We live in an age of endless news. Inescapably, it creeps in via shares on social media and on screens in the most unlikely places. News stories can leave me in tears, and often, they can make me angry. Balance matters and it is important to seek out the good stories. The Pride of Britain awards does that, televised on ITV last night, it is phenomenally popular in terms of ratings because we all need a reminder there are some incredible individuals doing brilliant things.
You might remember that earlier in the year I partnered with TSB Local Pride to highlight positive community initiatives, highlighting Little Libraries a project local to me, set up by a local mum to share books in green spaces.
The Pride of Britain awards reminds us that there are many people doing good for others. The winners are people like you and me who having faced a difficulty, fought it. Saw a problem and found a way to solve it. A reminder that we all have strengths we might not appreciate and of the good things that ordinary people do for others.
TSB Community Partner Award
Fraser Johnston the TSB Community Partner Award Winner, is a perfect example of how one person can make big changes with a simple idea. Fraser set up a scheme to take elderly people from local care homes out on his trishaw bike to combat loneliness by getting them out into the community. A video of his story went viral, proving how much we all appreciate the amazing things that people do. He now has a team of volunteers who have raised thousands of pounds.
Fraser represents what TSB Local Pride is all about; that ‘people helping people is a good thing for all of us’. The fact that so many people have responded to the video shows that we are invested in a sense of community, helping others matters.
My home city of Bristol has a thriving community vibe, with plenty of projects and events that bring the various neighbourhoods and people in this multicultural city together. The life time achievement award went to Bristolian Dr Paul Stephenson OBE, a man who is part of the history of the city. Someone who made changes locally which had an impact across the UK. Lenny Henry on giving him the award described Dr Stephenson as “a giant”. A campaigner against discrimination in the Sixties, his actions paved the way for the first anti-discrimination laws. He went on to partner with Mohammed Ali to create a sports foundation for BME children to access sport. He continues to be a voice for change at the age of 80. It was lovely to see him take to the stage, despite ill health, and collect his award.
The award that moved me most was the This Morning Emergency Services Award: The Grenfell firefighters. People doing their job in the most extreme circumstances. Grenfell Tower, from the initial unfolding on our TV screens to the continuing pursuit for answers and justice, is an event I’ve had a strong emotional reaction to: Both sadness and anger. While too many lost their lives, many more were saved by the selfless actions of the firefighters repeatedly entering the tower. Hearing their own stories and seeing again the memorable photographs of huge numbers of firefighters, exhausted outside the tower but ready to return. The Duke of Cambridge presented their award and also a special recognition award to the Grenfell Community.
Grenfell highlighted the strength of community, a real mix of people, many with little to give except time, energy and care. Coming together from different faiths and backgrounds to support and rebuild. A positive affirmation in the darkest of times. The Grenfell Community represents the vital strength of people helping people.
Partnering the Pride of Britain Awards, and celebrating the special things that people do for their communities, is part of TSB’s commitment to local communities. Discover more winners from the night here.
Disclosure: this post is in partnership with TSB Pride of Britain. All words and opinions are my own.