IoS Happy List 2012

In our fifth annual antidote to those rich lists, David Randall and Ruth Halkon present 100 people who make Britain a much, much better place

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The Independent Online

Click here for full 2012 happy list

This Sunday, The Independent on Sunday publishes its fifth annual Happy List, naming 100 outstanding people whose volunteering, caring, fund-raising, mentoring, charity founding, or selflessness makes Britain a more contented, better-adjusted, supportive, and happier place.

They include the woman who lost her sight on her wedding day 47 years ago and has campaigned for blind people ever since; the 91-year-old who raises money for charity by wing walking; the former gang member now helping young people avoid a life of crime; the victim of domestic abuse who went on to found three refuges and a helpline; the Bristol foster parents who have given homes to 150 children; and the teenager who survived 23 operations and founded her own charity for sick children.

There is also the foster mother who specialises in caring for babies born to drug addicts; the man who was so passionate about saving a threatened building that he remortgaged his own home to save it; the woman behind mobile chemotherapy units, and the Lincolnshire woman who has been volunteering for more than 70 years. All these, plus sports people, community stalwarts, mentors and some innovators who made better use of empty shops, pioneered gadgets to make life easier for disabled people, and founded businesses that help those in need to help themselves.

The Happy List began five years ago as an antidote to all those rich lists, which genuflect before the super-wealthy, the sharp-elbowed, inheritors of millions and the over-bonused. This list celebrates a different set of values, honouring those who give back, rather than take, those who help others without thought of enriching themselves, and, in many cases, at considerable personal cost.

In previous years we have included in the list a number of well-known people. We felt this year it would be better if we listed separately 10 celebrities who do much to make us happier, leaving the main list of 100 to be exclusively the unsung, people whose extraordinary efforts have gone unrecognised outside their own circles and communities. Many of them do their good work in a town, village or limited area. But they have been selected not only because what they do is noteworthy, but so that they can stand as representatives of the hundreds of thousands of Britons who similarly give back by volunteering, fund-raising, or caring.

The 100 people here are the result of weeks of research, appeals across social media, and scores of nominations from individuals and organisations. If you know of someone you think should have been included, then please let us know, and we will consider them next year.