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

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.

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Geography Teacher

£85 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: We require a teacher of Geogr...

HR Assistant / Human Resources Assistant

£Neg + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: An HR Assistant / Human Resources Ass...

Talent Community Coordinator

£Neg + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: A Talent Community Coordinator is nee...

Business Support - Banking - Halifax - £250 pd

£150 - £250 per day: Orgtel: HR Analyst - Banking - HR - Halifax - £150 - £250...

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little