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North East Covid Heroes Revealed

Friday, 05 November, 2021

The regional public health campaign, BeatCovidNE has today announced the winners of the Covid Acts of Kindness Community Award. The Award was launched last month to celebrate outstanding individuals in local communities across the region and is backed by  seven North East local authorities (LA7).

Grateful North Easterners nominated those who had raised money, donated time, or rallied communities to recognise their acts of kindness and to say ‘thank you’.

 

The seven winners, one from each of the seven North East local authority areas, have been revealed. They are:

 

  • Sunderland’s Winner: Richard Beck, 74-years-old, Seaburn, Sunderland

    Richard and his wife – both long standing volunteers at Fulwell Community Library – created comprehensive Covid support plans to help those in need within their local community. At the beginning of lockdown, they both fell seriously ill with the virus and Richard lost his wife to Covid. Despite his loss, he continued to lead the team of volunteers at Fulwell Community Library – the heart of the local community – determined to deliver the Covid support the couple had planned together.

    He said: “I just can’t believe that I was nominated and have won this award. I’m truly humbled. Fulwell Community Library is now in its fourth year and I’m really proud to be a part of the library’s team of volunteers. We are all volunteers, no one is paid but we are all committed to ensuring the library helps as many people as it can within our local community.

    “We had a real setback with Covid but together we were able to continue to support our local community. Now, thanks to grants from The National Lottery and Key Fund the library is back open with improved facilities. We now have a bigger café, new computers and are better placed to host functions. I’m now looking forward to the future and what we can do next to help our local community.”

  • Gateshead’s Winner: Christine Frazer, 39-years-old, Dunston, Gateshead

    Throughout lockdown, Christine became the heart of her local community. Every day, she took time out to support those in need within her community. From picking up and delivering shopping to taking calls from those who felt lonely and just needed to chat. To help cheer everyone up, Christine posted about her daily walks on Facebook and was always offering ways to help others. Her energy, drive and commitment to supporting others are truly inspiring. Thanks to her daily acts of kindness, which continue to this day, she brought the community together and helped spread some positivity.

    She said: “I am totally flabbergasted and deeply honoured that I was nominated for this award. To win is brilliant because I get to tell everyone about all of the amazing people who helped me to be kind during Covid.

 

“I insist that we make kindness a legacy of Covid. We can not merely be kind for a finite amount of time. Lockdown may be over, but human beings need kindness to live. Let’s use this award to ‘kick start kindness’ for generations to come across the North East.”

  • Newcastle’s Winner: MD Mominul Hamid, 29-years-old, Newcastle

    MD Mominul Hamid, worked alongside Migration and Justice Forum to deliver essentials on his bike to vulnerable asylum seekers across the West End of Newcastle throughout the pandemic. Today he continues to volunteer at Covid vaccination clinics and play an instrumental role in encouraging others from the refugee and asylum seeker community, and the Bangladeshi community, to get vaccinated. He is a truly inspirational person who has and continues to give so much to communities right across Newcastle.

    He said: “I am honoured and really happy today after getting this prestigious recognition from my community. As an asylum seeker, it’s more difficult to engage with society but I am conscious of the difficulties faced by vulnerable people in our community.

    “In every part of society, I am happy that I have been able to give some support to other people in difficult situations. I want to dedicate this recognition to my community and the people of Newcastle and my beloved mom, family, friends and my university.”

  • North Tyneside’s Winner: Pamela Hood, 73-years-old, Whitley Bay, North Tyneside

    Pamela created a daily Covid comms hub for her church group. She sent out daily emails covering the latest local news, Covid updates and community events. Today her Covid hub mailing list includes over 120 members and counting.

 

Determined to continue helping people however she could, Pamela also set up a mobile bookshop. She turned her whole house into a warehouse of books. Anyone could request a book in exchange for a small donation which was passed onto the local church. She made around 50 house calls per week whilst being the carer for her husband. Pamela is a kind and inspirational woman who has touched the lives of many within her local community.

She said: “Being nominated and finding out I was a winner of Covid Acts of Kindness Award was a total shock. It has blown me away quite frankly. I felt passionate about trying to keep our church family connected and if my contribution has helped to do this then mission accomplished.”

  • South Tyneside’s Winner: Lee Hughes, 51-years-old, Jarrow, South Tyneside

    A pub landlord at Perth Avenue’s Red Hackle, Lee was forced to close the doors in March 2020. Overnight he went from pulling pints to preparing home-cooked meals and delivering them to vulnerable residents in his local community – all free of charge. When a local food bank needed premises, Lee welcomed the volunteers to use his pub as their base. Despite the challenges his business faced he was committed to ensuring he could do all he could to continue to support his local community.

    He said: “I am humbled to have been nominated for this award. However, I want to explain that I didn’t do this act of kindness to achieve or receive any recognition. This was all done as an act of community spirit.”

  • Durham’s Winner: Alfie Dixon-Clark,14-years-old, Peterlee, Durham

    During lockdown, Alfie used money that he’d saved for his birthday to buy supplies to create coronavirus survival packs – full of chocolate, colouring pages and other helpful items which he delivered to youngsters across County Durham.

 

Known locally as ‘Alf the Kid’, he handed out over 1,000 packs during the pandemic by using his weekly pocket money to keep the project going, and thanks to donations from the local community. The Academy at Shotton Hall pupil also created special VE Day bags for care home residents and to this day is continuing to do all he can to support others. Through his many acts of kindness, Alfie has shown that no matter what your age you can make a difference.

He said: “I am really happy to receive the Covid Act of Kindness Award. It shows that kids can take an active role in supporting the wellbeing of others. It also shows that the North East is a place that will always unite and that together, we can, we will, and we do make a positive difference. Thank you!”

  • Northumberland’s Winner: Kischa Gair, 30-years-old, Morpeth, Northumberland

    At the beginning of lockdown, the mum of two created a Facebook Covid support group for the four villages around Ellington. The group is still running today and has over 700 members. With Kischa at its engine, the group shared local and Covid updates, initiated psychological and home education support as well as delivered shopping and food parcels to vulnerable residents by joining up with existing local initiatives.

She said: “Whilst it’s so lovely and heartwarming to have recognition of my efforts during lockdown, I’d like to emphasise that none of this would have been possible without the help of my entire community.

 

“From food donations to packing parcels and handing out activity packs – all of my neighbours have clubbed together to make sure everyone is okay. We are a small but mighty region and I’m proud to be from this corner of the globe.”

Commenting on behalf of LA7, chair of the Association of Directors of Public Health North East and Director of Public Health for County Durham, Amanda Healy, said: “First and foremost I’d like to thank everyone who submitted a nomination. We were overwhelmed by the number of inspiring acts of Covid kindness we received from right across the region.

“Our seven winners, aged from 14 to over 70 years-old, are a testament to the fact that no matter your age you can make a difference. Their varied acts of kindness demonstrate the power of the north east spirit.

“Myself and my fellow judges were humbled to read all of the nominations. Although it was an extremely hard decision we are delighted to announce these seven winners as those who truly embody the region’s renowned goodwill.

“Please join us in celebrating the outstanding acts of kindness our winners have carried out during the pandemic; supporting neighbours, families, friends and communities. Help spread the word to encourage everyone to think about what we can all do to be kind to each other this winter.

 

“The fact that all of our winners are continuing to support their local communities is a reminder that Covid is still circulating in our communities. Infection rates are rising and our hospitals are continuing to see Covid admissions increase and sadly, people are dying from this dreadful virus. This year flu and Covid are circulating at the same time. The most important thing we can all do to slow the spread of Covid is to take up all recommended doses of the vaccine and get the flu jab, at the earliest opportunity.

“It’s important we also remember that simple acts of kindness – such as wearing face coverings in crowded places, socially distancing when out and about, meeting outdoors when possible, self-testing regularly and isolating if we test positive – help to protect each other and those at risk.”

Amanda Healy was joined on the judging panel by the Reverend Canon Michael Everitt, at Durham Cathedral. As well as two BeatCovidNE campaign stars, Holly Turner, a sister on Ward 12, a respiratory support unit at Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital, Cramlington. And, Amii Stewart, a Neighbourhood Beat Manager with Northumbria Police – who also volunteers as a personal assistant supporting a local family with day-to-day tasks.

In November, all seven winners will be invited to their individual local civic centres to be recognised for their civic service to their local community.

To find out more about the award visit, www.beatcovidne.co.uk and use the hashtag #NECovidKindnes to congratulate and shine a light on our winners.


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