The Rotary Champions Awards are back for 2023, and once again we’re celebrating the outstanding humanitarian and community service carried out by volunteers from across Great Britain and Ireland.
Split into two categories, the Champions Awards recognise unsung heroes, nominated by their local Rotary club, who pioneer, lead and support some amazing projects and activities.
From alleviating food poverty, to tackling maternal health in developing countries, to combatting flooding and supporting Ukrainian refugees, this year’s winners have made an incredible difference in their own community and around the world.
Here, we’ll meet our Champions of Change, who are all members of Rotary. Meet the winners in the Community Champions category here.
The Champions Awards are proudly supported by Staysure.
Champions of Change 2023
The war in Ukraine has been devastating, with millions displaced and many more having their lives torn apart. Lorraine has given time, energy and incredible determination to ensure humanitarian aid has been delivered to those who need it most.
Alongside husband Greg, who is originally from Poland, Lorraine formed Project Lifeline. Her rapid response meant that within 8 days of the war breaking out, Lorraine had collected enough donations of food, clothing, medicine and more to fill an articulated lorry bound for Poland.
12 months later, Project Lifeline has raised over £110,000 and facilitated the delivery of over 20 more lorries full of aid to the region. But it hasn’t stopped there.
The project has purchased over 50 generators for homes and hospitals, fold up beds, maternity clothing, wheelchairs and mobility aids, laptops for children to continue studying, outdoor play equipment, water storage crates and so much more.
It has often been a physically and emotionally demanding journey, but Lorraine’s unparalleled passion, fierce determination and humility has brought comfort in the most desperate of times.
After a decade-long military career which included tours in Northern Ireland and Bosnia, Garreth lived with the devastating effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) long after his service ended.
Having overcome his own mental health challenges thanks to Neuro Linguistic Psychotherapy, Garreth decided to change careers to become a psychotherapist himself, as well as founding the charity Veterans at Ease. To date, Garreth has helped over 400 veterans, serving personnel and their families deal with PTSD and find the peace of mind they rightly deserve.
Garreth had one big expedition in his sights before retirement. In December 2022, Garreth assembled a team of Veterans at Ease members to complete the Talisker Atlantic Rowing Challenge; a gruelling 45-day, 3000-mile row across the Atlantic Ocean, raising £139,000.
Since retiring as an NHS Obstetrician/Gynaecologist in 2004, Adrian has volunteered his time to transform medical care in resource-poor countries. Having supported programmes across Asia and Africa, Adrian’s most recent project has taken him to Tanzania.
After an initial five-year collaboration, in 2019 Adrian and his wife accepted the invitation to spend three years living in the village of Milo in the south west of the country. During that time, the impact on the community has been transformative, with Adrian overseeing a vast improvement in maternal health practices for the village’s 30,000 residents.
With the provision of new equipment, purchased as a result of Adrian’s fundraising, and the training and outreach programmes he has delivered, the village has had over 1,100 safe and successful births without a single maternal death.
Incredible volunteers turn their vision into action and lasting change. David is someone who has done exactly that through The Fishtail Fund.
Named after a holy mountain behind the village of Pokhara, the fund supports children from this impoverished part of Nepal reach their potential by sponsoring their secondary and further education.
Although primary education is free in Nepal, many families rely on their children to undertake household duties as they grow up, making secondary and further education impossible for some.
Since 2010, David has inspired and led a team, forged partnerships and sourced sponsorship to support over 90 students, who are now thriving in fields such as medicine and engineering.
Alongside core educational programmes, The Fishtail Fund also contributed to the building of a new school following the 2015 earthquake, and financed food parcels for the community during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bede is Founder and Chair of the charity Slow the Flow, which works to alleviate and prevent the devastating effects of flooding in natural and sustainable ways.
Since 2012, Calder Valley in Yorkshire has experienced three separate years of severe flooding, damaging thousands of homes and businesses in the region, while also heightening the concern about more frequent and worsening extreme weather events.
Through Natural Flood Management, Slow the Flow create ‘leaky dams’ using natural resources, which slow and divert water away from residential areas into woodlands and flood plains. This process also facilitates the development of more prosperous and enriched ecosystems.
Bede and Slow the Flow have created a new sense of empowerment among the community and inspired the participation of large numbers of volunteers in the charity’s programmes.
Alongside practical work, Slow the Flow’s impact has included educational programmes for young people and schools, universities, businesses and the public at large.