Stockton on Tees’ Ruth Benson has been recognised by the local panel of the Halifax Giving Extra Awards for the fantastic work she has done to support disabled children in Teeside by setting up and running the charity SNAPS (Special Needs Activities with Parent Support).
Nominated by Amanda Notman, who attends the group with her child, Ruth has gone above and beyond for the people in her community. The Giving Extra Awards is a key programme through which Halifax helps the Group deliver its Helping Britain Prosper Plan and its commitment to be the banking Group that brings communities together to help them thrive.
SNAPS supports children and families across the whole Tees Valley area, providing activities and support for the whole family. Ruth has been running SNAPs for the past 15 years. Last summer SNAPS supported over 2,300 people from across the area.
Ruth said: “I was overwhelmed and very, very pleased to even have been nominated, and I am over the moon to find out I won. I want to thank the many, many people who give their time to help me – as the group SNAPS could simply not happen without them.”
Edinburgh’s Gordon Aikman, nominated by his friend and fellow campaigner Lawrence Cowan, has also won a Halifax Giving Extra Award. Gordon has been recognised for his inspirational fundraising and campaigning since being diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (MND).
At the age of 29 Gordon was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease. In the next year it is likely he will lose the ability to eat, talk, walk and breathe. It will kill him. He launched the “Gordon’s Fightback” campaign to fund a cure and fight for better care for people with MND. In the seven months since his diagnosis he has raised over £220,000 for MND research; and raised a huge amount of profile for the fight against the disease.
Gordon said: “I am absolutely delighted. This award is testament to hard work and generosity of the thousands of people who have got behind Gordon’s Fightback. With less than 100 days to go until the General Election, I am calling on all political parties to promise to double MND research funding. It is simple: the more we invest, the quicker we will find a cure.”
Other winners include:
· Lizzy Toms, Blackburn – recognised for her inspirational work for children and young adults with her charity TheAllTogether Social Trust and nominated by her husband Andy Toms. Lizzy founded and now runs The AllTogether Social Trust, a group that caters for children and young adults with disabilities, their siblings and parents. She works unstintingly to provide sporting, arts and crafts activities for children. The group has more than 180 members and is an invaluable source of enjoyment and support for many families.
· Michelle King, Peterborough – recognised for founding Little Miracles, a charity that supports families with children who have additional needs, disabilities and life limiting conditions. Nominated by her mother Jo-Anne Halford. Michelle’s son was born severely disabled and on returning home following 15 months in hospital, they struggled to get the support they needed. In 2010, Michelle founded Little Miracles, a charity that supports families with children that have additional needs, disabilities and life limiting conditions. They now have six branches and improve the quality of life for over 5000 children and their parents. Michelle works tirelessly as a volunteer to benefit the families that Little Miracles supports. Further information can be found at: www.littlemiraclescharity.org.uk
· Wendy Uttley, Bingley – recognised for the years of her life she has dedicated to setting up and running the Bradford Down Symptom Training and Support Service. Nominated by Johanne Smith, a parent of one of the children the charity supports. Wendy has provided countless hours of training to both parents and professionals. She has made a massive impact to the babies and young children that have attended the development groups, activity sessions, speech and language sessions and other dedicated training workshops. The Group currently supports 40 infants with Down syndrome and provides language sessions for 50 people with Down syndrome aged over five.
· Graham Field, Denbigh – recognised for teaching countless youngsters karate – including many children with disabilities. Nominated by Hayley Davies, a parent of one of the children who attends the club. Graham has been teaching martial arts to children in the local area for the past 10 years at the group he set up called Elite Martial Arts. He teaches 70 to 80 young people a week, four nights a week. Graham does all this alongside his day job as a policeman.
· Daniel Caroll, Sothall – recognised for raising thousands of pounds for the local hospital which helped him recover from Anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis. Nominated by his brother-in-law, Ian Davison. In 2012, whilst on holiday in Crete, Daniel was suddenly taken ill, hospitalised and induced into a coma. After 12 days in Athens, Greece, he was flown back to the UK where he was treated at the Sheffield Hallamshire Hospital’s Neurocritical Care unit. Eventually diagnosed with anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis, an acute inflammation of the brain caused by an auto-immune reaction, Daniel spent nine months in hospital and has to return regularly for ongoing tests. Daniel has had to learn to walk and perform many everyday functions all over again. Daniel now spends his time helping others through volunteering at the Osborn 4 neuro-rehabilitation ward at the Northern General Hospital, where he did his neuro-rehabilitation, and helping to raise funds for the Northern General Helipad Appeal. His first fundraiser raised over £2,400 and he is currently organising a Strictly Pie and Peas night for Thursday 02 April which will feature a Michael Bublé tribute act and local dance troupe Drapers, as well as the European Ballroom Champions who will help judge the dancing competition. Further information can be found by enquiring at the Northern General Hospital.
The 67 regional Halifax Giving Extra Award winners will each receive £300 in bonus bond vouchers. The national winner, announced later in February, will receive a further £2,500 in bonus bond vouchers and a £2,500 donation to a good cause of their choice.
David Nicholson, Group Director, Halifax Community Bank, said: “As the bank that is committed to helping Britain prosper by bringing communities closer together, we believe that we should recognise and celebrate people like Ruth and Gordon who are catalysts for positive and lasting change. We’re proud to give extra back to a worthy winner with this Award.”
Halifax continues to recognise those who are always going the extra mile for people in their community with the Halifax Giving Extra Awards. Halifax branches received thousands of nominations, which ranged from:
- inspiring individuals who have founded charities and foundations, as well as those who regularly go above and beyond to raise money for charitable causes
- those who go the extra mile and give a huge amount of time and effort to improve their community – opening centres for local people to enjoy, helping coach youth teams or running social clubs
- as well as people who lend their support to the vulnerable and those in need, organising food banks, soup kitchens or support groups offering counselling or practical advice
Nominations for the Halifax Giving Extra Awards, in association with Global’s Capital and Heart brands, were made online or in Halifax branches throughout October and November, and judging took place in January. www.halifax.co.uk/givingextraawards#GivingExtraBack.