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Happy List 2021: The Independent celebrates 50 inspirational people driving positive change in Britain

Now it’s time for some good news. Meet 50 remarkable people whose kindness, courage and selflessness make them some of the country’s most outstanding individuals

Emma Ledger
Tuesday 14 September 2021 09:33 BST

Today The Independent publishes its annual Happy List, honouring 50 remarkable Britons whose kindness, ingenuity and dedication make them some of the country’s most inspirational individuals.

The people here have been chosen by a panel from scores of nominations from you, the readers of The Independent. They appear in alphabetical order as it would be impossible to measure the achievements of these individuals against each other.

They include a 16-year-old who spent lockdown making videos to teach people sign language; a couple who raffled off their Lake District home to support the charity that saved their daughter’s life; an NHS worker who set up an international support group for the Covid-bereaved; and the 99-year-old fundraiser who got on her bike every day for two months.

The Happy List was founded in 2008 by the Independent journalist and author David Randall, who died in July this year at the age of 70. David created the list as an antidote to the many awards that glorify wealth or celebrity; instead, he wanted to celebrate “the unsung people whose extraordinary efforts have gone unrecognised outside their own circles and communities.

“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, fundraising or caring”. This year’s Happy List is dedicated to David, who did so much to shine a light on those who give rather than take, and who help others rather than line their own pockets.

This year the Happy List is once again presented in partnership with GoFundMe, the world’s largest online fundraising platform.

The past 12 months have seen unprecedented global uncertainty, political warfare and climate turmoil. Working together and strengthening communities have never felt more important. We can’t possibly celebrate everyone who deserves it but thank you to all who nominated someone. Read about all 50 of 2021’s Happy Listers here:

Naima Ben-Moussa

Plasterer Naima pledged to work for free to redecorate the homes of anyone who has been in abusive relationships, after helping one young mother whose house had “holes in walls from punches”. Naima, 36, from Buxton, Derbyshire, herself a survivor of abuse, launched an online fundraiser to help cover the cost of materials, saying “let’s bring the happiness back into these people’s lives”. So far, she’s raised more than £66,000.

Katie Berrill

“Katie is an inspiration and deserves recognition for her amazing work,” says the person who nominated this mum-of-two from Northampton. In 2017 Katie was diagnosed with Stargardt's – an inherited disorder of the retina – and told she would eventually go blind. After finding little support available, Katie set up an online support group called Katie’s Vision to help other young people diagnosed with vision loss and their families. “On a daily basis, Katie raises awareness to educate and inform others about the condition and create a community for those who are experiencing sight loss. She makes sure that no one feels alone.”

Tom Birkett

When lorry driver Tom, 35, from Kendal saw a man sitting on the edge of a bridge across a motorway he immediately slowed and parked underneath him. Police arrived to talk to the man, and Tom stayed put until he was prevented from jumping and taken to safety. The man’s mother, who did not wish to be named, is convinced that Tom saved her son, who had been struggling with his mental health but is now receiving help. Father-of-three Tom refuses to believe he is a hero, instead praising the police for the way they handled the situation. One of the many who nominated Tom says, “what he did restores my faith in human beings”.

Elizabeth Birrell

After developing a love for riding her bike during lockdown, this spring 73-year-old Elizabeth from Cellardyke in Fife set herself the challenge of cycling 1,000 miles to raise money for the Progressive Supranuclear Palsy Association (PSPA), the only UK charity dedicated to improving the lives of people living with the rare brain disease. Elizabeth has been a keen PSPA supporter since her husband died of PSP six years ago; so far she has raised more than £70,000. “Elizabeth’s passion for raising both funds and awareness continues to inspire,” says one of those who nominated her.

John Butler

Four years ago, 84-year-old John started making videos – with the help of a friend – of him talking about meditation, his beliefs and his life. Despite never having heard of YouTube and “hardly” knowing what the internet was, John’s YouTube channel now has more than 168,000 subscribers. Fans credit John enhancing and refocusing their lives, with one of those who nominated him saying; “John’s easy warmth, gentleness and goodness feel like something solid to cling to in turbulent times. He has affected my life so positively, in ways he’ll never know.” John follows no particular teachings, rather he suggests to his followers, “feel your feet on the ground – listen and look”.

Siena Castellon

When 18-year-old Londoner Siena Castellon was diagnosed with autism as a child, she struggled to find resources she could relate to. At 16, she created her own website to mentor and support children with learning differences and also founded the school campaign Neurodiversity Celebration Week. “I know how challenging it is to have a learning difference,” says Siena. “I have Asperger’s, dyslexia, dyspraxia and ADHD, as well as anxiety, hypermobility, synesthesia and a sensory processing disorder. I was bullied for most of my childhood but I have learnt how to succeed despite the obstacles I have faced. I’m finally happy and doing well academically and socially. By sharing my experiences and the knowledge I have gained along the way, I hope to help kids like me have a smoother school experience.”

Henry Cleary

In May 2020, seven-year-old Henry from Buckinghamshire set himself a challenge to run a marathon over 10 days to raise money for charity Crisis after worrying about people with no home during the pandemic. Henry managed to complete the 26.22 miles in just nine days, and hundreds of people came to support him as he crossed the finish line. Having originally set out to raise £262, Henry has so far raised more than £10,000 and is planning to take on a new challenge for World Homeless Day in October.

Oli Coles

Established soon after the first lockdown, not-for-profit campaign Hospitality for Heroes was set up by Oli with the mission of supplying NHS staff with healthy, restaurant-quality meals prepared by local chefs. The initiative has since delivered more than 126,000 dishes to 20 NHS hospitals, and this May also organised an online fundraising concert, featuring performances by Mel C, Clean Bandit and James Blunt, that was streamed in hospitals across the country. Former digital marketing boss Oli, from Chipping Norton, says: “I have shifted my focus to only work on projects that do good, whether that’s raising money for charities in need or encouraging widespread positive wellbeing.”

Louise Cooke

Clothing poverty has been significantly worsened by Covid, creating a busy time for Sharewear, Britain’s largest provider of free clothing and bedding to the vulnerable. Louise Cooke is CEO and founder of the charity, and those who nominated her spoke of her endless positivity and determination to help those in need. Sharewear’s flagship clothes bank in Nottingham (it opened a second centre in Sheffield in January) made bulk deliveries to London, the Rhondda Valley, Hull, Wakefield, Brigg, Lincoln, Scunthorpe and Derby during the pandemic, coping with a 33 per cent increase in annual demand for clothes.

Michael Cullen

Michael, aka SpeedoMick, is currently on a 2,000 mile, five-month trek across the UK and Ireland, on a mission to give back to the people who supported him in the past. “Charities looking after people experiencing homelessness, mental ill health and disadvantaged young people are very close to my heart as I’ve been through those struggles,” says Michael, who has raised almost £40,000 already. As well as raising funds he is looking for other worthy charities to give to through his foundation, set up to provide support for young people through education, relieving poverty, or the support of mental and physical health.

Tyrese Dibba

Many of us tried to learn a new skill over the past 18 months, but 16-year-old Tyrese from Birmingham has busied himself by teaching one. Tyrese, who has Charge syndrome, is deaf and partially sighted, and alongside attending school during lockdown he volunteered to teach people British Sign Language (BSL) online. In his self-styled lessons he transformed himself into “Mr Tyrese”, wearing a tie and braces, and became such a hit that so far he’s reached more than 80,000 people. Tyrese says: “I want more people to learn to sign, so deaf people don’t get excluded. You should be able to chat to someone, whatever their disability might be. After all, no one likes feeling left out.”

Jacqui Drake

“She’s an absolute dynamo!” says the person who nominated Jacqui. “She is determined to raise awareness of skin cancer and change behaviours to foster a healthier respect of the sun, starting in childhood. She is an inspirational force.” Jacqui, 58 from Bradford, has stage four skin cancer (melanoma). She had her first melanoma in her twenties, but after having a mole removed from her leg, it returned 17 years later. As well as fundraising, Jacqui has raised an incredible £250,000 for Leeds Hospitals Charity for the Leeds Cancer Centre, and her campaign Jacqui’s Million aims to raise one million pounds to benefit all cancer sufferers. She has also co-written a book on sun protection for children and is staging a cabaret show as part of her fundraising mission.

Dr Azhar Farooqi

Having seen his city of Leicester suffer the devastation of Covid, GP Azhar Farooqi was determined to protect his most vulnerable patients by encouraging them to get the vaccine. Along with colleagues and other practice staff, Dr Farooqi managed to call around 300 patients, and around 70 per cent of those contacted took up the offer of a vaccine after a conversation. The key, Dr Farooqi says, is simply to listen to people’s concerns. “You’ve got to go into it without being too dogmatic or dictatorial, and explain why it is actually really important. It has been amazing, I don’t think we expected this level of success.” NHS managers in Leicester subsequently looked at rolling out the scheme across more areas in the city.

Michael Fleming

Pastor Mick Fleming has worked tirelessly to ensure those most in need survive the pandemic. Working as part of charity Church on the Street Ministries in Burnley, one of England’s most deprived districts, Mick has helped raise more than £250,000 to feed and clothe the poor. He visits more than 10 homes every day, seven days a week, sorting everything from a new freezer for a family to providing hot meals for the homeless. Mick turned his back on a life of crime to become a priest dedicated to his community, and one who nominated him says “so many owe so much to his endless love and care”.

Howard and Gemma Francis

Gemma, from Essex, and Londoner Howard founded community choir The BIG Sing 10 years ago. The charity’s choir practice sessions have been running online throughout lockdown, providing much-needed support and community to many, and more than 700 schools have used their online singing workshops. Before the pandemic the charity was singing with more than a thousand people every week, from babies, kids, teenagers and adults to grandparents. One of those who nominated the couple says: “The BIG Sing has supported so many of us through difficult times, particularly helping with mental health issues. We would be lost without them.”

Ruth Gilchrist and Tracey Atkins

Last year best friends Ruth and Tracey began volunteering at the YHA Bristol, a St Mungo’s-run hostel offering emergency accommodation to people without a home. Friends for more than 30 years, the pair have been praised for providing invaluable support to staff and clients at the hostel. Each of them volunteered twice a week throughout the pandemic for more than 1,500 hours, going above and beyond the basic volunteering requirements to come up with unique ways to boost morale, such as bringing in homemade cakes each week for staff and residents.

Ali Ghaderi

As a teen Ali fled Iran fearing for his life and found himself alone on the streets of Greece, separated from his family and with no support network. He was able to join family members in London under the EU’s Dublin Regulation, and he has since wholly embraced British life. Ali translates documents into Farsi for charity Fences and Frontiers, which works with refugees and asylum seekers. He also works with Safe Passage, a charity that helps child refugee in Europe who needs support getting to safety, and co-delivers drama workshops for refugee youth groups with Phosphoros theatre.

Victoria Gray

A decade ago Victoria Gray set up charity Give a Book to ensure that prisoners have access to a broad range of reading material, with titles that cover a range of reading abilities. Today the initiative operates in more than 60 prisons, with Prison Reading Groups as well as providing books for parents in prison to read with their children over the phone. The person who nominated Victoria says “during lockdown prisoners’ access to libraries was placed under further restrictions. The charity made sure there was access to books, a pleasure and even a lifeline for many”. The charity now also works with schools and community projects to support reading for pleasure, running reading projects and breakfast book clubs with schools in disadvantaged areas.

Robin Hanbury-Tenison

Former explorer Robin, 81, spent five weeks in an induced coma with Covid-19, and his family were told to prepare for the worst. His recovery from the virus culminated in him climbing the summit of Cornwall’s highest mountain, Brown Willy, and raising £100,000 for the hospital that saved his life. The co-founder of human rights organisation Survival International, Robin started the climb five months on from the day he came out of hospital. The money raised will be used to create a healing garden at Treliske.

Amina Hatia

Midwife and mum-of-four Amina from northwest London had left maternity wards 18 months before the pandemic struck, but when the call to action came she jumped back in. She even fitted her frontline NHS shifts around part-time work on charity Tommy’s Pregnancy Line, offering information and advice to expectant parents and those going through loss. Amina is an ambassador for the charity, helping to create expert content for its online Pregnancy Hub and speaking at events, as well as sharing her expertise with specialist organisations such as Muslim Mamas. The person who nominated her says: “Amina gives her time and energy so generously to help families have the best possible birth experience, no matter who they are or where they live.”

Kelly-Marie Hearsum

Tillicoultry shop worker Kelly-Marie collected donations of food, toiletries and other goods to create hampers for those in need in her local community. “The aim isn’t just to help people with food, but also to let them know they’re not alone in these tough times,” says Kelly-Marie, who has fibromyalgia. “Just something little to put a smile on someone’s face.” The hampers reached vulnerable people across Clackmannanshire, distributed by Home Start, Scottish Autism, Trust Housing, Women’s Aid, local care homes and food banks. “One act of kindness can make a huge difference,” says Kelly-Marie.

Emma Hepburn

“I draw psychology,” is how Dr Emma Hepburn, more commonly known as The Psychology Mum, sums up her work. The NHS psychologist from Aberdeen has made hundreds of illustrations on Instagram to explain and destigmatise mental health issues, helping to improve understanding and enable people to express how they feel. Covering everything from the impact of becoming a parent on mental health to fears around re-entering “normal” life after Covid, praise for Dr Hepburn’s work includes this from one fan during the pandemic: “I can relate to this [illustration] so much, this makes me feel seen – and it makes me feel better.”

Grace Lamont

Glasgow’s Jeely Piece Club is the city’s only purpose built play centre for children up to 12 years. When the pandemic struck, it could have shut its doors, but instead Grace and the team set about creating and distributing food bags to local families in need in Castlemilk. They also delivered play packs, arts and crafts packs and some outdoor equipment. “Grace is an absolute star,” says one of those who nominated her. “She does whatever it takes to increase the opportunities for children, as well as adults in the wider community. Her whole philosophy is about doing what you can to give others a helping hand. We should all be more like her.”

Steven Lightfoot

Steven and his team at Pudsey Computers near Leeds have repaired hundreds of laptops and tablets to be distributed to children in West Yorkshire who don’t have their own. “It’s about every person in the household having access to a device,” says father-of-three Steven, who fixes the tech which is donated by the community. Now, a local school trust is aiming to expand the scheme.

Montgomery Lord

Montgomery (Monty) Lord, from Walton-Le-Dale in Preston, is on a mission to improve education and mental health awareness by boosting memory. At the age of just 14, Monty created a free Alexa app that provides mental health advice to young people, before going on to set up charity Young Active Minds. Monty shares the specialist memory training methods that helped him to win multiple Guinness World Records as a child. Monty – now aged 15 – is an official TEDx talks speaker, and will soon begin rolling out his enhanced memory techniques to children and staff in several schools, as well as community groups.

Julie Lomax Newton

When Julie, from Golborne, Greater Manchester, was an inpatient at the 10-bed Ashwood Court independent mental health hospital she started volunteering at the site’s sister residential unit, which houses less acute patients. Upon Julie’s discharge in August 2020, she committed to returning to the hospital to continue her volunteering. The 60-year-old now gives her time five days a week and has been called “the best volunteer” the hospital has ever had, while Julie says that volunteering at Ashwood Court is an inspiration to her.

Issy Martin

Since Issy was diagnosed with blood cancer acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) and Philadelphia chromosome positive (a rare leukaemia subtype that affects only around 3-4 per cent of children with ALL) she has spent many months in hospital. In November 2019, Issy decided she wanted to give back to those who care for her at The Royal Marsden and started fundraising for The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity under her initiative Issy’s Silver Linings. Issy rallied family and friends, doing everything from creating masks to holding Zoom quizzes, sponsored walks and baking challenges, all while she continued her chemotherapy. Issy finished her cancer treatment last month, and to date she has raised more than £26,000.

Emma Morgan

Swansea dance teacher Emma launched a free eight-week programme for children during lockdown to teach little ones movement, language and motor skills. Emma, who runs Tiny Toes Ballet school, also provided free ballet fit classes to adults and special virtual sessions for patients and staff at Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospital in Cardiff. Emma says “ballet is full of so many attributes that are beneficial to the development of the whole child. We’re passionate about the value of dance. This is my way of supporting my community, keeping children learning and their families smiling.”

Liam Meyer

When Liam, a videographer for the NHS, lost his dad to Covid last year, he set up a support group on Facebook for the bereaved. The Alone Together support group now has 1,000 members, from as far afield as Australia. But it was after realising that the men in the group were struggling to talk about their mental health that Liam set himself a challenge to raise funds for men’s health charity Movember. Earlier this summer he completed a 2,000 mile motorbike ride from Land’s End to John O’Groats in memory of his father, meeting up with members of his support group along the route. “Many men struggle to find the words to express what’s going on for them,” says Liam. “When men vocalise their grief, they can start to find a path out of the darkness, and must lean on each other in those tough times.”

Beritha Muzondo

Although battling cancer herself, Beritha took it upon herself to deliver food parcels and hot meals to those in need in her community. Beritha particularly sought to help vulnerable black and minority ethnic women, men and children affected by Covid, reaching out to 72 people in the Bedford area to make sure they felt supported. She even trekked through the snow in early 2021 to make sure people had what they needed. Daughter Aayeesha, who nominated Beritha, says: “I’m so proud of my mum throughout the past 18 months. Despite what she has been going through with her cancer treatment, she always puts people in our community before herself and constantly wants to help others.”

Diana O’Flynn

This is a woman who finds it difficult to stay still. During lockdown, 99-year-old Diana asked her granddaughter to buy her an exercise bike. She was used to going on several daily walks and found the change of pace difficult to adjust to. Soon she decided to do a sponsored “bike ride”, aiming to use her indoor bike for an hour every day for two months. Dubbed Around the Sitting Room in 80 Days (@aroundthesittingroomin80days), Diana’s challenge has so far raised over £4,500 for West London Mission, an initiative set up by Diana’s great grandmother in 1887 to help empower people affected by homelessness, poverty and trauma.

Hetvi Parekh

Hetvi, a 37-year-old social worker from Nottingham, has coordinated more than 50 tons of food donations to food banks, charities, homeless people and schools across the county. Hetvi is the leader of the regional branch of charity Sewa Day, founded on the universal concept of sewa, which involves performing an act of kindness without expectation of reward. “She is an inspiration to us all,” says one of those who nominated Hetvi. “She absolutely embodies sewa; we should all be more Hetvi.”

Sally and Maddie Penni

Manchester lawyer Sally Penni, 41, and her six-year-old daughter Maddie, began writing a book together during lockdown when home-schooling left them feeling uninspired. The book, Rosie and the Unicorn, champions diversity and celebrates inclusion, with all profits going to the NHS, Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital and Young Minds. Sally, who had to shield throughout lockdown, says “our family is dual heritage and it is so important for children to see picture book heroes and heroines who look like them. Not all little girls have long blonde hair and big blue eyes. The story celebrates multiculturalism, love and kindness, and community cohesion.

Anjali Raman-Middleton

This inspiring 17-year-old is co-founder of Choked Up, a campaign founded by sixth-formers pushing for changes to clean-air laws to protect communities. Anjali grew up with Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah, who became the first person in the UK to have air pollution listed as the cause of her death when she died aged nine. Choked Up campaigns and lobbies to see that changes are made to improve air quality and prevent further tragedies. “I am terrified that my daily commute to school along the South Circular has already had a negative impact on my lungs,” says Anjali. “I urge London mayoral candidates to commit to transform these roads to give me and my generation a greener future.”

Sandra Richardson

Former youth worker Sandra from Liverpool has terminal breast cancer. After being admitted to the Marie Curie Hospice in June Sandra decided to do something to show her appreciation to all the staff who had shown her so much kindness. She started an online fundraiser, encouraging people to download a copy of her self-penned poetry book Most Women I Know, and post a video of themselves reading their favourite poem. Within a week, the fundraiser had amassed more than £7,000 in donations and received support from news broadcaster Jon Snow, poet Benjamin Zephaniah and actor Alison Steadman, who all shared their own videos. Sandra has now raised more than £17,500.

Sandra sadly died on Wednesday 25 August 2021 at the Marie Curie hospice in Liverpool. Her fundraising is now on £21,059. Her family will be establishing a scholarship fund in her name to help young queer people publish their books

Lindsay Robinson

Have You Seen That Girl? is an award-winning campaign founded by Lindsay Robinson, from Dundonald, County Down, to raise awareness of maternal mental health. Lindsay created the movement to break stigma surrounding maternal mental health and to provide sign-posting, support and community. Working closely with the Northern Ireland Executive, Lindsay has campaigned for improved services for new mums, helping to secure funding for new multidisciplinary community perinatal mental health teams in all of Northern Ireland’s health and social care trusts.

Sandra Speck

“A legend in our world,” is how Sandra is described by one of those who nominated her. This fundraising champion has raised more than £140,000 for Midlands Air Ambulance Charity over 10 years, and she’s only just getting started. Sandra hosts dance clubs across Shropshire to fundraise, and switched to zoom events during lockdown to continue to support those who are lonely and isolated. Her efforts have helped fund 138 lifesaving air ambulance and critical care car missions.

Mary Strutt

When the pandemic struck, Mary was in her final year of an engineering course at Southampton University, studying to become a ship designer. She began volunteering at the Nightingale Hospital for St John Ambulance, giving more than 300 hours of volunteering since last April, and found it so rewarding she decided to completely change course to pursue a career in healthcare. Mary, who is originally from Derbyshire, is now a healthcare assistant working with respiratory patients in Southampton General Hospital’s high dependency unit. She is also a volunteer vaccination lead and a member of the emergency ambulance crew for St John Ambulance as well as being the face of its new #AskMe campaign.

Rosie Turner

For more than 10 years, senior zookeeper Rosie has worked at international conservation charity ZSL (Zoological Society of London), which runs ZSL London and Whipsnade Zoos. Forced to close for almost 16 weeks during three lockdowns, the zoos were under huge financial pressure to continue to feed and care for their 30,000 animals and fund the charity’s global conservation efforts. To help raise vital funds Rosie, alongside her husband Bob, walked the 35 miles from ZSL London Zoo to ZSL Whipsnade Zoo in one day, amassing more than £2,500 in donations. “During an unprecedented year Rosie, showed her incredible dedication to wildlife – outside of work – to help support ZSL during the most challenging period of its almost 200-year existence”, says Mark Holden, team leader at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo.

Bashir Uddin

When it became clear the Bangladeshi community was being hit disproportionately hard by Covid-19 during the first wave of the pandemic, Bangla Housing Association chief executive Bashir quickly worked to establish the Bangla Covid-19 Advice Project. The initiative provides free advice, as well as translating official leaflets and videos, for the Bangladeshi community. Based in Hackney, east London, Bashir’s efforts were praised for making an “exceptional contribution to life in London”.

Sophie Unwin

Sophie is the founder of Glasgow’s Remade Network, an initiative aiming to reduce inequality and address the climate crisis. It works collaboratively with communities across Glasgow to set household repair services for computers, clothes and electrical goods and repurpose old tech, and get it in the hands of those who need it most. Sophie, who is originally from London, but has lived in Scotland for over 13 years, is passionate about moving away from a throwaway society, helping those who are socially isolated to access online support and education and centering the voices of communities in creating change. Refurbishing old computers doesn’t just mean that communities benefit. Over the past year, the project has also saved more than 250 tons of carbon dioxide – equivalent to 2,000 flights from Glasgow to Amsterdam.

Oliver Voysey

When charity the Lake District Calvert Trust was at risk of closure due to the pandemic, 13-year-old-Oliver set out to raise £25,000 to save it. So far, he has raised almost £250,000. After suffering a brain injury when he was just two days old, Oliver was left blind and with cerebral palsy, epilepsy, autism and learning difficulties. Two years ago, the Calvert Trust opened up Oliver’s world, taking him and his family on outdoor adventures together – something Oliver loves because it allows him to be free from his brain injury, as he says “everyone is the same there”. For more than 40 years, the Lake District Calvert Trust has enabled those with disabilities to enjoy the benefits of outdoor activities, and thanks to Oliver’s efforts, the charity is still going.

Samantha and Steve Wilkinson

This couple from Dalton-on-Furness raffled off their house in the Lake District for £2.50 a ticket and donated the proceeds – more than £50,000 – to help fund research into neuroblastoma, a rare childhood cancer. Samantha and Steve chose to support Neuroblastoma UK after their daughter Oonagh was diagnosed in 2019 when she was just 19 months old. Oonagh is now four years old and clear of cancer, and the raffle was her parents’ way of saying thank you.

Max Woosey

This 11-year-old from Braunton, Devon, camped out in his garden for a whole year in memory of neighbour Rick Abbott who gave him a tent to “have an adventure in” before he died of cancer. Not only did Max raise more than £556,000 for the North Devon Hospice, which helped care for his neighbour Rick, Max also encouraged more than 1,000 children around the world to take part in a “big camp-out”. Children from America to Singapore took part in the challenge, raising a further £500,000 for charity.

Bailey Woozeer

“Not many 10-year-olds seek to influence a government department and change policy,” says the person who nominated Bailey. This inspiring youngster is on a mission to create an annual school fundraising day for animals, and she has tirelessly contacted charities to help achieve her aim. So far more than 27,500 people have signed Bailey’s petition, with charities including Border Collie Rescue welcoming her idea as a way of raising awareness of animal welfare issues amongst children. The Department for Education will be forced to listen if she gets just a few thousand more signatures, which is pretty likely as her nominator says “Bailey does not give up”.

David Young

Like so many care workers, David, from Caithness in the Scottish Highlands, continued to work throughout the pandemic. Concerned that he might risk bringing Covid home to his 84-year-old mother and 59-year-old wife, who were both shielding, David – who is a support worker for the social care charity Community Integrated Care – moved out of the family home and into the greenhouse in his garden to allow him to continue working. He went weeks without any face-to-face interaction with his family to minimise any risk, and in total David spent just under four months in the greenhouse.

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