I’m so proud to be able to help celebrate Bedford’s everyday heroes

Superhero Awards

About 20 years ago, give or take, I moved to Bedford. Having come from a not-too-exciting small town a bit further south, Bedford seemed quite the upgrade.

I am sure there will be a few annoying people who smile or even laugh cynically at the idea Bedford can be called an ‘upgrade’, but I can assure you it is.

Of course, there will always be debates about whether the town centre is evolving properly, if transport links are being built appropriately, or if we need an elected mayor, but the main thing that’s kept my love for Bedford so strong is its people.

When I moved here, I knew one person. I’d left good friends behind and my family are just a bit too far away to simply pop in when needed or wanted. Thankfully, I soon learned that Bedfordians can be quite a friendly bunch.

Of course, it helped that I was ‘walking the beat’ as a young journalist, getting to know my new home and speaking to people I probably wouldn’t have had the chance to had it not been for work, and many of these people soon became friends.

Journalists at my own and ‘rival’ news desks were amongst the first to become mates. Inviting each other to BBQs and parties, laying the foundations for friendships that last to this day.

But it wasn’t just colleagues with similar interests who welcomed me and showed me the real reason Bedford is a brilliant place to live.

BI Founders: Erica Roffe, Paul Hutchinson, Julia Course-Crofts at Bedford Running Festival August 2019
It’s the friendliness of Bedfordians that has helped shape my life in the Borough and even led to the creation of the Bedford Independent. (l-r) BI founders: Erica Roffe, Paul Hutchinson and Julia Course-Crofts.

There was the Queen’s Park Imam who organised a multi-faith show of defiance to the 7/7 terrorist attacks, there was the family who adopted several puppies found abandoned in a park, and there were countless people raising money for local charities.

There were the artists, the event organisers, and the protesters, who led to me forming the Bedford Film Festival with Stephen Judge and Richard Jobson.

This in turn introduced me to Erica and Julia who, as you know, led to the three of us forming Bedford’s most popular news desk, the Bedford Independent.

Then there were the athletes, the community leaders, and the ‘blokes down the pub’ who filled the other parts of my life with matches at the Blues, quiz nights at the Devvy, and gigs at Esquires.

Whether I met them in those early days or later on as I settled into Bedford life even more, all these people represent the reason why Bedford is a brilliant place to live and it’s so much more than its bricks and mortar and elected officials.

Bedford’s soul and brilliance come from its people, and that’s why the Bedford Independent Everyday Heroes are so important.

They’re about recognising the people who help our Borough consistently punch above its weight, those same people who welcomed me and turned Bedford from somewhere I live to somewhere I call home.

The awards, which are in partnership with The Harpur Trust, give us a collective chance to say “thank you” for all they do. They might feel what they do is no trouble at all, but to us, it makes all the difference.

This is the third Bedford Independent Everyday Heroes awards, and we know there are many people out there who are going great things for Bedford, please help us find them so they can get the recognition and thanks they deserve.

The categories

While the awards are in partnership with The Harpur Trust, each category is also sponsored by a local Bedford business or organisation that wants to say “thanks” to Bedford’s everyday heroes.

Without these partners and sponsors, these awards would not be possible and we are grateful for their support.

Nominate someone for any of the categories below here

Volunteer of the Year sponsored by The Harpur Trust

Do you know someone who tirelessly volunteers for a charity or good cause within Bedford Borough?

We all know we couldn’t do without obvious helpers like school governors, there are hundreds of people out there who don’t even realise they are volunteers but give their time for free every week to help others.

Whatever they do, we want to hear about how they’ve helped make Bedford a better place in their free time.

Excellence in Education sponsored by Bedford School

This award recognises excellence from an individual in teaching, coaching or other educational disciplines.

Teaching, coaching, or educating is much more than a job. Those people inspire, encourage and make a difference in a child’s future.

We are looking for someone who has truly gone above and beyond in helping a young person or class to recognise their potential and shine.

Excellence in Education Winner Belinda Edgeworth with James Hodgson from Bedford School
Excellence in Education Winner Belinda Edgeworth with James Hodgson from Bedford School

Raising the Profile of the Town (Individual) sponsored by The Quarry Theatre

Do you know someone who has achieved something that has put Bedford Borough on the map? If so, this award is for them. As an individual, they may have organised an event, campaigned to make our town better, or shouted loudly about the positives of Bedford on social media. Whatever it is, tell us how they’ve helped shine a light on our borough.

This isn’t just an award for those doing great things in our Borough, if you know someone who is shouting about Bedford, helping point to all the brilliant things here, or associating Bedford with their own achievements further afield, they’re eligible for this award too.

Young Achiever sponsored by Bedford Heights

This award honours an individual aged 21 or under who has achieved over and above the expected. We are looking for young people who show sporting, community or charitable excellence and the positive impact it has on Bedford Borough.

Raising the Profile of the Town (Team) sponsored by Bedford Radio

If you know of a group of people or an organisation that proves to people in other parts of the UK and beyond that Bedford punches above its weight, then this is the award you need to nominate them for.

We’re looking for teams* who have done everything from organising events to representing our Borough in their chosen field and promoted Bedford as either a brilliant place to be or home to excellent people.

If they help make Bedford look brilliant then we want to celebrate what they do.

*Two or more people

Fundraiser of the Year (Individual) sponsored by Woodfines Solicitors

We’re looking for someone who has worked hard to raise awareness and cash for their chosen charity. Whatever they’ve raised funds for, and no matter how much, we want to hear the creative ways they gained support and why it was important to them to support their cause.

Individuals will be judged on passion, creativity, and commitment to their cause.

Fundraiser of the Year (Team) sponsored by White Hart Press

We’re looking for a team* who has worked hard to raise awareness and cash for their chosen charity. Whatever they’ve raised funds for, and no matter how much, we want to hear the creative ways they gained support and why it was important to them to support their cause. Individuals will be judged on passion, creativity and commitment to their cause.

*Two or more people

Unsung Hero – sponsored by Brewpoint

Bedford Borough is full of unsung heroes, and we think it’s time to help them shine. Do you know someone who is always looking out for their neighbours, gives back to their community or has recently shown an act of bravery?

This is our broadest category, and we want to hear inspirational stories about great Bedfordians. So, if you know someone who has done something outstanding to help others, that does not fit into any of our other categories, then this is the award for them.

Unsung Hero winner Heidi Killman with Ed Robinson from Brewpoint
2021 Unsung Hero winner Heidi Killman with Ed Robinson from Brewpoint

Adult Carer – supported by Carers in Bedfordshire

We are proud to launch two awards this year for people in Bedford Borough who are carers. The first of which is for adult carers. Do you know someone who is a carer who deserves recognition for the sacrifices they make for a loved one?

They must be over 18 for this category, and are considered a carer if they are looking after someone because of their illness, frailty, disability, mental health problem or addiction and cannot cope without their support.

They may be responsible for a wide range of tasks including help with getting out of bed and personal care such as bathing, to emotional support such as helping someone cope with the symptoms of a mental illness.

They won’t receive payment for caring for them apart from carer benefits and the person they care for may not have a formal diagnosis. They may live together or in another place or town including a care or nursing home, independent or assisted living scheme.

More guidance on who is classed as a carer can be found here.

Young Carer – sponsored by Heart Academies Trust

There are 800,000 young carers aged 5-17 who care for an adult or family member in the UK and we want those in Bedford Borough to be recognised for what they do.

To be nominated for this award, the carer must be under the age of 18. Being a kid is hard enough but these genuine heroes give up so much to help often without people outside of their immediate family being aware of their sacrifices.

While a young carer may also do the same things that an adult carer does, they may also have to carry out daily tasks that non-carer children only do occasionally, such as cooking or cleaning.

They often then don’t have time for themselves or school work.

They may also have to help someone like a parent get dressed and move around, and give them a lot of physical help and emotional support, too.

More guidance on young carers can be found here.

How to nominate

Nominations are now open and you can either fill in the form here or use the embedded form below.

Please make sure your nominee fits the criteria of the chosen category. If you are unsure, please email us.

Submissions must be no more than 300 words and include evidence of how they or their work has made a positive impact within Bedford Borough between 1 January 2022 and 31 December 2022.

We will also require a short description of no more than 50 words that we will use to highlight any nominees who are chosen for the final stage.

Nominations will close on 3 March 2023

Please note: The Bedford Independent Everyday Heroes Awards 2022, in partnership with the Harpur Trust, are for individuals and teams. Businesses and registered charities are not eligible but will be celebrated at a separate business awards event.