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It may have been a rainy winter’s night, but the stars were out in force thanks to the Community Star Awards 2019 at The Bradford Hotel on 5 December 2019.

With a record number of votes for 2019 (over 81,000!), our finalists eagerly awaited the announcement of the Better Start Bradford ‘Outstanding Contribution to Early Years’ award.

The competition for the category was tough, with the following finalists:

  • Ali Nahani, a Better Start Bradford Community Champion
  • Aqsa Shaheen, a HENRY champion for the past three years
  • Jo Midgeley, a volunteer supporting mums in the Better Start Bradford area

Ali made the final for this award due to his never-ending enthusiasm as a volunteer at Better Start Bradford. His nominator said Ali volunteers at practically every event and conference and ‘champions’ Better Start Bradford causes through the different groups he attends.

Aqsa, who was described by her nominator as a ‘ray of sunshine’, was nominated for volunteering with HENRY for the past three years. Alongside being a busy mum and studying at college, she helps run HENRY workshops, group programmes for families, cooking programmes, a walking group, a stay-and-play group and sets up stalls at recruitment events.

Jo was chosen due to the significant transformation volunteering has had on her confidence. When Jo first started volunteering she wasn’t in the best place, but over time built her confidence and shone bright!

Her nominator said: “By being active in Better Start Bradford groups, Jo is a changed person. She is always up for getting involved in things. She’s a very positive person and where she can she will try and support other mums like her who are going through the same issues.”

By being active in Better Start Bradford groups, Jo is a changed person. She is always up for getting involved in things.

Jo Midgeley could barely hold back the tears as she climbed the stage to take the winner’s trophy – the award clearly meaning the world to her as the audience applauded her achievement.

Once she had recovered, Jo said: “Wow! I am absolutely shocked and gob smacked – I never expected this at all. I want to thank everyone at Better Start Bradford – they really excel at what they do and are such lovely warm people. I want to especially thank Sally from the Family and Community Engagement Team, because ever since she has come into my life, she has boosted my confidence and does so every time I volunteer at events.

“I also want to thank my friend Emma, my mum and mother-in-law who are always there for me and have encouraged me to get out and involved in the community.”

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