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Points of Light: December 2014 winners

The Points of Light award recognises outstanding individuals - people who are making a change in their community and inspiring others.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government


The following people were given a Points of Light award in December 2014 (the numbering continues from November’s winners):

166. Vince Knight (Essex)

Builder Vince was asked to provide a quote for creating a wet room for 12 year old Katie Anderson. Katie was born with neurofibromatosis, a condition that causes tumours to grow along her nerves. Touched by Katie’s story, Vince decided to build the £6,000 bathroom for free and persuaded local suppliers to donate the materials. He completed the project within a week, and this has helped Katie to regain her independence.

167. Carolyn Mayling (Maidenhead)

Carolyn founded Rosie’s Rainbow Fund in 2004, in memory of her daughter. The fund provides music therapy sessions in 3 hospitals, reaching around 250 children and their families each year. Carolyn has raised £750,000 for its activities so far.

168. Emily Smith (London)

Emily created the Plastic Challenge to raise awareness of the harmful impact of plastics on the oceans. She has inspired hundreds of people to join her in reducing their dependence on packaged goods. Emily has helped remove tonnes of litter from UK beaches, campaigned for marine protected areas and has run educational workshops for local groups.

169. Gareth Coleman (Sheffield)

Gareth, an IT expert from Sheffield, used his skills to found the BitFixIT computer café. This free computer repair and advice service has helped keep over 5,000 local people online. Gareth has volunteered thousands of hours every weekend to keep the café open and has given away more than 500 refurbished computers to families in need.

170. Pearl Watts (Banbury)

Pearl, aged 70, is a retired foster carer who has spent 10 years socialising and training puppies for Dogs for the Disabled. Pearl receives the puppies at 8 weeks and looks after them in her home for a year, giving them all the experience they need to become assistance dogs. She is currently looking after her 11th puppy, Libby.

171. Alex Neave (Derby)

Alex, a former boxer, founded the Derby City Boxing Academy to coach more than 100 young people every week. The Academy provides a safe environment for them to get fit and learn how to box, while encouraging them to become responsible citizens. Alex has contributed to reducing anti-social behaviour and has inspired many young people to volunteer as coaches themselves.

172. Meryl Hanmer (South Wales)

Meryl is a 20-year-old student who, despite battling her own health difficulties, volunteers as a horse riding instructor for children with disabilities. Meryl passionately believes everyone should have the opportunity to take part in the sport. She also learnt sign language in order to teach young people with hearing difficulties.

173. Mark Wilson (London)

Mark, a neurosurgeon and Air Ambulance doctor, created the GoodSAM smartphone app. When there is an emergency, this app alerts nearby medically trained ‘Good Samaritans’ who have signed up. With 7,000 registered users to date, it enables faster medical intervention and increases the chance of saving lives.

174. Faye Edwards (South Wales)

Faye set up the group ‘Jesus Cares’ through her local church to provide Christmas gifts and food hampers to those in need. Faye has inspired hundreds of people and organisations to volunteer on the project.

175. Elizabeth Grier-Menager (London)

Elizabeth set up the Wrap Up London initiative in 2011, encouraging Londoners to donate their unwanted winter coats at Underground stations and other locations. She has collected more than 42,000 coats so far, which she distributes to shelters across the capital.

176. Fiona Smith (Telford)

Fiona, a breast cancer survivor, set up ‘Swimming After Surgery’, a swimming club that allows women recovering from surgery to swim in privacy. Fiona had a single mastectomy in 2007 and set up the club in Telford to help other women who had similar experiences. Since then she has also inspired similar groups in Cannock, Leeds, Gatwick and Walsall.

177. Ann Hill (Dumfries)

Ann creates personalised ‘memory quilts’ to help bring back memories for people who are living with Alzheimer’s disease. Along with her team of volunteers, she works with the families of Alzheimer’s patients to create quilt designs that incorporate images from their lives.

178. Shelley Schachter-Cahm (Haringey)

Shelley was inspired to start Toy Drop after visiting an orphanage whilst on holiday with her daughter in Manila. This Hanukkah she will collect thousands of donated toys from collection points in United Synagogues and distribute them to disadvantaged children in the developing world.

179. David Goodfellow (London)

David founded the Kindness Offensive in 2008. With a volunteer army of 6,000 people David asks members of the public to submit requests for their community, and works with corporate partners to make them happen. This Christmas he aims to break the world record for the most toys donated: these will be given to children’s hospitals and community charities.

180. Vikki George

Despite being bedbound with ME, Vicky runs Post Pals, a small charity dedicated to making seriously ill children smile by sending cards, letters, gifts, support and friendship. Over the festive period, Post Pals are inviting people to send cards and gifts to children on behalf of Santa’s reindeers and elves.

181. Mario Di Maio (Aberdeen)

Mario has volunteered with Aberdeen Mountain Rescue for 44 years. He acted as team leader for 19 years before retiring when he turned 60 last year. Throughout his time he has been involved with over 600 rescues, saving hundreds of lives. Mario continues to volunteer with the team, training new recruits and educating young people about how to stay safe in the mountains.

182. Emma Hanlon-Penny

Emma is a founding member of the military wives choir that shot to fame in 2011 as part of the BBC Choir series. She went on to create the Military Wives Choirs Foundation and has supported the set up and fundraising of 75 military choirs across the country and in Cyprus, Germany, the Falkland Islands and the US. Still a member of the original choir, Emma has helped raise more than £750,000 for hospices and military charities.

183. Revd Martin Poole (Brighton)

Martin, a priest from Brighton, created a life-size advent calendar using the iconic ice-cream coloured doors of the beach huts lining the Hove esplanade. Each night of advent has revealed a different community art project, from a local school choir to a morris dancing troop, giving residents an opportunity to come together and celebrate Advent.

184. Ré Johnson (London)

Ré, who chairs the Battersea Rotary Club Christmas committee, is making Christmas lunch for more than 500 elderly guests, managing a team of over 300 volunteers to make the day a success. Since Ré started running the event in 1984, the number of people attending each year has risen from 50 to 450. The volunteers help to serve over 500 dinners and make fresh sandwiches for guests to take away for supper, as well as providing an afternoon of entertainment including dancing, sing-alongs and bingo.

185. Sue Brett (Maidenhead)

This Christmas, Sue organised a group of volunteers from local churches to cook a Christmas lunch for 100 elderly people who had nowhere to spend Christmas. The guest of honour at the lunch will be Sue’s MP, the Rt Hon Theresa May. Sue is a keen volunteer throughout the year and in May this year she founded the Brett Foundation to help people get out of poverty.

186. Ann Andrews (Hastings)

Ann runs Surviving Christmas, a charity that helps those in hardship or distress over the festive period. Ann oversees Open Christmas, a 2-day event that offers food, tea, medical support, a change of clothing, showers, free haircuts and entertainment to those in need. As Surviving Christmas celebrates its 30th year, the organisation will have helped more than 5,000 people from Hastings this year alone.

187. Rachel Brearley (West Yorkshire)

Rachel volunteers with the animal charity Blue Cross. Rachel organises foster care and rehoming for abandoned cats and kittens, keeping many in her own house during the process. During her time as a volunteer Rachel has found new homes for more than 1,000 cats.

188. Tony Larkin (Hartlepool)

Tony, a cancer survivor, set up MUSICVCANCER, a charity to raise funds for the cancer unit at North Tees Hospital through music events. He has attracted a number of high-profile supporters including Jools Holland and Ed Sheeran, and has raised more than £152,000.

The next Points of Light award winners can be found on the January 2015 page. All of the winners can be found via the Points of Light collection page, which brings together all the monthly lists of winners.

Published 1 December 2014
Last updated 31 December 2014 + show all updates
  1. ##188. Tony Larkin (Hartlepool) added
  2. ##187. Rachel Brearley (West Yorkshire) added.
  3. 186. Ann Andrews (Hastings) added
  4. Added recipient 185: Sue Brett
  5. Added recipient 184: Ré Johnson
  6. Added recipient183. Revd Martin Poole.
  7. Added recipient 182: Emma Hanlon-Penny.
  8. Added recipient 181: Mario Di Maio.
  9. Added recipient 180: Vikki George.
  10. Added recipient 179: David Goodfellow.
  11. Added recipient 178: Shelley Schachter-Cahm.
  12. Added recipient 177: Ann Hill.
  13. Added recipient 176: Fiona Smith.
  14. Added recipient 175: Elizabeth Grier-Menager.
  15. Added recipient 174: Faye Edwards.
  16. Added recipient 173: Mark Wilson
  17. Added recipient 172: Meryl Hanmer.
  18. Added recipient 171: Alex Neave
  19. Added recipient 170: Pearl Watts.
  20. Added recipient 169: Gareth Coleman.
  21. Added recipient 168: Emily Smith.
  22. Added recipient 167: Carolyn Mayling.
  23. First published.