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Winner of Outstanding Contribution to Early Years Community Star Award 2022

19 December 2022

After two years the Community Star Awards were back on schedule with the glitziest ceremony in Bradford taking place on Wednesday 7 December at The Bradford Hotel.

The votes had been cast and the finalists across all nine categories eagerly waited to see if their name would be called out to receive a prestigious Community Star Award. The awards were set up to celebrate the achievements of those who give their time freely to help others.

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

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

  • Bowling Park Allotments and Gardens Society
  • A group of five mums who run Better Start Bradford’s Parent in the Lead sessions
  • Yuma and Mariama, two key figures from the city’s Gambian community.

Bowling Park Allotments and Gardens Society has been busy developing a safe, sensory rich educational space at the allotments. Great/grandmother Anne Patterson has received funding from Better Start Bradford’s Parents in the Lead Fund to be able to make improvements and open up the allotment to run growing and play sessions for families with 0-3s.

Ludmila Novosjolova, who nominated the society, said:

They showed parents and young children how to look after plants and flowers, how to grow things and how to play with natural resources. They are kind, passionate and enthusiastic and a joy to be around with the children and parents. They have delivered over 60 sessions of grow your own and play sessions at the allotments, giving up so much of their own time to share their enthusiasm and love of being outside.

A group of five mums have been nominated thanks to activities that they run between them through funding from Better Start Bradford’s Parents in the Lead award fund. The five mums are Olga Dolganiuc, Valerie Florea, Zeynep Iciger, Michaela Sutcliffe and Rozina Akhtar.

The activities reach parents, expectant parents and grandparents with 0–4-year-olds in the BD3, BD4 and BD5 postcode areas.

Their nominator said:

These ladies are amazing in the work they have done to support parents and young families. But what makes them even more special is how they have all supported each other on this journey. There is so much more involved with leading a session than people sometimes realise.

African Connections Group’s Yuma and Mariama were nominated for their warm welcome and support to newly arrived members of the Gambian community in Bradford.

Their nominator said:

Yuma and Mariama are very supportive, encouraging to many and make sure everyone is included. They are the anchor of the large Gambian Community. They have done an outstanding job in supporting, interpreting and acting as role models for this community as they have initiated services and groups for this community to attend around the BD3 area.

Finally, the time came to announce the ‘Outstanding Contribution to Early Years’ Award’. The finalists waited 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 shrieks all round as Bowling Park Allotments and Gardens Society made their way to the stage – the award clearly meaning the world to them and supporters as they took their certificate and the coveted Bradford Medal.

Once recovered, great-grandmother and grandmother to 18, Anne Patterson said:

I never expected anything like this. I am shocked, but in a good way. We love working with families and their little ones and watching them grow vegetables such as courgettes, sweetcorn, potatoes, marrows and brussel sprouts – it helps them to start on the right foot when it comes to good nutrition, while having fun. We even managed to deliver activities during covid as we are so big, we were easily able to do activities while social distancing.

There were lots of familiar faces at the ceremony including winners of the Business Making a Difference Award: Regal Foods as nominated by Better Start Bradford’s dad’s engagement worker, Zafar Kayani, for their work and contributions to the dads cook and eat group at WomenZone Community Centre

Regal Foods Marketing Manager, Alec Gladok said: “The award we received is not only an acknowledgement to our community achievements within the Bradford district, but an acknowledgement to the people – the people of Bradford who we are so proud and honoured to support.

“Thank you to everyone who took time to vote for us and to the team at Better Start Bradford for putting us forward for this special award. We would also like to thank the many organisations we work with including Bradford Community Kitchen and Mind in Bradford, both of which we have forged strong partnerships with.”

Their nominator Zafar, said: “Regal bakery sent their professional taster to judge the dads and toddlers baking competition and also supplied a big hamper for the winner. They gave all the children prizes so that everyone went home happy.

“It felt that the company wants to keep it roots strongly at local level, even when it has become international.”

The Business Making a Difference Award recognises companies that have struck the balance between finance and finding ways to improve the lives of others.

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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