The Monastery Manchester
In a ceremony at The Monastery, Manchester, on the 15th December 2022, 8 Honour’s Recipients received their medals from The Lord-Lieutenant. The Vice Lord-Lieutenant and all the recipients’ home town Mayors were also in attendance to help and to congratulate them all.
There were 7 recipients of the BEM and also a recipient of an Honorary MBE who attended with friends and family to celebrate their fantastic achievements in the wonderful setting of the Great Nave at The Monastery.
The recipients and their guests from across Greater Manchester listened to the citations which were read out by the Vice Lord-Lieutenant and broke into applause as each of the stories were revealed and each walked forward to receive their medals from the Lord-Lieutenant.
The recipients and their stories are as follows:
Helen Caroline Victoria BEDFORD-GAY – Trafford Borough – British Empire Medal
Helen has been committed to the Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva (FOP) community since receiving the devastating news that her son was diagnosed with the condition in 2009. FOP is one of the rarest, most disabling genetic conditions known to medicine imprisoning the body in a second skeleton.
Along with her husband, they set up and manage FOP Friends the only UK charity of its kind. When parents receive the diagnosis, they are often advised by the medical professionals not to search online as the results can be overwhelming and alarming, especially when first coming to terms with the news. Instead, families are signposted to Helen, recognising how much she is valued, trusted and respected. Helen then directs FOP patients and their families to the services which can help them.
Helen has worked with schools and health authorities, on behalf of families, spending hours creating individual Educational, Health and Care Plans. She liaises with teachers across the country ensuring that the condition is understood and FOP children are not disadvantaged during their educational journey. Due to its rarity, patients from across the world often get in touch with Helen to seek her advice due to her knowledge and dedication to help as many people as possible. In 2016, she founded the creative #FunFeet4FOP campaign to raise awareness and help prevent misdiagnoses. She also instigated and organised the first Family Respite Weekend dedicating a great deal of time securing funding to ensure no cost to the families. Through her charitable activities, she has led by example to build a highly connected and supportive community that has raised over £750,000 for research into the condition.
When her son was diagnosed, there was no charity, no treatment and no hope. Helen has irreversibly changed that.
Dorothy Margaret BOWKER – Wigan Borough – British Empire Medal
Dorothy had a vision for a community café and social supermarket and has been the driving force behind the Bridge at Leigh for over 5 years. It is run by thirty volunteers along with five paid staff, and provides a community café, social supermarket, wellness rooms as well as Just the Job, a programme supporting women into work.
The café opens five days a week and provides a valuable drop-in centre for people who are disadvantaged or lonely and in need of an affordable cup of tea or coffee. It has an activities programme teaching art and crafts and also provides valuable counselling services and mental health support classes.
The larger part of the charity’s work is the provision of the social supermarket. Set somewhere between a foodbank and a supermarket. For a payment of a £2 per week membership fee, people can come and buy their groceries from a very wide range of products for approximately 20% of the price of a regular supermarket. This helps many families with very little income whose children are living in food poverty. It is a source of inexpensive food with choices of what to buy offered in a non-judgemental and dignified way. Almost nothing is wasted. Through the Too Good to Go programme, surplus food can be bought for about 5% of the supermarket price to ensure very little is thrown away.
During lockdown the group packed and delivered around 100 food hampers per day both to their members and others who were in need. The 30 volunteers contribute over 20,000 hours per year to the programme and The Bridge was honoured with a Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service award in 2021.
Dorothy has worked tirelessly to ensure the success of this critical community resource.
Pamela Ann DUXBURY – Bolton Borough – British Empire Medal
Pamela has a background in counselling and volunteered for Age UK Bolton for 5 years before volunteering at Beacon Bolton Counselling Service. She has lived in Bolton all her life and has served the community as a counsellor for over two decades. For 11 years she volunteered as Co-ordinator, leading Beacon completely unpaid. It is only latterly that she has taken on a paid role at the organisation.
Beacon provides therapeutic counselling to anyone over the age of 16 years irrespective of race, religion, gender, or sexuality. Beacon’s volunteers are very diverse in terms of age, gender and race, reflecting the diverse community it serves. Volunteers undertake a variety of roles from Counsellors, administration support, receptionists and Trustees tirelessly led by Pamela as the Service Manager. When Beacon’s new counselling suite doubled their capacity, the former Leader of Bolton said ‘Resources are stretched across our health services and the voluntary sector is stepping up to take a lot of the pressure. The work Beacon is doing shines brighter than ever for those in need and seeking support.’
Alongside the general therapy that Beacon offers, it also provides a Sexual Abuse Victims and Survivors Group giving survivors of childhood sexual abuse aged 16 or over the opportunity to work within support groups facilitated by qualified counsellors trained in sexual abuse.
In 2021 Beacon was awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service and were specially recognised for their work throughout the Covid Pandemic.
Pamela has had a remarkable impact in Bolton both through her counselling and leadership of Beacon by offering a lifeline to many people with nowhere to turn whilst also providing an opportunity for people to experience and consider the field of counselling as a career.
Ann Denise LONSDALE – Bolton Borough – British Empire Medal
Committed to tackling inequality in the pursuit of justice and fairness, Denise has devoted her time to the people of Bolton. She has advised, fought and campaigned for people with a wide range of problems such as poverty, homelessness, unemployment, debts and mental health.
Originally seeking help from Bolton Advice Centre 40 years ago, she became a volunteer, subsequently helping thousands of people with their benefit claims, disability claims, housing problems and more. In an unpaid managerial role, she became the driving force behind the centre and became widely known and admired in the community and by leading figures in the town, including MPs, councillors, local officials as well as charity sector and statutory body leaders.
Due to her resourcefulness and determination, she kept the centre open with meagre funding and donations, despite it facing closure many times. When it lost core funding in 2019 she worked to successfully achieve charitable status, without which, the Centre would have closed. During the pandemic it was one of the few places where disadvantaged people were still able to get help. In addition, the Centre also distributed PPE and ran a vaccine awareness program for the community and Denise also volunteered, with a small group, making scrubs for healthcare workers who desperately needed them during the pandemic.
After securing funding to employ a full-time manager, she stepped back from the role but still dedicates her time as a volunteer to those who need her most. Over the last few years, she has lost her husband through a long painful illness, for which she is now trying to raise awareness of. She has also lost friends and other volunteers.
A true community hero, it is no wonder that the Centre is referred to by many as Denise’s Centre.
Michelle Angeline MCHALE – Trafford Borough – British Empire Medal
Michelle is a long-time volunteer and Trustee at Bridging The Gap, a traditional face-to-face food bank service for the communities of Hulme, Moss Side, Whalley Range and Old Trafford.
During the Covid Pandemic this service was no longer viable, but Michelle knew that people in the community would require more support during this incredibly difficult period. She took steps to adopt a food delivery model for the food bank, enabling them to continue to serve those most in need throughout the pandemic and increase the levels of assistance to meet the unprecedented increase in demand.
During the first four months of the crisis up to July 2020, the food bank provided 1343 parcels, feeding 1903 adults and 1153 children. This represented an increase of 345% over the same period in 2019. This expanded emergency response required considerable amounts of food and Michelle worked tirelessly to ensure increased supply and coordinated and encouraged support from individuals and organisations in the community. She coordinated partnerships with a number of different local authority response hubs and local organisations including churches, homeless shelters and schools, to not only secure support for the food bank but also to provide support for other organisations in need. This included helping a newly established homeless shelter to access the same support that her food bank had been afforded.
Michelle also established a school holiday programme as part of the food bank’s offering, providing school holiday parcels including food, activity packs, educational resources and reading books, to 174 local families.
Despite the Pandemic easing, demand remains exceptionally high, and Michelle continues to go above and beyond to look after those in need in her community.
Victoria SNELL – City of Salford Borough – British Empire Medal
When she was twenty Victoria broke her leg and despite numerous surgeries it did not heal. Six years later, she asked doctors to amputate it so that she could get on with her life. After learning how to walk again she celebrated her first-year amputee anniversary by running a 5k; this is the same woman, who also held a Let’s Get Vicky Legless Party, days before her amputation. This sums up her strength of character and determination.
Since then, she has been a one-woman powerhouse, determined to succeed in life and to support others along the way. In her job as a Customer Relations Manager for Transpenine Express she constantly helps customers who have not had the best experience with the service. She leads the relationship with key industry partners and helps to manage a busy appeal process and caseload volumes, making sure customers’ appeals are resolved correctly.
The rail industry’s reputation has taken quite a pummelling. It has also had to meet many challenges head on, ranging from major timetable changes, extreme weather conditions, the impact of the Manchester Terror Attack and not least the Covid Pandemic, affecting customers and their travel plans. Victoria has, almost single-handedly at times, managed to keep everything afloat and regularly delivers over and above to help both customers and colleagues.
Alongside this she is heavily involved in supporting others, not only throughout the wider rail industry, but also via her social media networks. Following the years of pain that she endured, she suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety but despite this, is passionate about inspiring and helping others through the many talks, presentations and media interviews that she has been involved with.
Victoria has been instrumental in providing wellbeing and mental health support throughout the business and externally.
Vincent John THOMPSON – Tameside Borough – British Empire Medal
As a founding member and Co-Owner of F.C. United of Manchester, Vincent committed himself to serve the club and the wider community. He is the Community Liaison Officer for the club and assists as part of the matchday workforce. Since the club’s inception he has worked on various projects to improve the community. In his role within the club, he has established projects designed to enhance mental welfare, social inclusion, employability and reduction of social isolation.
At the onset of the first Covid Pandemic lockdown, Vincent identified that many households were having difficulty accessing food. He gained permission from the club to use the football ground as a food hub for the collection of food and other essential household items, as well as the picking and packing of these for delivery. He formed a partnership with the City Council and the North Manchester Business Network and amassed a team of over 40 volunteers all within the first 2 weeks. Volunteer packers assembled the food parcels and a separate team of volunteer drivers delivered the food parcels and made regular check-ins on those who were using the service. Vincent worked most days of the week at the Food Hub and it was also utilised to support other food banks in the surrounding areas.
In addition to food deliveries, he also arranged support for more vulnerable individuals and families who had been particularly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. This included the sourcing and delivery of items such as bedding and winter clothing.
Vincent’s passion for helping others and doing community work including anti-racism, youth engagement and combatting homelessness is second nature to him. He continues to forge relationships with other organisations to help him achieve all his goals.
Marie Margaret STOCK – Stockport Borough – Honorary Member of The British Empire
As Assistant Principal for Student Support and Experience at Manchester College, Marie faces the immense challenge of supporting 20,000 students across 9 sites, many of whom are disadvantaged and vulnerable. She plays an integral role in supporting these students daily by leading 90 members of staff in the student support team.
Marie identified problems in the college and implemented strategies to wrap services around the most vulnerable pupils in incredibly complex situations, often involving foreign national students, refugees and asylum seekers. She has developed personalised strategies for young people considered very high risk, such as organising the timetables for those that are vulnerable to gang crime so that there were no members of rival gangs on the campus at the same time. This helped to re-engage some of the highest risk young people in the college, including students that have been involved in counter-terrorism offences.
The success of Marie’s work is exemplified by the improved Ofsted rating to ‘Good’ commending the “strong focus on ensuring that students are safe” and providing “highly effective support for those students who are most at risk”.
Acknowledging her work, she was offered the Education Lead role in a newly established Greater Manchester Violence Reduction Unit. Starting in 2019, it involved looking at how to reduce serious violence across the education sector in Greater Manchester. In a relatively short space of time, Marie made a real impact developing an after-school programme aimed at keeping young people away from community-based violence and developing protocols for schools to deal with fixed term exclusions, ensuring young people remain safe whilst excluded.
Marie has had a hugely positive impact on the communities of Greater Manchester.