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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
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

Guru Careers: Graduate Resourcer / Recruitment Account Executive

£18k + Bonus: Guru Careers: We are seeking a bright, enthusiastic and internet...

Reach Volunteering: Chair and trustees sought for YMCA Bolton

VOLUNTARY ONLY - EXPENSES REIMBURSED: Reach Volunteering: Bolton YMCA is now a...

Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher

£150 - £180 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher Geography teach...

Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher

£150 - £180 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher Geography teach...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?