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Winner of Outstanding Contribution to Earliest Years Community Stars Award 2023

7 December 2023

While the Bradford paths and roads glistened with frost outside, the gathering crowd inside The Bradford Hotel glowed with pride as they arrived for the glitziest ceremony in the city – the Community Stars Awards 2023.

A whopping 23,000 votes had been cast and the finalists across all 10 categories eagerly waited to see if their name would be called out to receive a prestigious Community Stars Award. The awards ceremony shines a light on all of Bradford’s volunteering heroes and recognises the work that they do freely to help others in their communities.

Here at Better Start Bradford, we are honoured to sponsor the Outstanding Contribution to Earliest Years of Life.

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

  • Danuta Petrie
  • Bradford Squirrels
  • Micheala Duffy

Danuta Petrie was nominated by volunteer Bradford Baby Bank colleague and friend Vicki Jubb, who described her as a “true inspiration”.

Vicki said:

Danuta has played an important role in the lives of so many young children in Bradford. Initially as a teacher in Bradford, then as a special needs teacher at St Edmunds Nursery. During her retirement, Danuta has helped establish and run Bradford Baby Bank, a charity which supports vulnerable young families providing essential items to babies and children under five in Bradford.

Bradford Squirrels were put forward by County Youth Commissioner for West Yorkshire Scouts, Toby Hammond.

Toby said:

We have started over the last two years opening new provisions for four- to five-year-olds called Squirrels in Bradford, to help young people gain skills for life at a time when it matters most and where it’s most needed. The one-hour session each week is packed with outdoor activities, fun, games, badges, laughter and so much more.

We now have over 12 Squirrel groups running weekly sessions in Bradford, including some of the hardest to reach communities in Bradford. We now have over 288 4–5-year-olds taking part in our session each week.

Check out this short film featuring Bear Grylls, when the Squirrels division of the Scouts launched in 2021.

Micheala Duffy was nominated by her partner Kyle Whitaker for her voluntary work at Lower Grange Community Centre and the playgroup that she runs. She has also helped develop a group for children with disabilities.

Kyle said:

She’s an outstanding member of the community centre where she works and is always wanting to go the extra 110% even on her day off.

Finally, the time came to announce the ‘Outstanding Contribution to Earliest Years of Life’ Award’. The finalists were all called to the stage and waited there with bated breath while Better Start Bradford’s Programme Director of Better Start Bradford, Alex Spragg opened the gold shiny envelope with the winner’s name on it.

There were whoops and cheers all round as Danuta Petrie looked genuinely stunned as she took the coveted award from Alex – the award clearly meaning the world to her and her supporters.

Once recovered, Danuta said:

I feel really excited, honoured and humble, but this award is for everyone who volunteers at Baby Bank Bradford and the well-deserved recognition of everyone’s work there. I have always been part of a team, whether in a school or now within Bradford Baby Bank. The wonderful team at Bradford Baby Bank is vital in supporting so many families in Bradford and I am very proud to be part of it.

There were lots of familiar faces at the ceremony including the winner of the Shared Values in Action Community Stars Award, which went to former Better Start Bradford Family and Community Engagement Team Officer, Humera Khan. She had been nominated through the work of Happy Healthy You, a group Humera set up to support families and individuals access healthy activities either online or in person.

Humera said: “I am totally blown away and I thank the service users who have put me forward, to be honest I thank them more, as this work brings so much meaning to my own life. Thank you to the most passionate and best Happy Healthy You team I could ever ask for, our brilliant partners and the judges on the panel! I also have the best family and friends and I am so grateful to God!”

Better Start Bradford’s very own Family and Community Engagement Manager, Shummel Uddin, was a finalist in the category of Volunteer of the Year. Shummel has been a volunteer for many years, giving his time to many projects such as helping to clean the local park, helping out at the local football club, taking part in bucket collections and delivering food parcels.

His nominator said: “He has been a volunteer for so many years and has continued this through difficult periods such as Covid and the impact of the cost of living.

This category had six finalists including Amina Hussain, a volunteer with Bradford Doulas, one of the Better Start Bradford funded projects. Whilst neither Shummel or Amina won the category, they featured as part of the demonstration of how the people of Bradford are committed to supporting others.

Congratulations to all the finalists and winners who help us to remember how much Bradford people contribute to making life better for our community.

The Community Star Awards are delivered in partnership with Telegraph and ArgusBradford Council and the community campaign ‘People Can Make a Difference’.


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