Make a Difference Awards: Beds, Herts & Bucks community heroes celebrated

Community First Responders
The first responder team won the community group award on Tuesday night

A nine-year-old boy who cares for his mum is one of eight community heroes to be honoured at an awards ceremony.

Joshua, from Houghton Regis, Bedfordshire, was one of the recipients at BBC Three Counties Radio Make a Difference Awards.

Community groups, carers, fundraisers and good neighbours were all honoured.

BBC Make a Difference was set up at the start of the first lockdown in March 2020 to help those needing support.

'Totally limited edition'

Joshua, nine, cares for his mum who has arthritis

Nine-year-old Joshua is this year's youngest winner and has been celebrated for caring for his mum.

Jenna, 36, has arthritis in her spine and said Joshua was always quick to get her stick or help with the washing up. He is described by his gran as "a little angel" who is "very good to his mum".

Joshua also raised money for Keech Hospice and said: "I like helping sick people."

His mum said Joshua's caring nature comes "automatically" and "he doesn't realise how special he is."

She said Joshua was a "totally limited edition".

'Beverley is Saturday'

Beverley Everitt
Beverley overcame fear of a violent ex-partner to help with homeless outreach in Bedford

Beverley Everitt helps to run the SOS outreach service in Bedford, providing people with food and clothing.

But as a victim of domestic violence, she had to overcome her fear of returning to the town where her ex-partner lived.

"I wouldn't come out of the house; I wouldn't come here," Ms Everitt said. "But I was determined he wasn't going to beat me, and be a stronger person."

Jason, who attends the SOS sessions, said she "certainly deserves" to win the bravery award.

"She never misses a Saturday, man. Beverley is Saturday," he said.

'A big effort'

For someone who "really didn't like walking", a 2,500-mile (4,023km) trek around the British coast was a huge challenge.

But Angela Hougham, from Buckinghamshire, said: "I was determined to do something for Alzheimer's, because I could see it growing every day.

"So I decided I wanted to do something big."

Her walk raised nearly £70,000 for the Alzheimer's Society and earned her the winning spot in the fundraiser category.

Her husband Bob, who also walked some of the route, said: "It's a big effort to say the least. She's 70, she's knocking on. Until she'd done this, she'd never done any walking."

The winners were:

  • Volunteer Award - Anne Gibbons: She has been volunteering for Girlguiding in Luton for 50 years, helping to equip girls with skills for life

  • Community Group Award - The Community First Responders and Military CoResponders: The team in Buckinghamshire respond to emergencies and are trained to deliver basic life-saving first aid

  • Fundraiser Award - Angela Hougham: The 70-year-old, from Aylesbury ,walked around the coast of Britain to raise money for Alzheimer's after feeling she wanted to "do something big" to help tackle the disease

  • Carer Award - Joshua: Nine-year-old Joshua helps to care for his mum, who has arthritis, and also helps her around the house

  • Great Neighbour Award - Ali Aklakul Islam: Over the past 20 years, he has reached out to his community in Luton, helping many elderly people during the pandemic and supporting young people get back into education

  • Bravery Award - Beverley Everitt : She overcame fear of her violent ex-partner to return to Bedford and run outreach to the homeless

  • Green Award - Isabel Hospice, Tonnes of Care project: The reusing and recycling project generated 71,000 nursing hours last year and saved tonnes of materials from landfill.

  • The Together Award - Michelle Tohill: She set up Bridget's Cafe in Ware employing people with learning difficulties after being frustrated at the lack of targeted provision for people with additional needs.

The winners were announced at the BBC Three Counties Radio's Make a Difference Awards ceremony at the Grove Theatre, Dunstable. Highlights of the event will be broadcast on the Andy Collins breakfast show on Wednesday.

Follow East of England news on Facebook, Instagram and X. Got a story? Email or WhatsApp 0800 169 1830