August-September 2023 | Features

The heroes in our communities

The heroes in our communities

As part of the Champions Awards hosted by Rotary in Great Britain & Ireland, members of the public nominated by Rotary clubs were recognised for their integral voluntary work in the Community Champions Awards.


A New Dawn

August - September 2023

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Here are the seven outstanding members of the public that local Rotary clubs nominated as 2023’s Rotary Community Champions

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Shirley is the founder of Have a Hart, help the Homeless – a Birmingham- based homeless outreach organisation that distributes food, warm clothing and sleeping bags to those in need in Birmingham city centre.

Shirley started the project with her family and friends, using her small kitchen to cook food for hundreds of people and turning her house into a storage unit for all the resources they were distributing.

Fast forward to the present, 20 volunteers regularly help distribute donated essentials to over 180 homeless people, and the organisation receives assistance from Birmingham City Council and the local House of Fraser.


Since retiring after 44 years as an Engineer Officer in the Royal Air Force, Maurice Taylor has set out to help his local community not just by volunteering as the Colsterworth Nature Trail Leader but also helping the locals of Colsterworth, Lincolnshire, with litter picks, installing benches and putting up Christmas lights.

For 10 years, Maurice has created, led and inspired volunteering efforts to transform the unused railway line in Woolsthorpe-by-Colsterworth, Lincolnshire, from a neglected piece of industrial land to into a green asset for the benefit of the local community.

Through his leadership, the initial group of 3 volunteers grew to 30 and after some much-needed clearing, Maurice and his volunteers had created a popular nature trail with a footpath that was over 2 miles long.


Sarah Clay Nominated by Kingston-Upon-Thames Rotary

Drawing from her musical background, Sarah Clay originally started Voices of Hope by bringing together the marginalised and isolated in the Kingston area with community choirs, but the COVID-19 pandemic made Sarah use her strategic skills to expand what the charity could do.

Voices of Hope started the BRITE (Building Resilience In Today’s Environment) Box project to address the increasing problem of food hunger, providing over 30,000 meals and food parcels to those in need across Richmond, Kingston and Southwark.

Sarah also started the Kingston Women’s Hub – a partnership of organisations that brings holistic support to women recovering from abuse and long-term physical and mental health issues, with 135 women in weekly attendance.


Noel William McKee OBE Nominated by Carrickfergus Rotary

For three decades, Noel William McKee has been involved in working for his community, both through his position in the Northern Ireland Fire Service and on a personal level.

His work has ranged from organising events at a local level in his hometown of Whitehead and at a national level where he spearheaded fund raising in the Fire Service, raising countless thousands of pounds for charities across Northern Ireland.

Since retiring from the fire service, Noel has continued to take part in a wide range of voluntary work, from litter picking to improving the appearance of his town, through supporting vulnerable people by running events to raise awareness of and improve mental health, setting up and administering a localfood bank and organising wonderful support for local people throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.


Nicola Bolton is the Deputy Headteacher at Heswall Primary School, Wirral, and a Fellow of the UK Primary Science Teaching Trust who has always advocated for her school to be one of the leading schools when it comes to protecting and fighting climate change.

The #Heswalloceanblue project, led by the staff and children of Heswall Primary, was a great success in raising awareness for the effects of single use plastic on climate change. Over 50 organisations collaborated with the school for a variety of different events and the children’s “Take the Plastic Pledge” t-shirt campaign was supported and worn by several celebrities.

Nicola has also been actively engaged in getting her school to support 12 schools in Uganda in adopting measures to combat climate change in their area.


Marion Tasker Nominated by Retford Rotary

Marion Tasker, a former police sergeant from rural Nottinghamshire, has succeeded in improving the education and life experience of hundreds of girls in rural Africa through The Washable Sanitary Pads Project.

Beginning back in 2014, Marion established workshops to produce sanitary pads for schoolgirls, enabling them to attend school during menstruation when they were previously unable to.

Originating in the village of Luangwa, Zambia, the project has now expanded to multiple countries across Africa. It’s estimated that over 7,000 girls in Zambia have benefitted from the Pads Project and evaluation has shown a 50% increase in school attendance of the schoolgirls involved.


Robert Smith Nominated by Kirkintilloch Rotary

As the Founder of Group Recovery Aftercare Community Enterprise (GRACE), Robert Smith has worked tirelessly to provide a safe space for people in East Dunbartonshire, Scotland, suffering from any kind of trauma.

Seeking a better understanding of his own mental health issues, in 2012 Robert had a vision of establishing a peer-led recovery aftercare resource for the people in his community dealing with similar issues and the idea of GRACE was born.

GRACE now sees a regular attendance of 150 each week who engage in health and wellbeing activities designed to encourage personal development and learning.

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