After a round of public nominations where you told us why these everyday, ordinary people went above and beyond, our panel of judges set to work sifting through their stories and what their actions meant to people and their local communities.
After whittling it down to 20 finalists it is now up to you, the public, to pick your top ten.
Simply visit our website www.bigthankyouawards.co.uk and click the 'Public Vote' button and from here you can cast your free vote. It is one vote per person.
At the start of the pandemic when Boris Johnson called for volunteers to support the NHS, Shelagh, worried about public protection, decided to produce facemasks for the local community, on her sewing machine at home. She appealed for volunteers to help and to date, Shelagh and her team of 207 volunteers have made and delivered 62,239 facemasks to 1004 organisations from care homes to schools and churches. Throughout the pandemic they worked day and night and from the start of September have made and delivered more than 13,000 masks for local secondary schools, supporting disadvantaged children, those on Pupil Premium and free school meals. Shelagh's Sewing Circle is now evolving to become a charity.
Ira B Silverman is the owner and proprietor of Ira B's Snack Bar in Leeds. Throughout the height of the pandemic, especially when the first lockdown was introduced, she tirelessly cooked then delivered food to various NHS hospitals and hospices in Leeds and Wharfedale. Although she asked for donations to help with costs she gave her time freely and sometimes worked 20 hour days to cook then deliver the food. A lot of the food costs were paid for by Ira herself when the budget overrun the money given. Ira also helped plan and stage a wedding for a bride with Motor Neurone disease by drafting in services who gave time and products for free.
Annette Marie Kite
Annette has a cleaning business in Ripon but with Covid 19 pretty much stopping her from working she decided to help the elderly and vulnerable around the area by cooking meals for them. It wasn’t just a couple of hundred meals here, it was thousands and thousands, home cooked and not ‘microwave meals’ with plenty of effort as well as ingredients and delivered weekly around the area. She worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic making sure others are fed and cared for without a thought for herself, despite having an injury herself.
Arnie and the team at City Taxis and citygrab have been nominated for support to Weston Park Cancer Charity. After launching a new venture, ‘citygrab’, in February, during the month of May the team donated their delivery fees each weekend to local charities, including £6769.69 to Weston Park’s charity. Five thousand stickers with cancer support information were put in taxis so people knew the charity was still on the phone and ready to help. City Taxis also posted on social media channels and distributed more than 10,000 information leaflets through the citygrab orders, meaning the charity was able to reach people potentially affected by cancer and wouldn’t have known the organisation was here to help.
All staff and volunteers at Baby Basics worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to support vulnerable families. Even volunteers who were shielding supported from home, sewing, knitting, baking cakes, washing, ironing and those able to still be on the ground have packed up thousands of bundles of clothing, toiletries and other essential supplies to give out to the families who need them the most. The support allowed health professionals and other charity workers to be able to continue to meet the needs of the families they work with while the increased pressure on their workload meant they were extremely stretched.
Described by her own mum as an “inspiration all round”. The 8-year-old girl has been making face masks to raise money for the charity treating her grandfather’s cancer. The idea came about when Mollie-Anne and her family found out that he was fighting cancer again after two previously failed remissions. Macmillan and Cancer Research are two of the charities helping through his treatment, so Mollie-Anne decided she wanted to raise money for them. She learned how to use a sewing machine then set about making the masks, putting them in cellophane bags with a special tag that she has also made herself. In just one week she made £100.
He grew up in Pontefract and runs a local shop and has been nominated for these awards 13 times by separate people. He has given away bags of free food to families in need during lockdown and has also set up a delivery service at his own expense, let people have tabs who are short of money and helped out wherever he can with free giveaways and competitions. One nominee called him “a real life superhero” and said he should be recognised for all his hard work and kindness because he’s got a heart of gold and would help anybody and always goes the extra mile.
Francesca and Carol Floris
Within two days of the announcement of the national lockdown in March, Francesca and Carole had set up the East and West Ayton COVID 19 volunteer group to support people who were self isolating. Over 50 volunteers were recruited from the two villages and leaflets were delivered to every household explaining that the volunteers group could help with shopping, picking up prescriptions, walking the dog or offering a listening ear. With support of East and West Ayton Parish Councils, a steering group was set up and links formed with Ayton Surgery and the local pharmacy to provide an extra two days of home deliveries.
When lockdown was announced in March, Charlotte who is a community dance practitioner, floated the idea of running dance sessions on the street. Neighbours admit they thought it was going to be a few weeks but she ended up leading 78 sessions for her neighbours aged between six months old and 94. As well as this she was leading her usual community sessions online and also dancing in care homes. As well as the Big Thank You Awards 2020, Charlotte has been shortlisted for the One Dance UK Inspirational Community Dance Practitioner Award with a ceremony set to take place on Friday.
Chloe, aged 8, was nominated by her mum Emily. She has put Chloe forward for the award saying she is a bright, enthusiastic, motivated and “truly wonderful” young lady who has gone above and beyond to raise awareness and funds to support the vital work of the Children’s Air Ambulance and improve the lives of critically ill babies and children in Doncaster and beyond.
Daniel set up WF3 Kindness, a community support group for the Tingley, Ardsley and Thorpe areas while he was laid in his hospital bed after having a spinal operation. He leads.a team of volunteers who provide vital support to the most vulnerable. They provide food hampers to people struggling to feed families; distribute ‘Kindness Packages’ to people in need of a pick me up; offer practical help with tasks around the home; collect prescriptions for those unable or too anxious to go out; provide mental health support through a registered, qualified and insured counsellor and give gifts to some of the most deprived children in the area.
A breakfast club has been feeding the homeless and hungry at St Peter’s Church, Harrogate for the last 20 years and Hannah Beck has been at the helm. When lockdowns began she kept it going and didn’t give up, but increased support to her usual people plus plenty more who found they couldn't afford food during the lockdown. She provided take away breakfasts and evening dinner six days a week, plus a meal at lunchtime on a Sunday. More than 2500 meals were given in the first couple of months alone and people were given food without having to explain their misfortune and without judgement.
Team of Volunteer Drivers
A team of nine volunteer drivers from a community hub in Nidderdale run a community transport service using a community car. During the crisis they borrowed a minibus from fellow local charity, Dementia Forward, and gave their time for free to transport residents to hospital and GP appointments, deliver prescriptions to people self isolating, transport essential health equipment for the North Yorkshire NHS Clinical Commissioning Group to care homes in Harrogate and GP practices and to transport food parcels, food shopping, library books and jigsaws and other supplies to support people in their own homes.
An 86-year-old ex serving ambulance man who suffers from multiple health conditions and requires nursing care in a home. He felt the nursing team in Leeds/ Meanwood who support elderly people to lead independent lives needed some recognition for their hard work and bravery during the first lockdown. Mr Wheatley decided to get specially made awards and medals for the nurses, each one individually made, to show his admiration and support for all their hard work. Mr Wheatley purchased the medals out of his own limited pension income.
Pitsmoor Adventure Playground
The playground is back open and has been delivering play sessions for children since the end of July and provides families from across Sheffield with opportunities to play, come together and share their experiences whilst also providing a safe space and secure support where and when appropriate. Branded a “Sheffield treasure”, staff and volunteers, often putting in 12 hour days, always go the extra mile and during the lockdown period they went across Sheffield delivering playpacks and sports equipment to the children whilst also helping out at food banks.
Leeds Dads, provides activities, meetups, and other support for dads. During lockdown, instead of their monthly playgroup meetings, they scheduled weekly park walks. They also did a food parcels delivery services to those who cannot get out and run an annual Dadstastic Day for the community and a Virtual Playhouse, as well as the #AskADad Facebook Lives. They have also worked with The Real Junk Food Project to get meals to people in need and continued their campaigning for parent mental health. Leeds Dads have really stood out as doing something different - while continuing to give a voice to fathers.
Cannon Hall Farm
The family run farm has been nominated seven times for bringing happiness to the whole of the country and beyond Barnsley during lockdowns by giving live broadcasts and filming tv programmes on and around the farm. Farmer Robert Nicholson broadcast live on Facebook throughout the whole of the first lockdown for a total of 132 consecutive days from 7.30am. He is intending to do the same in the second lockdown throughout this new lockdown. He has had a regular audience of many thousands of people and lifted spirits by bringing tales of farming life and showing off farm animals. Lives in lockdown would have been very different and difficult without these wonderful broadcasts, said one nominee.
Tickhill Community Connections
The organisation quickly came together in March as they realised that there was little support in the village if lockdown was to occur. This group of seven individuals did not know each other, it was all communicated via Facebook, while they all had jobs but made time to set up a properly constituted organisation. It is now registered with the charity commission, with a bank account and fundraises to provide support for the whole community by delivering prescriptions, picking up shopping, providing food and financial support and giving comfort calls to those that are lonely.
“Community spirit at its finest” said Mo’s nominee who also said he was a true inspiration. He took over Bengal Cottage takeaway in a small village in Leeds in 2019 and when the pandemic hit and elderly residents couldn’t leave due to the virus, he provided free meals to everyone without any questions asked. When the local shop in the village attempted to sell individual toilet rolls for £1 each, Mo decided to buy a pallet and distribute to everyone free of charge. With the current free school meals campaign he vowed to give free lunches to all families who need support.
Paul has cooked over 6,000 individual fresh meals which a team of volunteers has delivered to older and vulnerable people in Harrogate and Knaresborough since June. The deliveries are coordinated by local charity Supporting Older People (SOP). Paul cooks and freezes the food in his kitchen and caters for all dietary requirements.More than two tonnes of food have gone into over 60 recipes and more than 200 people are on a rota for meals with 160 being delivered each week. Paul initially crowd funded the project until SOP obtained grant funding.