As we head ever closer to finding out who our winners will be in the 2020 Bedford Independent Everyday Heroes Awards we caught up with David Steadman, Chief Executive of the awards partner, The Harpur Trust.
Here, he explains why the charity was so keen to partner with the Bedford Independent to bring the Everyday Heroes awards to Bedford.
We couldn’t be prouder to be the headline sponsor of these awards which celebrate Bedford’s unsung heroes.
The nominees (and many others in our town just like them), stand out because they go the extra mile to help others. They give their time, their expertise and their energy without seeking any form of recognition or reward.
They make Bedford a better place to live for everyone.
We were particularly keen to support the Volunteer of the Year category because so many of the charities and community groups we support through our £1 million grants programme simply couldn’t exist without volunteers.
The more that people in Bedford give their energy and skills, the better everyone’s lives will be.
Over the past year, we have seen countless examples of Bedfordians shopping for neighbours, delivering food parcels and volunteering at the incredible vaccination programme.
I’m also proud of the part our schools have played, with staff, pupils and parents giving up time to produce visors, putting together NHS care packages or writing letters to residents in care homes.
Our Founder Sir William Harpur understood the importance of community. He was born in Bedford but became Lord Mayor of London when Elizabeth 1st was on the throne.
He never forgot his roots, and in 1566 he gifted some water meadow to support education and help people in Bedford. That land became Holborn in London, and his gift has been used to make better lives ever since.
455 years on, his legacy lives on. We now educate 3,500 pupils and employ over 1,100 people across our four schools.
We’ve supported over 90% of the borough’s schools over the past 5 years, whether through grantmaking, our University Bursary programme, our school uniform grant (for local senior school pupils receiving free school meals), or through the variety of events and projects that we deliver.
Over the past 10 years, we have given over £11 million in grants to charities and voluntary groups.
Covid has presented particular challenges in our community, so we felt we needed to do more.
We pledged an extra £1.5 million to support local charities through Covid, which has already helped organisations such as SEVA Trust to feed vulnerable people, charities such as Above and Beyond Cancer Care to continue their service supporting those diagnosed with cancer, and Bedfordshire Opportunities for Learning Disabilities (BOLD) to purchase equipment to work safely with clients.
We have also been working together with the High Sheriff, Susan Lousada, to ensure that local pupils could access technology to support their learning in lockdown, giving more than 150 brand new laptops to vulnerable children.
The people nominated represent hundreds of other unsung heroes in our community, who do so much to help without reward or recognition. I would like to send a thank you to all of you for everything that you do to make our community the wonderful place it is.
David Steadman is Chief Executive of The Harpur Trust.