Help us to say a big thankyou to your winter heroes in Leeds

People in Leeds are today being encouraged to take part in this year’s Big Thank You campaign, which recognises those who go above and beyond for other people during the winter months.

By Emma Ryan
Thursday, 19th December 2019, 11:45 am
Rosie Brookes and her family.
Rosie Brookes and her family.

Leeds Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has announced the campaign again this year, in conjunction with the Yorkshire Evening Post, on the final day of our Winter Health series.

It follows the success of last year’s campaign, which saw 1,600 people taking part.

The Big Thank You runs until the end of February and aims to recognise the dedication and hard work of all those across Leeds who go out of their way to help others during winter and throughout the year.

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Coun Rebecca Charlwood who champions the Big Thankyou campaign.

It gives people a chance to recognise the city’s unsung heroes from all walks of life, such as unpaid carers, neighbours and community groups, as well as organisations doing things that seem small or taken for granted but really make a difference.

The campaign is supported by the city’s NHS organisations, Leeds City Council, West Yorkshire Police (Leeds District), British Transport Police, West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, and community and voluntary organisations.

When it ran for the first time last winter, more than 1,600 people took the opportunity to thank everyone from family members, neighbours and work colleagues to refuse collectors, local shops and university tutors.

But it can also be a way of thanking the stalwarts of our communities such as the neighbour down the street who clears people’s paths of snow, a volunteer who runs junior football teams come rain or shine, or the person that drops a cake and a paper round to elderly neighbours who struggle to get out in bad weather.

One of the Big Thank You messages left earlier this year was from Maria, who simply said: “Thank you to the stranger on the street who gave me directions to my accommodation when I first moved and was clearly very stressed.”

Another from Becky read: “Thank you to Katarina on the floor below for advice and a cuppa when my baby was poorly.”

Meanwhile, Alex said: “Thank you to my next door neighbour who grits my concrete front garden when it’s cold so we don’t slip on the step when we leave the house! And also to my mum! She always makes the house warm for me when she can when I come home from work.”

Rosie Brookes, from Morley, is one of those who took the chance to say special thank you to the neonatal team at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.

In 2018, Rosie and fiancé Paul were expecting their first baby but things did not quite go as they had planned.

Rosie remembers: “In February, when I was 23 weeks pregnant, my waters broke and I had spontaneous premature rupture of membranes. I’d had a generally good pregnancy up to that point so it’s safe to say it came as a shock and wasn’t what I was expecting when I went into work that day.

“Ally hung on until he turned 24 weeks. He was born at Leeds General Infirmary (LGI) weighing 660g (1lb 7oz). He spent just over 12 weeks in hospital, with about six of those weeks on a ventilator in the intensive care unit. He then spent a couple more weeks at the LGI, followed by several weeks in St James’.

“As a family, we don’t like to dwell on our situation as we count ourselves to be extremely lucky. We do, however, think it’s incredibly important to continue to thank everyone who has supported us to the point we are at now.”

She said The Big Thank You campaign was a great way to celebrate one another, adding: “People can get caught in the negatives, and often forget to take time to say thank you for when things have gone well.

“We want to thank Leeds Children’s Hospital, in particular all of the staff across LGI and St James’ Neonatal Unit. To put it simply, they are the reason we are a family.

“Without them, we would not have Ally. They have been a constant and consistent support not only to Ally’s health needs, but to our emotional needs as a family.”

Coun Rebecca Charlwood, chairwoman of the council’s Health and Wellbeing Board, said: “We know that so many people in Leeds help keep each other and the city going throughout winter and all year round.

“This can be a tough time for many and demand on services increases, so saying thank you will really help to boost the morale of all those who give their time or work in a service that helps others.

“If you know a colleague, neighbour, friend or family member, or an unpaid carer who has gone over and beyond for people, why not say a ‘Big Thank You’ to them.”

Where to meet the #BigThankYou team

To help spread the word, the Big Thank You team will be attending a number of events over the coming weeks.

On Saturday, you can find out more about supporting this year’s campaign by speaking to the team at:

• HEART Community Christmas, Headingley Enterprise and Arts Centre, Bennett Rd, Leeds LS6 3HN

• Winter Solstice Open Stage and Market, Open Source Arts, Aire Place Mills, Kirkstall Rd, Leeds LS3 1JL.

Visit for more details.