Independent on Sunday's Happy List 2015: Three cheers for those who make Britain smile

The IoS's party for Happy Listers was the place to share ideas

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The Independent Online

Happy Listers from across Britain gathered at the Grange St Paul’s hotel in central London on Monday at a celebration of their achievements.

The Happy List, which was devised by The Independent on Sunday and has been published annually since 2008, celebrates the inspirational heroes and heroines whose kindness, ingenuity and bravery make Britain a better place to live. This was the second time that a party has been held in honour of the people on the list. As The IoS’s editor Lisa Markwell said: “With the generous backing of JustGiving and Grange Hotels, we were able to give the 100 Happy Listers and their friends and families a memorable night – but it was their enthusiasm, graciousness and sense of community that really made it go with a swing.”

Although the backdrop of St Paul’s Cathedral took away the breath of many, soon the hotel’s rooftop SkyBar was buzzing with conversations and burgeoning partnerships. Marathon man Robert Young (who as we went to press was attempting to break the world record, 350 miles, for the longest run without stopping) chatted to seven year-old Ted McCaffery, who completed a mini-triathlon only weeks after major heart surgery and has since raised more than £20,000 for charitable causes. Jim Clifford, who with his wife Sue has adopted nine children deemed “harder to place”, chatted to Robert Sayers, who volunteers with Putting Down Roots, a London gardening group for homeless people.

With more than small-talk on their minds, the Happy Listers stayed true to their enterprising spirits, taking full advantage of the occasion to network with fellow recipients, sharing ideas, strategies and goals.

For Solomon Smith, the founder of the Brixton Soup Kitchen, which provides meals, education and workshops for the homeless, the party gave him a chance to liaise with fundraising experts and other London-based charities. “It was an amazing opportunity to network with other people who are doing a lot of good work in the community,” he said.   

 

Speaking to London Live (the TV channel owned by The IoS’s parent company), JustGiving co-founder Anne-Marie Huby said she admired how the Happy Listers represent the “spontaneous desire to help others without a second thought”. It was a feeling echoed by David Cameron in a letter to Dominique Harrison-Bentzen, who received the Government’s Points of Light award at the party from the minister for civil society, Rob Wilson. (Many other Happy Listers have already received this award, which demonstrates the growing influence of “giving back”.) The Prime Minister said: “Through your hard work and dedication you are making our communities stronger and our country a better place.”

Ms Harrison-Bentzen, from Preston, helped to raise £45,000 for her local homeless charity, the Foxton Centre, after she was inspired by the kindness of a homeless man who gave her £3 when she was stranded.