ambition and spreading a true love for English, she gives up her time and effort into providing further tuition to students, helping them to prep for exams, which has produced excellent GCSE result
Winner: Gina Dunn
Highly Commended: Bizzy Bees Pre-School
Raising the Profile of the Town (Individual)
sponsored by The Quarry at St. Lukes
|Chelsea Beckford-Procyk has not only excelled in her chosen studies of Midwifery but also through her extra-curricular work on anti-racism in midwifery care she won ‘Student Midwife of the Year’ at the Student Nursing Times Awards and was nominated in the ‘Mary Seacole Award’ category which recognises students’ outstanding contribution to diversity and inclusion within nursing and healthcare.
|Working so hard to raise the profile of the town, from getting art painted on the car park, constantly helping shout about other independent makers and shops around the town, and helping a Ukranian family set up a new business.
|James Pharaoh MBE
|As the co-founder and director of Bedfringe, James has been responsible for bringing hundreds, if not thousands, of events to Bedford over the last 15 years and has put Bedford on the map as a Fringe destination.
Winner: Chelsea Beckford-Procyk
Highly Commended: James Pharaoh MBE
Raising the Profile of the Town (Team)
sponsored by Bedford Radio
|Bedford Repair Café
|The team does amazing work by giving up their time to repair many items and help the environment by stopping lots of stuff from ending up in landfill.
|An organisation which provides a safe space for women. They hosted the first-ever Bangladeshi Heritage Day in Bedford. The event attracted a TV crew from Bangladesh itself, as well as Bedford.
|John Bunyan Community Boat Operations Team
|The Operations Management Team of the John Bunyan Boat work tirelessly to encourage visitors to the town, making the Community Boat a leading feature of Bedford tourism.
Winner: John Bunyan Community Boat Operations Team
Highly Commended: Bedford Repair Café
Fundraiser of the Year (Team)
sponsored by White Hart Press
|Bedford School Movember MoBros
|The Bedford School ‘MoBros’ is a group of around 80 Upper Sixth Form schoolboys who raised a staggering £14,272 placing them first (out of 603 teams) in the UK School’s challenge and were ranked 15th in the whole country for their fundraising efforts. Additionally, they educated others and created awareness of men’s health in the process.
|Caring For Humanity – Naima Khanom and Emma Chamberlain
|These two Year 10 students have worked very hard on various fundraisers, such as raising money for children in developing countries who need educational resources, period poverty and for winter blankets in times of need. They have raised well over £2000 in 2022.
|Castle Newnham Teachers
|These excellent teachers from Castle Newnham School slept rough and took on minimal food and water for 24 hours, experiencing the impact of the cost-of-living crisis to highlight modern-day poverty and raise money for the local Dine With Us charity. They raised a massive £4,361!
|Edith Cavell Primary PTA Abi Duddlestone & Matt Cullen
|Despite not being able to fundraise during Covid in 2022 and 2021, the EC PTA has managed to raise enough money to fund a new library ‘shed’ for the school.
|RBD Football Match – Gavin Hoyte & Grant Williams
|Gavin suffered a cardiac arrest whilst on a Stag Do in Newcastle in 2021 and nearly died, however following extensive CPR and medical treatment, he survived. He decided to fundraise for charities, one being literally very close to his heart – the British Heart Foundation – as well as Alzheimer’s Research and the Azaylia Foundation.
Winners: Caring For Humanity – Naima Khanom and Emma Chamberlain and Bedford School Movember MoBros
Highly Commended: Gavin Hoyte & Grant Williams for the RBD Football Match
Fundraiser of the Year (Individual)
sponsored by Woodfines Solicitors
|Despite only being nine years old, Clark has undertaken various fundraising endeavours over the years to raise money for lots of different charities. In 2022 for his 9th birthday, he raised money for 4 different charities.
|Hugh tirelessly raised over £5,000 for Country Days by cycling over 10,000 miles in Bedfordshire, including a marathon stint at the Bedford River Festival.
|Giuseppe Marsala of Dom’s Auto Services took on an amazing 150km charity run challenge throughout May 2022. Giuseppe or Pep runs the vehicle repair shop with his dad and raised £600 for the Sue Ryder St. Johns Hospice in Moggerhanger.
Winner: Hugh Maltby
Highly Commended: Giuseppe Marsala
sponsored by Bedford Heights
|A passionate STEM ambassador at Bedford Girls’ School. Alex Gentry’s CV is not only impressive, it is growing. To date, she has over 38 various achievements and awards under her belt. She has been nominated for the FDM Everywoman in Tech Awards.
|Eloise achieved numerous accolades for her swimming in 2022. She took Silver in the 50m Fly at the British Summer Championships in July and broke 3 Senior County Records over the course of the year. She was also selected for the Swim England Elite Pathway Programme.
|Cricketer, Florence Miller, who completed her A-Levels last summer at Bedford Girls’ School has excelled in cricket for Northants. This has resulted in her signing her first professional cricket contract with The Sunrisers Cricket.
|Grayson started roller hockey about four years ago and plays for the Bobcats Inline Hockey U10 club team, even though he is just eight years old. In autumn 2022, he succeeded in achieving a place to represent Great Britain in the U8 team.
|Lucy achieved outstanding results in 2022. 10 Age Group Golds at Beds ASA County Championships and Senior County Champion over 800m. Regional Bronze medal in the 1500m. Qualified for English Nationals, finishing the third fastest 17-year-old in her category over 1500m.
|Talented hockey star, Maddie Axford, has been progressing on the GB hockey pathway. She was selected in the Women’s Elite Development Programme for Team GB and won gold for the University of Nottingham at the BUCS champs last year.
|Olivia is an outstanding role model to all and always goes above and beyond to help others. On top of her role as the Cheerleading team captain, she also volunteers as an assistant coach. Olivia also mentors younger students through the Performing Arts.
Winner: Maddie Axford
Highly Commended: Olivia Howlett-Marro
Unsung Hero of the Year
sponsored by Brewpoint
|Catherine Course Personal Trainer
|Catherine is an incredibly talented local Personal Trainer who not only has inspired confidence in all ages to embrace exercise (and most importantly enjoy it!) but has also worked hard to raise thousands of pounds for charity
|Liz Fordham (CEO/ founder of Making Me Charity)
|Liz runs a busy counselling practice for young people and decided that she would also set a charity with the mission to teach children to thrive. The charity helps youngsters build resilience, understand and communicate their emotions, and embrace their mental wellbeing
|Having jointly set up a homeless support charity Mike has now moved on to advising and supporting charities and individuals about Homelessness. His support to Domestic Abuse victims across Bedford has been invaluable to the womens’ centre and over and above expectations.
|Pritti helps relieve the suffering of children and adults living in Bedfordshire who are affected by a life-limiting or terminal illness, by granting wishes that are important to them which will create memories for them to treasure.
|Sam is a true unsung hero as she spends so much time helping others. She works full time and also looks after her own children but she finds the time to help on a PTA, Beavers, looking after the school’s chickens, being a school governor and more…
|He gives up so much time to help local residents with estate issues. Not only fighting service charge companies but helping anyone here who needs it.
Winner: Mike Hyden
Highly Commended: Sam Mellonie
Young Carer of the Year
sponsored by Heart Academies Trust
|Isla spent most of her childhood helping care for her brother Joe. She is amazing with him, supporting and helping him with all his physical and emotional needs. Isla has sacrificed so much because of her brother. She never complains and is always happy. She is amazing
|Josh helped care for his dad when diagnosed with stage 4 cancer – He had a fractured neck and spinal compression. His dad lost all feeling in his fingers and was unable to move his arms. Josh helped his mum during meal times and looked after his dad at home.
|Helping his Mum daily, he’s her carer, nurse, helper, therapist and a reason to be alive. Putting his mum first and involving her in activities that she’s physically able to do. He doesn’t just care for his mum but for everyone in his life. Empathy is his middle name.
|Lily has been there for her mum and her two-year-old brother over the horrendous diagnosis of Lyme disease that has left her mum seriously ill after being bitten by a tick. At 11 years old and going through an ADHD assessment herself, she’s been the best support.