EPICs - Exceptional People in Camden Awards 2008

Making Camden a Borough of Opportunity

                     people in Camden awards 2008

Camden is a place full of heroes. From Hampstead to Covent Garden, from Kentish Town to Kilburn, we have people who give up a great deal of their spare time and help make Camden a borough of opportunity for everyone.

The Exceptional People in Camden awards (EPICs) were set up to recognise these exceptional and committed people. Now in its third year, our awards received over 100 nominations.

Drawing up a shortlist, let alone choosing a winner for each category, was a daunting task. The judges found the shortlist for each category of a very high quality. Choosing winners meant difficult decisions. However, winners had to be chosen and, after a long discussion, the judges picked the winners you have seen tonight.

What our winners have done is undoubtedly inspiring, showing exceptional commitment to their voluntary work and making key contributions to improving life in Camden.

From the seven category winners we picked our stand-out winner for the special Exceptional Camden Hero award. Frances has shown exceptional commitment and will inspire others to do the same.

Thank you to everyone who took part in nominating their heroes for an EPIC award, and many congratulations to all our finalists and winners.

EPICs Finalists 2008

The EPICs Judges 2008

  • Wendy Munro
    EPICs winner 2006
    Exceptional older person
  • Abdi Arshe
    EPICs winner 2006
    Exceptional work with young people
  • Seth Williams
    Eurostar - sponsor
  • Councillor Martin Davies
    London Borough of Camden
  • Councillor Ben Rawlings
    London Borough of Camden
  • Karen Swift
    Acting assistant director (needs and access)
    London Borough of Camden


We would like to thank our sponsors for supporting EPICs:

Sponsor logos

The Wellcome TrustVolunteer Centre CamdenEurostarEveryman Cinema ClubCBS OutdoorLCR

Exceptional Older Person

Frances Eley

Frances Eley

Frances has been a champion for older people over a number of years. She first became involved as a volunteer with the St Pancras community association, soon becoming a trustee and then serving as chair of their board of trustees for the last five years.

She is an energetic advocate of the interests of older people. Last year, she chaired a working party on the provision of accessible toilets for older people across the borough which led to the creation of the community toilet scheme in Kentish Town.

Although a volunteer, she approaches her work as if she is a paid member of staff. Her work is of a consistently high quality.

Frank Dove, nominator, said: “She is one of life’s workers and helps bring about change. She can always be relied on not only to volunteer for new tasks, but also to pay great care and attention to everything she does.”

Highly commended by the judges:

  • Margaret Welsh
  • Arthur Brill


  • Brian Rutter
  • Jean Rossiter

Exceptional Contribution to Community Safety

Mike Stuart

Mike Stuart

Mike demonstrated his commitment to a safer Camden through his continual support and involvement in a number of groups. He is the chair of Kilburn safer neighbourhoods’ community panel, which works with and supports the policing team to decide the
priorities to tackle.

He has also worked with the West Hampstead safer neighbourhoods’ team to address antisocial behaviour on the Lithos Road estate, and is a founder member of the South Hampstead and Kilburn community partnership, which runs the ARC project on the Rowley Way estate.

He works tirelessly to ensure that local young people receive the activities and support services they need.

A range of people, including the police, housing staff and youth workers, have highlighted what a valuable asset he is to their work.

Susan Doran, nominator, said: “His local knowledge is fantastic and he has an ability to overcome obstacles by getting the right people involved. Mike is never reactionary; he takes a measured approach to problem solving and is a joy to work with.”

Highly commended by the judges

  • Shirley Scott-Norton


  • Jo Weir
  • Jon Pettigrew
  • Simon Luscombe

Exceptional Work with Young People

Helene Reardon-Bond

Helene Reardon-Bond

Helene is chair of governors at Rhyl Primary School and has helped the school through some very challenging times.

She gives her time freely, arranging her own working hours so that she has sufficient time to spend at the school during school hours. This means that she works long hours in
her day job so that she can be at school when she is needed.

For the last seven years she has regularly attended assemblies and coffee mornings; organised visits to the school for local and national figures; and accompanied the children on countless trips and outings.

She has become a member of the Camden joint chairs of governors committee, where she campaigns valiantly for equality of opportunity for all children being educated in Camden.

Merle Mahon, nominator, said: “Helene is respected and valued by all who know her. She is fair-minded and loyal, and will not make promises that she cannot keep. In this way she is a model of trustworthiness and honesty that is an inspiration to all who work
with her at the school, and in the local community.”

Highly commended by the judges

  • Abul Rahman


  • Michael O’Neill
  • Ray Bull
  • Sonja Maklaj-Stringer

Exceptional Contribution to Sport and Leisure

Lucy Collins

Lucy Collins

Lucy has worked exceptionally hard over the last year to contribute to sporting activities in Camden and the UK.

In August 2007, Lucy represented her country, and everyone with a disability, in the bowling events at the Special Olympic World Games in China. She was awarded a silver medal for her solo event, and worked extraordinarily hard to help her team come fourth overall.

Since this time she has taken on the responsibility of coaching the Special Olympics Camden table tennis team, and also volunteers in the peer activity support scheme. The scheme aims to get adults with learning disabilities active and participating in local sporting activities through a buddy scheme.

As a volunteer, Lucy really makes a difference by helping people to reconnect with the community and gain confidence to take their health into their own hands.

The Camden Society nominated Lucy. They said: “Lucy has gone beyond what anyone would expect to help others in the community participate in sport. She has also enabled those who would like to develop their skills, and push themselves further to have a strong leader who guides and supports them in their efforts.”

Highly commended by the judges

  • Mary Hill


  • Jef Gooding
  • John Stewart
  • Pro touch soccer academy

Exceptional Contribution to the Environment

Sean Canavan

Lucy Collins

After he moved to Ryland Road some years ago, Sean set about transforming the area and then subsequently the Perren Street cul-de-sac, both of which were run-down, full of litter and graffiti and frequently vandalised.

Although blind, Sean planted and maintained flowers and shrubs at the foot of all the trees and in individual beds along the roads. The streets are now amongst the most attractive and clean in Camden.

There is no graffiti anywhere and the vandalism has ceased. Sean has never let up on his mission to transform his environment for the better. He does all the work himself and he pays for all the plants and compost out of his own pocket .

Lesley Howard, nominator, said: “Even if Sean were not blind his total transformation of Ryland Road and Perren Street would be heroic. The fact that he is blind makes it even more so. Sean cannot see any aspect of what he does in the streets, he does it all by touch.”

Highly commended by the judges

  • Jean Dollimore
  • David Bieda


  • Nick Riacon
  • Pamela Gilby

Exceptional Carer

Greg Branson

Greg Branson

Greg is founder and director of the Helios Charity based in King’s Cross. Helios looks after people with HIV and other chronic illnesses offering them a wide range of quality alternative therapies.

Greg works seven days a week as director of the charity. He does this for no wage at all. In the last few years he has donated a considerable sum of money to ensure that the charity survives. He is constantly improving and widening the services of the
centre so it can help a diverse range of people.

Whilst many other charities in this field have collapsed because of financial constraints, Helios has survived because of Greg’s perseverance. Helios has been carrying out its important and vital work for over 30 years.

By running Helios, Greg has been offering a safe place for HIV positive people since the AIDS crisis, helping them reconstruct their lives and look after their health in ways that are not otherwise financially affordable. He has helped people return to studies, work
and community activities.

Thierry Alexandre, nominator, said: “I have never met anyone with such a determined will to make this world a better one, yet he does this from a position of absolute humility, working directly with people who need help now, rather than grand and wild ambitions.”

Highly commended by the judges

  • Barbara O’Neil
  • Hon Hang Lee


  • Diane Lambert
  • John and Moira Doneo

Exceptional Young Person

Youth opportunity fund panel

Youth opportunity fund panel

The youth opportunity fund panel distributes grants to disadvantaged groups of young
people in Camden.

They have the important responsibility of managing an annual budget of £240,000, and
ensure that all applications are fairly assessed. So far more than 250 youth-led projects have been successful.

The panel takes time to visit and inspect all the projects to ensure young people have the right support and the best quality of service.

The task of assessing hundreds of applications requires commitment, patience, knowledge and dedication and the youth opportunity fund panel has shown throughout the last year that they possess these qualities.

In addition, they have volunteered more than 200 hours of their time to carrying out tasks such as organising youth awards events, training children aged seven to thirteen on managing budgets and inspecting services.

Virgilio Varela, nominator, said: “Their work is inspiring and empowering in that their peers take on similar roles in their local communities.”

Highly commended by the judges

  • Vicki Lynch


  • Daniel Cunningham
  • Jessica Fox
  • Axel Landin and Louise Suen

Exceptional Camden HERO Award

Frances Eley

Frances Eley

From the seven category winners the judges choose one overall winner to receive the Exceptional Camden Hero award for the extra commitment they have shown to improving Camden.

This year the judges picked Frances Eley for her work with older people.

The judges said: “Frances is a real Camden hero. She inspires others and has shown true commitment to working with and for older people. Frances is one of the people that make Camden a great place to live.”

Eurostar have provided Frances with a special prize, of a trip for two to Paris.

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