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 members of the public will be crowned Community Champions after having their efforts recognised by their local Rotary club, alongside seven Champions of Change, Rotary members who have also been involved with extraordinary volunteering projects.
Here we meet the seven Community Champions winners who have been making a difference fighting prostate cancer, supporting children with autism, tackling mental health, 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.
The Ethiopia Medical Project (EMP) was founded ten years ago by Jo Middlemiss and Maureen Burnett. Their aim was to help women in a remote part of Ethiopia who were suffering from Uterine Prolapse, a condition that can be cured through a relatively straightforward process, but needed the right procedures and modest sums of money.
Over the last decade, the project has put over 8,000 women through the prolapse healing and repair process, and now supports the salaries of 15 members of staff at the Baccama Clinic.
Jo has captured the hearts of women in Scotland, who come forward to support the charity with the tens of thousands of pounds required to keep the clinic running each year.
Jo was nominated by Kinross and District Rotary.
Sharon and her husband have two sons, one with Asperger Syndrome and one with severe autism. Upon their diagnosis, they were given a leaflet, a box of tissues and told that there was no cure.
Sharon set up the charity Beat Autism to help other desperate parents find their way through this challenging condition, and gain the help and support that is needed.
Beat Autism provides parental support and learning groups, drop-in clinics, training to school staff to help them understand the challenges autistic children can face and a kids' club, where children are free to simply enjoy being themselves.
Sharon was nominated by Normanton Rotary.
Over the last 17 years, Wendy has grown the Learning for Life project from three mornings of English teaching into the most influential refugee support organisation in Kent.
The project provides holistic support for refugee and asylum seeking young people, from their arrival in the UK, to becoming integrated members of the community.
This includes English and independent living skills provision, drop-in advice and case work support, mentoring, holiday activities, advocacy and partnership working to young people, the majority of whom arrive as unaccompanied minors, with no family or adult support.
The learning schemes equip young people with the skills to integrate into society, give them friends to confide in and have fun with and helps them to move forward with study, work and their adult lives.
Wendy was nominated by South Foreland Rotary.
Having recognised the growing need to provide support for those with all types and stages of memory loss including dementia, plus their families and carers, Jan was determined to provide support for those in South Carmarthenshire.
Within a short time, Jan, a retired occupational therapist, had got a team together, negotiated the use of premises and prepared and delivered varied weekly programmes to visitors.
These include themed quizzes and reminiscence sessions to help visitors to reengage with familiar elements of their past whilst enhancing the skills needed to perform everyday tasks.
Jan was nominated by Pembrey & Burry Port Rotary.
When Amber’s brother, Ben, took his own life in 2010 after a short and unexpected period of illness, it had a profound effect on her. Soon after, then aged just 17, Amber became one of the founding Trustees of the Invictus Trust, a mental health charity aimed at supporting adolescents.
Amber has been a driving force behind the charity’s activity, helping to raise over £250,000, supporting 50 families and campaigning for NHS England to build the first adolescent mental health unit in Cornwall, costing £11 million. Prior to this, children were being sent for care as far away as Cheshire and Norfolk, at least a 6 hour drive.
She has campaigned passionately and actively throughout her personal, university and professional life on the subject of mental health which has raised huge awareness and attracted notable personal commendations, including a Rotary Young Citizen Award in 2017. She also hosted her own TEDx Talk, which you can watch below.
Amber was nominated by Lostwithiel Rotary
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK, with 47,000 men diagnosed every year. Knowing that men are reluctant to access these health services, Sarah and her colleague set up an innovative pop-up clinic at a local football club to screen men for the disease.
The familiarity of the environment encouraged men to come into contact with healthcare professionals and demystified the daunting process of being screened.
Over a two year period, the project screened 2,000 men, with many being referred for further investigation, which has no doubt saved lives.
Sarah was nominated by Chesterfield Scarsdale Rotary.
Donna has been a mainstay of the Fullarton Community Association for over 30 years, supported by many fantastic volunteers. What started in the late 1970s with just a wooden hut as a temporary facility has grown into a thriving focal point for the community.
In September 2017, the new, £1.8 million Fullarton Community Hub was opened, offering a youth club, outdoor recreational space and garden, integrated health centre and GP practice and a flexible space for community use.
Donna’s involvement with the Community Association has been outstanding, and she continues to tirelessly give thousands of hours of voluntary service every year.
Donna was nominated by Irvine Seagate Rotary.
Meet our Champions of Change
As well as the seven Community Champions, seven Rotary members are being recognised for their outstanding volunteering. Read their stories below.