12 October 2020
Virgin Media is revealing the people and organisations across Glasgow and Leeds who have been nominated as unsung heroes for supporting their communities during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The shortlist includes teachers, nurses, voluntary care workers and community groups, all of which are in the running to win Virgin Media’s Local Legends competition – which is recognising those who have made a significant contribution to their communities during the crisis.
A panel of judges including the nation’s hero, 100-year-old, Captain Sir Tom Moore, his daughter Hannah Ingram-Moore, and TV presenter and author, Konnie Huq, will help select a winner from each city.
Each winner will receive a personalised technology makeover worth up to £10,000 – including Virgin Media’s blisteringly-fast Gig1 broadband for two years.
The competition was launched in both cities following the switch on of next-generation gigabit connectivity in the cities, giving residents access to Virgin Media’s Gig1 broadband offering average download speeds of 1,140Mbps – more than 20 times faster than the local average connection.
Captain Sir Tom Moore, a member of Virgin Media’s Local Legends judging panel, said: “It is so heartening to read about the acts of kindness and selflessness which have been carried out across Leeds and Glasgow these past few months.
“These nominees have gone above and beyond for their communities during the pandemic and all deserve to be praised for their efforts.
“It is going to be difficult to choose an overall winner, but I am looking forward to being part of the judging panel along with my daughter, Hannah, to help select these Local Legends.”
Konnie Huq, a member of Virgin Media’s Local Legends judging panel, added: “It is truly inspiring to read about these individuals and community groups who have gone the extra mile and made a difference to other people’s lives across Glasgow and Leeds.
“All the nominees are very strong contenders for the Local Legends prize – a tech makeover worth £10,000 including Gig1 broadband, and I can’t wait to discuss the entries with the other members of the judging panel to help find our winner.”
Glasgow and Leeds’ Local Legends
Virgin Media asked people across Leeds and Glasgow to nominate the people or non-for-profit groups which had supported their community during these challenging months.
The five nominees for Leeds are:
1. Fran Graham on behalf of Bramley Elderly Action.
The nomination reads:
“Fran works for Bramley Elderly Action [who are] constantly thinking of ways to improve the lives of the elderly.
“[Bramley Elderly Action] has created backyard bingo events and a walking football initiative for elderly people, both of which have helped create new friendships and interests.
“Since Covid…[the volunteers and staff] has been working tirelessly… to provide a shopping and befriending service for those isolated in their own homes.”
2. Ben Slack on behalf of the Swan Song Project
Ben has been nominated by his friend, Pam. The nomination reads:
“The Swan Song Project gives people facing end of life and bereavement the opportunity to write and record their own original song.
“Ben worked predominantly face to face in local hospices, this can't happen now because of the pandemic and the vulnerability of the people he works with. He has, however, found a way to continue supporting these people by setting up a studio from home and writing songs and making music together, albeit remotely.
“The project relies on generous funding and, like other small charities it has not been easy this year. Because the majority of those he works with have underlying health conditions and the venues he works in will continue to be inaccessible for the foreseeable future, the online project needs to be first rate.”
3. Christine Kearsley
Christine has been nominated by her brother, David. The nomination reads:
“For over 10 years this unsung hero in the community has helped multiple individuals with their care needs, including some at the end of their lives. She has worked with local charities like Bramley Elderly Action and Wheatfields hospice in Headingley, and she currently visits two elderly and vulnerable people several times a week to support them in their own homes. All of this is done on a voluntary basis!
“She loves helping people and every day she puts others first before herself. She never asks for anything in return. I would love for her to be recognised and to see that she is appreciated for the amazing work she does every day.”
4. Positive Action For Refugees and Asylum Seekers (PAFRAS)
The nomination for PAFRAS reads:
“PAFRAS has been working with refugees and asylum seekers in the Leeds neighbourhood relentlessly through the lockdown and this COVID period, sometime going beyond the just the immigration advice and food that they often provide.
“Most of them [the team] have been working away throughout often risking their own lives. They took over the work of Red Cross in Leeds as Red Cross did not have enough staff who could work through the COVID period.
“I am not in any manner benefited by this but am aware of their work at normal times and especially now when mental health, depression and addictions have all been on a rise.”
5. Chris Egan
The nomination for Chris reads:
“During lockdown, Chris continued his duties of being a Head of Year to his year group at school.
“He ensured all students were safe, well and fed by ensuring all free school meals were prepared. He sent daily emails to his year group, offering help and support to those who needed it. He was their "go to" person for matters that didn't even relate to school. He offered counselling to families in need, and continued to set high quality lessons so they didn't fall behind in their studies.
“He was due to get married over the summer but due to the pandemic this was not possible. He also continued to shop for his vulnerable parents throughout, ensuring their safety. All round, is an unsung hero!”
The five nominees for Glasgow are:
1. Sean Beggans
Sean has been nominated by his friend, David. The entry reads:
“Sean works in our local hospital as a ward host/cleaner. These are the people who are the lowest paid workers in our NHS and often forgotten when we think about those putting their lives at risk.
“Sean works in a care of the elderly ward as well as having the responsibility for cleaning Covid rooms. This never stopped him getting up every day throughout lockdown to go into work and put himself at risk to help keep the hospital clean and safe for the nurses and doctors to do their jobs, whilst playing his part in looking after our parents and grandparents who are often confused and lonely. Most of these patients are admitted and unable to see their family, Sean always looks after them as if they are his own.
“When most of us wouldn't risk our lives for the low pay, Sean went into work each day to risk his.”
2. Jim Mclaren on behalf of the Golden Friendships charity
Jim has been nominated by his friend, Sharon. The entry reads:
“The [Golden Friendships] charity quickly adapted to the new way of life very quickly. At first they set up singers to give performances both live and recorded to members and the whole community. They made up and helped deliver packed lunches to vulnerable members of the community. They did a daily update of the club called ‘from the bunker’. This was all done through Virgin Media broadband from the club. This is the preferred one as the signal is continuous.
“Whilst this has been going on a major refurb was done to the club and, as no income available, members organised social distancing sponsored walks and even a walk and roll for wheelchair users.
“When the club reopens it will be hosting an event for 50 wheelchair users with carers. As far as we know, we are not sure if [this has been] done in Scotland before. The additional tech would be very useful.”
3. Barbara Higginson
Barbara has been nominated by her son, Anthony. The entry reads:
“Barbara (my mum, 75 years old) has, in poor health, managed to hold our family together in times of great loss and hardship, and has selflessly sought to help everyone in the family (and out with) during these hardest of times.
“From keeping the local bus drivers fed and watered when they've been really busy, to checking on her elderly friends and making sure they have company when they are so very lonely, she has always given everything for everyone else.
“Our family has lost four members in the last year or so, and still she tries to make the best of every situation. I hope I can win this to give her something back. It would mean the world.”
4. Qashaf Ahmed
Qashaf has been nominated by a family member. The nomination reads:
“He was a hero in many ways. Despite all his personal challenges, he continued to help others to stay in touch by fixing any technology problems as he is a former IT engineer.
“He embraced lockdown and always appeared to be positive and never complained as enjoys helping others at no cost. He is a hero who will continue to help others and remains strong whatever life throws at him including losing his job.
“He deserves to win a tech-makeover as he loves technology but cannot afford to buy it. If he won a tech-makeover he can continue helping the community with the tech makeover and enjoy playing with the gadgets at the same time. Words can't describe how amazing he is!”
5. Nikki Love
The nomination for Nikki reads:
“I believe Nikki should win this prize due to the fact she has been a full time NHS nurse who has worked through this pandemic saving lives on a daily basis, and working overtime shifts tirelessly since she became a nurse just over two years ago to help the less fortunate.
“She always puts everyone else ahead of herself and never asks for anything in return and never complains. She is the kind of person who would help anyone in need and even put herself in harm’s way as a result.”
Notes to Editors:
There will be individual judging panels for Leeds and for Glasgow. They will each select a winner by scoring each nominee on criteria which includes the significant contribution the nominee has made to their community, as well as the impact the technology makeover will have on their lives.
The judging panel for Leeds:
In addition to Captain Sir Tom Moore, accompanied by his daughter Hannah Ingram-Moore, and Konnie Huq, the other members of the panel for Leeds include Hugh Woolford, Director New Developments and Business at Virgin Media; Lord Mayor of Bradford, Councillor Doreen Lee; and Jason Tutin, Digital and Learning Development Manager, Leeds Libraries, Leeds City Council.****
The judging panel for Glasgow:
In addition to Captain Sir Tom Moore, accompanied by his daughter Hannah Ingram-Moore, and Konnie Huq, the other members of the panel for Glasgow include Colin Brown, Virgin Media’s Regional Director for Scotland; Councillor Angus Millar, Chair of the Digital Glasgow Board, Glasgow City Council and Neil Paterson, Service Development Manager at Glasgow Life.
Information on Virgin Media’s Gig1 broadband can be found here.
The announcement of Virgin Media’s gigabit speeds being switched on in Glasgow and Leeds can be found here.