Leads large projects that develop space and satellite communications for Nasa, and kit that monitors climate change. She has also given inspirational talks to 25,000 children about becoming astronauts, engineers and scientists, and slaying myths about careers, class and gender. Kids say she's a blast.
Restaurateur who prepared massive batch of turkey jalfrezi for Edinburgh's homeless people on Christmas Day. He said: "Not doing anything that day, I decided to put my time to do something for others." He also rallied other curry houses to donate £1 from every meal to the Pakistan flood appeal.
First contacted the Samaritans as a caller when self-harming and suicidal. Now national chairperson, she credits the Samaritans for having turned her life around. She joined as a volunteer, and rose through the ranks. Colleagues say she is "extraordinarily together, and full of energy, drive and wit."
Passionate about heritage, she initiated and runs Stockwood Discovery Centre and gardens in Luton, one of Britain's most imaginative local history museums. As chief executive, her enthusiasm and love of artefacts and atmosphere from bygone eras has created a vibrant centre.
In 1985, she set up the Helen Bamber Foundation, to help rebuild the lives of victims of torture and human rights violations. At 20, she went to Belsen to help rehabilitate survivors, later taking responsibility for Auschwitz orphans. She's still working at 86, advising organisations from Belfast to Sri Lanka.
London-based commercial property adviser who founded Wherever the Need, a charity raising money from businesses to fund sanitation and water facilities in India and Africa. The projects are long-term and sustainable; investors can see what is being done. Brings dignity as well as clean water.
Chief executive of Ipswich and Suffolk Council for Racial Equality working to build links across a diverse population. Generates events of "honest talk and careful listening", where young and old discuss problems, and develop mentoring projects. Said to have "a tiny budget, a large heart and tireless energy".
Former stuntman, swimmer and entertainer, he invented wind-up radios which bring news and entertainment to places where both batteries and electricity are sparse. Since 2003, more than 400,000 Lifeline radios have gone to communities in at least 40 countries, and reached some six million people.
After her family was thrown out of a museum for being "too noisy", this writer and film-maker set up Kids in Museums to make the places more family friendly. Dea believes a museum visit can transform a child's life, and every child should have that opportunity without being told off.
A children's eye nurse from Kent who devised a procedure to help youngsters with squints manage wearing their patches. Has lectured in Vancouver and New Zealand, preventing children from becoming functionally blind. Colleagues say: "She is charismatic – someone you'd never forget."
Improved the simple and economical waterwheel from 500BC, for use in developing countries through his and wife Ingrid's Pedley Waterwheel Trust. Since bringing power to an isolated Sri Lankan village in 1998, the trust has kitted out six villages with efficient waterwheels, saving on kerosene.
The founder of Phones4U also started the Caudwell Children charity in Stoke-on-Trent, and covers its costs. Rapidly expanding and, with Robbie Williams as an ambassador, it has helped raise and donate more than £13m for equipment and therapy for sick and disabled youngsters in the UK since 2000.
Helen and Dave Channing
They have given a caring home to more than 60 children in Torpoint, Devon over 33 years. Their nominator says: "They demonstrate unswerving commitment to all the children they look after, always going the extra mile. They never look for any returns, just to make a positive and lasting difference."
An example of how imagination can make a fortune for charity. Since 2004, her idea of 100 "pink ladies" on decorated tractors driving around Norfolk has raised more than £150,000 for Cancer Research UK. Her determination and organisation have grown the event, she aims to reach £200,000 this year.
Working with the Man Utd Foundation, he educates and motivates young people to build better lives and communities. The nominator says: "Inspirational. His contribution is phenomenal, nothing is too much trouble. Simply a coach grafting day in, day out, to make a difference for kids in Wythenshawe."
Charlie and Lola
Billed as "everyone's favourite brother and sister", appearing in books and on TV, they've given great pleasure to many children by their capering through everyday escapades. They released an 18-track album in 2007 and their Best Bestest Play is touring this year. Brainchildren of Lauren Child.
Passionately highlights the case for a national network of umbilical cord blood banks. This material can be used to treat around 80 diseases and conditions, from spinal disorders to diabetes and leukaemia. She's also a model for political spouses who want to use their position to make a difference.
When Lyn's son was murdered, she forgave his killers and used her tragedy to help others. Through the Prison Fellowship's Restorative Justice course, this Liverpool woman tells prisoners her story to help them realise the impact that crimes have. Her testimony has inspired many to change course.
Following a diving accident 29 years ago, David became confined to a wheelchair. He continued his design studies, and with two friends formed the Bristol-based charity Motivation, which sets up workshop training for wheelchair users all over the world to design and manufacture wheelchairs.
The Big Society in one person. She is, or has been, chairwoman of Visit Kent, trustee of Canterbury Cathedral and Kent Wildlife Trust, vice president of the Canterbury Festival, chair of young people's charity Fairbridge Kent, magistrate for 20 years, school governor, and president of the Kent Girl Guides.
Much-maligned bird and producer of one of the happiest sounds in nature – unless, of course, you're a meadow pipit, dunnock, or reed warbler. Its call is one of the great harbingers of spring, and cuckoos also perform the useful function of hoovering up large quantities of hairy caterpillars.
Director of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust whose work has led to habitat improvements – meaning more flowers and more bees. He manages the BCT team, based at the University of Stirling, and is now trying to reinstate the short-haired bumblebee, which is extinct in the UK.
From Plymouth, a brilliant sporting role model, making an amazing comeback after taking a battering at the 2008 Olympics. Currently, World and Commonwealth Champion, he performed the second perfect dive of his career at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, with 10s from all seven judges.
This Edinburgh nurse gave up her job to develop Scottish Love in Action, a charity that feeds, clothes, houses, educates and provides medical care for more than 500 destitute children in India. The children, who before her help scavenged rubbish, call her Gillie Amma, meaning Gillie mother.
The chief executive of Meningitis UK, from Bristol, he lost his 14-month-old son Spencer to the disease in 1982. Since then, he has raised millions of pounds to fund vaccine research into meningitis B, the most common form. Has walked the equivalent of halfway around the world to save lives.
Runs Hollytrees Animal Rescue in Birmingham which answers calls 24 hours a day. With 35 years' experience, he is expert at coaxing and caring for scared creatures. Using his specially adapted net made from four football goals, he is an ace at catching loose animals on motorways.
Made history in 2008 by persuading British embassies across Europe to fly the rainbow flag to highlight the lack of gay rights in former Soviet republics. First prevailed upon our man in Latvia to hang the flag outside the embassy for Riga's Pride parade, with repeat performances in Warsaw and Brazil.
A fine example of the dedicated volunteering which helps the nation's family-tree tracers. Has spent every spare moment since 2005 surveying and plotting approximately 10,100 graves in Ryde cemetery, Isle of Wight, on to 56 maps. Even a map showing the layout of his maps is available online.
Described as having "a voice in her hands", she signs for the hard-of-hearing for the National Theatre, English and Welsh National Operas, GMTV, and even on film sets. Standing on stage alongside performers, she sometimes has to express the dialogue of six or seven characters at a time.
Through Surf Action, this former Gulf War soldier helps combat veterans with disabilities to rehabilitate by surfing off Cornwall's beaches. Surf instructors working with those injured in Northern Ireland and Iraq see huge improvements to the vets' balance, mental strength and confidence.
It is not often that gold-medal winning talent is combined with modesty and good manners, but world heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis has all three in spades. A rare role model in sport, Jessica, from Sheffield, could teach Wayne Rooney a thing or two about how to celebrate success.
Mick and Linda Fitter
This retired couple have been wardens at Butcher's Wood, West Sussex for decades. They coppice, cutting sticks of hazel for wattle-and-daub building, with proceeds going to Woodland Trust funds. Their stewardship improves wildlife habitats, and the woods supply sticks for the Ditchling Morris Dancers.
Volunteers with the Kindness Offensive who specialise in persuading companies to give away food and toys. Last year, they distributed 40 tonnes of food and toys to the homeless and needy in London. "Our aims are to have fun, be kind, and inspire as many people as possible to do the same."
An inspiring Gravesend woman who is representative of the many adult literacy teachers. For five years she has run her class despite funding being cut. Her nominator says: "The group supports each other through illness and depression while striving to unlock the world of reading. Lovely lady."
Susie's parents died 17 years ago, and had been supported by the North London Hospice. She organised a concert in her local church, St Jude's, to raise money for the hospice, and the concert's success encouraged her to hold more. Since then, the Proms at St Jude's music festival has flourished.
Turned an eco crusade into a successful community project in Swansea. Since 2002, she has collected unwanted household, office, or garden items for the project's shop – a godsend for homeless people moving into accommodation, or those on low incomes. The shop is also a community drop-in.
A shining example of a village stalwart. She is 79, and runs a farm with her husband, but still tirelessly raises funds for Knowles Tooth Children's and Family Centre in Hurstpierpoint, West Sussex, delivers eggs to villagers, is a steadfast member of the parish church, and much more besides.
Awarded an OBE for services to humanitarian aid after launching Shelterbox in 2000, now the world's largest Rotary Club project. The Cornish charity delivers emergency shelter, warmth, and dignity to tsunami, typhoon, hurricane, volcano, earthquake and conflict victims in 65 countries.
For 30 years she has kept Swing Gate School youngsters safe in Berkhamsted, diligently and cheerfully turning out in all weathers. She remembers all the 172 children's birthdays, and gives each a handmade card and tiny gift – every one personally delivered, even during the school holidays.
Concert pianist and classical artiste, but also unpaid president and ambassador for the Liszt Society which celebrates the bicentenary of the composer's birth this year. Does untold hours of lecturing to increase people's enjoyment of Franz Liszt, and extend his music to wider audience.
Reginald D Hunter
One of the funniest men in Britain, as he proves whenever he appears on Have I Got News For You? Born in the United States to the kind of mother and father who don't win parenting awards, he came to Britain, trained as an actor, and found his vocation at a pub's comedy night.
Previously a Moss Side teacher producing some of the UK's best GCSE results, she now leads Reclaim, an award-winning preventative youth crime project in Manchester. Runs successful projects for young people of Afro-Caribbean descent, and for teenage Muslims, helping build confidence.
The brains behind the designs of the iPod, iPad and iPhone, bringing pleasure to millions. Even those who are fed up with Apple slapping an "i" in front of a gadget and claiming it is a "must-have" can appreciate what this Essex boy has done for Britain's standing in the world of style.
Here as representative of the BBC Natural History unit in Bristol. The unit pioneered computer-controlled time-lapse camera techniques, non-invasive infra-red-triggered "boulder-cam", "bamboo-cam" filming wild pandas, and mini cameras on backs of birds. Now that's reality TV.
As a drug dealer who was shot in the leg and jailed twice before he was 23, he was in a cell with a man coming off heroin and "I realised what my profession did." Through the Prince's Trust, he developed mentoring skills, and now runs Just4Youth courses in Middlesbrough on money and drug awareness.
If anyone knows how to reassure anxious patients, it's this Abergavenny doctor who took 14 years to complete her studies. She was the first Briton to have all her major organs transplanted – heart, lungs, liver and kidney – the result of cystic fibrosis, diagnosed when she was six weeks old.
Pat and Ian Johns
Sailing into well-earned retirement after 37 years at the station in Newhaven, East Sussex, coxswain Ian has been out on 630 services saving 337 lives. Meanwhile, wife Pat has put in 31 years as volunteer press officer. Just two examples of the dedication and courage of those in the RNLI.
Deserted his music career to create the Joshua Project in Great Horton, Bradford. By organising youth clubs, football training, boxing, and one-to-one relational support, he's fighting crime, drug and alcohol abuse, violence and dysfunctional family life. More than 250 young people benefit every week.
Had just begun his round in Llanfairfechan, when he saw flames at the top window of a house. After repeated searches in dense smoke, he found an elderly lady and two dogs inside, and led them to safety. An example of what can happen when someone puts people before risk assessments.
Provides care for animals from homes that have been torn apart by domestic violence. After leaving a violent partner, she became an animal fosterer in Devon through the RSPCA's Pet Retreat service and now helps when pets aren't allowed into refuges or temporary housing.
Started the Greenhouse Bethwin Football Club in Peckham in 2000, which now has 520 players. In a poor part of London troubled by gang culture, he's making a positive difference to the community. The club also runs holiday training programmes, mentoring and guidance.
Coventry woman who turned the heartache of losing three babies at birth into a mission to save thousands of mothers and newborns from the same fate. Founded Baby Lifeline 30 years ago, and has raised more than £8m to pay for neo-natal equipment, training and research.
As well as three decades of chart hits, she is also an Oxfam ambassador. She initiated the Sing campaign, inspired by Nelson Mandela in 2007, that helps women and children affected by Aids. Has donated tour profits to Amnesty International and Greenpeace, and is a Unesco goodwill ambassador.
After meeting Edward, a 14-year-old in Malawi whose mother was dying of Aids and who had insufficient food to attend school, MacFarlane-Barrow founded Mary's Meals, a Scottish charity feeding half a million children daily in 16 of the poorest countries. Now has 30 staff and 10,000 volunteers.
Director who has reinvigorated the British Museum, captivating nearly six million visitors last year. His compelling Radio 4 series, A History of the World in 100 Objects, presenting world history through British Museum treasures, was rightly regarded as a "triumph and a classic".
No sportsman did more to put a smile on our faces in the past year. While England flopped at the World Cup, this Northern Irish golfer did what only one other Briton has done since 1920: he won the US Open. He then clinched the Ryder Cup. Supports diverse charities – Premier League footballers please note.
Has won the Gold badge, the highest honour the RNLI conveys on its fund-raisers, for her 27 years of volunteering. Her husband and son are both volunteers at Jersey's St Catherine's lifeboat station. Between them the family has been involved with the island's RNLI for more than 60 years.
Stand-up comic entertained 500,000 during his 54-date sell-out arena tour in 2009 – a lot of happy people. But he's included for a show he didn't give, cancelling 30 minutes before curtain up after discovering the audience was mostly debt collectors – a "profession" he'd had experience of before success.
Pat, from Dunmurry, Northern Ireland, has spent the past 10 years volunteering for the Huntington's Disease Association after losing both her son and husband to the illness. Now her second son is symptomatic, and another child is at risk, but she still manages a 24/7 helpline for sufferers and relatives.
After his mother was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, this teenager campaigned on the importance of vitamin D in preventing the disease. He organised a march and petition to the Scottish Parliament, plus a summit, with experts from 19 countries. Scotland has a public awareness programme now.
Bubbly actress, born in Namibia, who speaks five languages, she brings history to life for youngsters as a guide on the Golden Hinde, a replica of Sir Francis Drake's ship. Working in costume every day, she runs school groups' living history sleepovers, Tudor battle and maritime workshops.
Actress and campaigner
Harry Potter's Professor Sprout, and a proudly Jewish actress speaking out against injustice in Gaza. Dedicated to understanding both sides of the Israeli-Palestine conflict, she visited charity projects in the West Bank last year, and is patron of a Middle East peace and justice organisation.
Thanks to her tireless work, Eaves housing and the Poppy Project have provided shelter and help for hundreds of victims of domestic violence and human trafficking. This year, she handed back her OBE, saying that cuts would leave her unable to provide proper support to vulnerable women.
Sir George Martin
Made honorary Doctor of Music by Oxford University, still active in music business and charitable work. After the capital of Montserrat was devastated by a volcano, he spearheaded the funding for a $2m arts and events venue where islanders can stage festivals, exhibitions and debating contests.
A stand-up who has no choice but to perform sitting down, Francesca Martinez has faced down stereotypes about disability while making the nation laugh. Her latest project is a documentary where she goes in search of a "normal" person called What The Hell Is Normal!?!'
In 1991, this Surrey man founded Chernobyl Children's Life Line, which brings youngsters from Belarus and Ukraine suffering effects of the 1986 nuclear disaster to stay with UK families. Around 46,000 have benefited, caesium levels in their blood are lowered, and they return home in better health.
UK's fastest-growing online parenting organisation. Community-centred, it gives advice and information on local activities, support groups, and organisations. Highlighted post-natal depression and kids' junk food. Advises MPs and food industry. Professional online "drop-in" clinics assist with problems.
Shakespearean actor and the best pantomime villain in the business. Brilliantly solved recherché murders in sleepy Middle England villages while never taking any of it very seriously. Then, detecting looming Midsomer row over racial purity in imaginary rural communities, he retired.
Youngest team-member in Les Bourgs' hospice shop, in Guernsey, Emily lost her sight in one eye at age 11 and only has moderate vision in the other. Diagnosed with cerebral palsy, she is mildly autistic, asthmatic, and has obsessive-compulsive disorder. Engages a young audience about hospice work at school.
Double bass player, Academy professor and brilliant ambassador for music. She is also a founder of the world-renowned Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment that plays classical music on original instruments, as it was intended to be heard. She plays a 17th-century instrument made in 1631.
Not a billionaire philanthropist, but may do more to address poverty as his "Giving What We Can" scheme catches on. The Oxford academic has pledged to give £1m over his lifetime by donating a third of his salary. Has recruited more than 100 people to give at least 10 per cent of their salary for life.
Along with his Russian aristocratic and intrepid relatives, he illuminates our lounges expounding his proud struggle to live a simples life running compare themeerkat.com. This is despite being plagued by people seeking car insurance. Example of how ads can be more entertaining than TV programmes.
Natural scientist, photographer, and bringer of expert knowledge and a friendly manner to the BBC's stunningly pleasureful Springwatch and Autumnwatch. He is also president of such bodies as the Bat Conservation Trust, and involved with many more, such as The Wildlife Trusts.
Bryn and Emma Parry
When former soldier Bryn Parry and his wife Emma organised a bicycle ride to raise £10,000 for wounded servicemen, they could hardly have predicted the enormous charity it would become. Now Help For Heroes raises more than £20m annually, funding rehabilitation projects across the country.
Chief officer of Avon Fire Authority who volunteered a 22 per cent pay cut to help save frontline services. He says: "I promised to start at the top with the cost-cutting exercise. The savings will protect jobs in the longer term." If only over-paid council chiefs would do the same.
Former investment banker who first encountered the Royal London Society for the Blind on losing his sight at 39. Now chief executive, his team works to ensure that every blind or partially sighted child gets the same life chances as their sighted peers. Also president of the European Guide Dog Federation.
St Helens and international rugby league player who, despite being given just months to live when diagnosed in 2006 with a rare form of stomach cancer, has raised vast amounts of money by undertaking a series of gruelling runs and challenges. His Steve Prescott Foundation is an inspiration to many.
The Rev Jean Prosser
A priest in charge of a Monmouthshire parish, she set up the Village Alive Trust after renovating Llangattock Lingoed church, Abergavenny, in 2003. Farmers with derelict listed-buildings got in touch and the group has since renovated 10 listed buildings and is restoring its third church.
Since his daughter Anne was diagnosed with leukaemia in 2004, aged three, Neil has thrown himself into helping Cancer Research UK. He supports the Little Star Awards, is a Cancer Campaigns Ambassador, helps write books for the Children's Cancer and Leukaemia Group, and competes in triathlons.
Previously working in advertising, he founded Prison Radio for inmates across the UK, equipping them with not only a service of their own but also employable skills. Also chairman of the London Advisory Group of Common Purpose, and sits on the Development Board of the Royal Court theatre.
His brilliant Birth of Britain series did for geology what his Time Team has done for archaeology. His questing approach, free of silly voices and larky nonsense, brings intelligence to the popularising of complex subjects. His name on a series guarantees it will be accessible, but not dumbed-down.
Derby-born, at 15 she ran away from an arranged marriage, and was disowned by her British Asian family and community. She founded Karma Nirvana, a charity that supports victims and survivors of forced marriage and "honour"-based abuse, and raises awareness of these issues.
Famous for sharp news sense and techni-coloured accessories, he is also patron of several charities including Reprieve, which helps prisoners facing the death penalty or rendered to secret prisons. He also champions Trees for Cities, which not only plants them, but trains youngsters in caring for them.
This Edmonton man has been a Red Cross volunteer for an astonishing 58 years, specialising in giving first aid lessons to the deaf. He completely lost his hearing at the age of two after a bout of meningitis. He then took first-aid lessons, and was soon helping with the Red Cross.
Created We Are What We Do, encouraging millions of people to do more small, good, enjoyable things for others – planting a tree, teaching someone how to use the internet, starting a car pool. Ideas from local community consultation are acted on through schools or other programmes.
Campaigner & actress
While continuing to entertain the nation with her acting, Juliet Stevenson seems to dedicate every spare moment to campaigning. She says she deliberately chooses "unsexy" subjects, such as the plight of asylum seekers in Britain, in the hope that she can help raise awareness of their cause.
"An angel on Earth, serene, calm and reassuring" is how patients have described this Macmillan cancer nurse. She makes a massive difference to people's lives at Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre in Oxford, and was named as the country's top cancer nurse by the Nursing Times in 2010.
When not studying at West Cheshire College, he translates for Polish migrants in Wrexham – everything from insurance forms to helping pregnant women at the doctor's. Young gold ambassador for the Olympics and Paralympics, he's also won a Diana Award for commitment and citizenship.
Co-founder of the Henna Foundation, a Cardiff-based group which helps Asian women, children and families affected by "honour"-based violence, forced marriage and domestic violence. Shahien's no-nonsense, committed attitude has won her respect from community groups, police, judges and ministers.
Chief executive of Action for Children, the charity which helps the UK's most vulnerable and neglected youngsters and their families, powered by her passion, commitment and drive. She is also involved with Praxis, which supports refugees and migrants, and the Guinness Trust, a housing charity.
Treo the Labrador
Now retired, won the Dickin Medal (the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross) for sniffing out bombs in Helmand, Afghanistan, while with 104 Military Working Dog Support Unit. Treo, from Rutland, joins 32 Second World War messenger pigeons, three horses, a cat, and 26 other dogs in the honour.
A lion-hearted eight-year-old who, since losing his sight to cancer, has championed the rights of disabled children. Attends mainstream Watford school, and plays football and dodgeball. Member of Hertfordshire's Children's Forum, spoke to 40 delegates on the inclusion of kids with disabilities.
Alias Sildenafil citrate, (patent WOWO9849166A1), and originally a drug to lower men's blood pressure. But, since 1999, Viagra has enabled millions of males to raise their game in other respects. It's small, it's blue, and it's included here because it's given pleasure to so many.
Wenlock and Mandeville
2012 Olympic Mascots
Globular duo representing London 2012 Games. Named after Baron Pierre de Coubertin's inspirational visit to Much Wenlock Games, resulting in modern Olympics, and Stoke Mandeville's 1948 Paralympics birthplace. The pair, with their single-camera eyeballs, have engaged youngsters with sport.
Tireless charity worker for more than 40 years, she brought Teens and Toddlers over from the US. The organisation helps disadvantaged teens mentor similar nursery tots. It teaches responsibility and helps the young fulfil their potential. Since 2001, it has aided 7,000 young people and children.
Mancunian who runs Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum (England), an incredible support network for those dying from asbestos-related cancers. Forcefully speaks out on compensation decisions and continued international asbestos mining. Heads support groups for asbestos victims and their families.
Eddie and Pat Williams
Retired husband-and-wife team runs Willow Wildlife Rescue from their home in Chislehurst, caring for foxes, geese, sheep and other animals. Their ambulance operates 24-hours a day, equipped with cages, boxes and nets for any casualty, and animals are treated with homeopathic remedies.
As an undergraduate at the University of Nottingham, he collected schools' unused textbooks and shipped them to schools in Tanzania, where the curriculum is similar to ours. Founded Read International, and has now sent almost a million books to Tanzanian and Ugandan teachers and children.
Made the most innovative television history programme ever with his Story of England, chronicling the country's development through the tale of one village, Kibworth in Leicestershire. At last a television historian who thinks the story he has to relate is more important than he is.
Neil Woodmansey & his dog Holly
Search and rescue dog handler
Neil is Lincolnshire team manager for UK International Search and Rescue, the agency responsible for responding to overseas disasters. A member since 1995, he is on stand-by 365 days a year. He and Holly received an MBE for bravery and dedication to duty in Pakistan after the 2005 earthquake.
Who did we miss out? Have your say
Because this roll call of the top 100 Britons eschews the celebration of wealth and celebrity as ends in themselves, The IoS Happy List relies on you, the readers, to sing the praises of the otherwise unsung. So, who have we missed? Let us know who you would like to see on the Happy List and we will publish the results and consider your nominations for next year.
Leave your suggestions below or send them, with reasons why you think they deserve to be on the list, via email to: email@example.com or write to: The Editor, The Independent on Sunday, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5HF