Every year Rotary hosts the Champions Awards, celebrating the outstanding humanitarian and community service conducted by volunteers from across Great Britain and Ireland.
This year, seven Rotary members will be crowned Champions of Change, alongside seven Community Champions, members of the public whose efforts have been recognised by their local Rotary club.
Here we meet the seven Champions of Change winners who have been making a difference tackling mental health, supporting education, alleviating poverty, helping refugees and much more.
You can celebrate with our Champions at the ceremony in Nottingham on Friday 10th May 2019, as part of the Rotary Conference and Showcase. Tickets are on sale now.
Nick has been the leader of the Hour Community project, launched in 2011 by Framlingham Rotary Club.
Hour Community is a need-led project providing vital services to support the elderly and isolated and those suffering from mental health issues in the community. The project has a range of services including transporting the elderly and vulnerable to medical appointments, while the project’s two lunch clubs, the Forget Me Not Café and Worry Tree Café, offer safe and welcoming environments for those suffering with dementia and mental health issues.
Hour Community has grown to help hundreds of people each month and has the support of more than 40 volunteers and local businesses.
#DoTheRightThing met Millie, who told the inspirational story of how a mental health crisis turned her life upside down, and how she has used her own experiences to help others with the Worry Tree Cafe. For more information, visit: https://t.co/HmW18RM8Xo pic.twitter.com/9tEWdtFhm9
— Channel 5 (@channel5_tv) January 6, 2019
Lori Spragg and her charity Build on Books have helped to rebuild the foundations for education in Sierra Leone by collecting and providing in excess of 60,000 books, furniture, clean water, sanitation, food security and much more.
Torn apart by civil war, children of Sierra Leone were unable to go to school and the 11 years of terror and its aftermath left a 20 year gap in education, making it one of the most impoverished and illiterate countries in the world.
As an example of Lori’s success, one school in the village of Kwama has grown rapidly with new classrooms, over 1,600 pupils and three Build on Books enterprise projects including a farm, a canteen and a sewing workshop.
Ken is passionate about empowering people to lift themselves out of poverty, strengthen their families and improve their communities.
He has worked in Uganda for the past 45 years and his latest project has led to the protection of three natural springs of fresh water in the western end of the Rift Valley. In this area water is in great demand and many people have become ill or died from diseases like cholera as a result of its contamination.
Water now flows freely and cleanly from these three protected outlets, meaning 2,000 people no longer have to make the 3 kilometre journey to fetch what was previously dirty and polluted water.
Katy has given outstanding commitment to a school project in Uganda, giving children living in extreme poverty the opportunity to break out of the cycle and fulfil their potential.
She has been working on the project for six years through the UK charity Karuna Action and using her professional skills as a retired headteacher, has delivered teacher and leadership training to schools in desperately impoverished areas.
These activities have dramatically raised education standards and improved the life chances of the pupils, with many going on to become doctors, solicitors and teachers themselves.
Angela is a passionate ambassador for the charity Sightbox, which provides access to sport and education for the visually impaired in the UK and around the world.
Visually impaired students face high levels of unemployment and significant social hurdles throughout their lives. The project started in Liverpool and has grown across the world, with Angela’s role taking her to countries in Asia and Africa.
A Sightbox contains equipment, such as balls with bells in them, meaning all children can participate in sport and classroom games together.
John has spent the last 20 years helping asylum seekers and refugees in the Blackburn and Darwen area. He co-ordinates Darwen Asylum Refugees Enterprise (DARE), supporting individuals by running a drop-in centre, English classes, health checks, sign posting and trips out.
This has had a direct impact on the local community as relationships develop and understanding of the issues surrounding world conflict increases.
DARE has helped to integrate hundreds of refugees into the local area, immersing them in the community’s cultural life, at a time in their lives where they often feel marginalised and helpless.
Chris has shown huge dedication to his local community of Strelley and Broxtowe in Nottingham. With very few activities in this underprivileged area for young people, the threat of becoming involved in a life of anti-social behaviour and crime is very real.
He set up a youth club and coaches a 5-a-side football team in the area, which has offered a safe haven and environment for dozens of young people to channel their energy into something positive.
He has also been deeply affected by personal tragedy after the loss of his daughter at the age of 10. But in her memory, Chris created a scheme to collect, repair and distribute unwanted toys to children who often don’t receive presents. Last year alone, 1,200 toys were handed out to children in the community.
Meet our Community Champions
As well as the seven Champions of Change, seven members of the public are being recognised for their outstanding volunteering. Read their stories below.