More from the YEP Christmas Honours List 2019 - part two - for the unsung heroes of Leeds

Here is the second feature about the inspirational people of our city whose stories have had a lasting impact over the last 12 months.

Tuesday, 24th December 2019, 5:00 pm
Updated Wednesday, 25th December 2019, 11:57 am
Val Hewison, of Carers Leeds, is on the YEP Christmas Honours List for 2019

The Yorkshire Evening Post can today reveal its annual Christmas Honours list for 2019.

We are shining a light on the individuals or organisations who deserve to be recognised for their tireless effort, dedication and contribution. ALISON BELLAMY reports.

Without the fans, the mighty Leeds United would not be the club it is today.

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Rachael Campey, with her daughter Lily-Rose, six.

The city is super proud of ‘Super Leeds’ and despite the drama and the ups and downs, on and off the pitch, they arguably remain the football team with the loyalist fan base in the UK.

The Leeds United Supporters Trust is the voice of the fans and, in the club’s centenary year, the Yorkshire Evening Post wants to honour the Trust for its dedication, support and commitment, securing the volunteers a top place on the YEP Honours List for 2019.

They give their unpaid time and effort to bring out what is best about the Mighty Whites, which this year included a special exhibition, held at the Merrion Centre, to celebrate their centenary year.

The Board Members of Leeds United Supporters’ Trust said: “It’s a proud moment for the Trust to be recognised by the YEP for all its hard work over the past year in bringing together the fans, the club and the city to celebrate the Centenary season.

Hansa and Kishor Dabhi, who retired from Hansa's earlier this year, are named in the YEP Christmas Honours List for 2019.

“As a group of volunteers it’s been really exciting and a privilege to help represent the Leeds United Fan base and bring this project to fruition - the feedback we’ve had has been overwhelmingly positive. We look forward to making sure LUFC fans and our members are well represented in 2020 and hopefully it’s in the Premier League.”

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YEP Christmas Honours List 2019 - part one - the unsung heroes of Leeds

After seeing the consequences of poverty close up, Rebekah Wilson decided to do something practical to help.

As assistant head at Shakespeare Primary School, in Burmantofts, she recalls noticing bed bugs on an 11-year old boy who told her he and his brother were sleeping on a cushion. She knew other pupils were sleeping on the floor, the sofa or even the bath.

The Leeds United Supporters Trust exhibition in the Merrion Centre, Leeds, in 2019.

Soon Rebekah set up Zarach, a charity which gives out “bed bundles” which include a brand-new bed, mattress, duvet, pillow, sheets and pyjamas to children that have been referred.

In the two years since then, Zarach has handed out 387 bed bundles, taking around eight referrals per week.

Mrs Wilson said: “He did not have a bed but the shock factor for me was not that. It was that there were no options that we could turn to to change that and get him a bed by the end of the week.”

Rebekah deserves inclusion on the YEP Honours List for her efforts to help children improve their lives, sleep better and concentrate in school.

Over the last 17 years Val Hewison, the chief executive of Carers Leeds has helped turn the much-needed support platform from a small team of nine people, into a massive charity organisation, which now helps more than 10,000 unpaid carers in Leeds.

There is an estimated 72,000 carers in the city, many of them with job, young families and other commitments.

It is thought that around one in nine people care in some capacity for someone else, be it a parent, grandparent, relative or friend.

Val has never lost enthusiasm for the role and has set up many groups within the organisation which offer personalised support, including the Working Carers Employee Forum.

Val said: “I feel humbled to be in this list alongside such incredible people. This is a great way to raise awareness of unpaid carers and the Carers Leeds team will continue to do all we can to make Leeds the best city for carers.”

For more than 33 years they ran the popular Gujurati vegetarian Indian restaurant Hansa’s, at North Street.

Kishor and Hansa Dabhi retired earlier this year from what is thought to be the city’s longest running independent Indian restaurant.

Kishor said: "We are quite anxious to leave, but like everything else, things have to move on and we will still carry on with the rest of our lives.

“We are taking a back seat to enjoy other things that we have missed out on over the last 32 years. The social life has suffered because we have been entertaining everyone else.”

Hansa's opened in 1986 and was the first pure vegetarian restaurant serving food like they do in the state of Gujarat in India. Over the years the restaurant has won many awards and Hansa has written two cookbooks.

They have served soap stars including Nick Miles, who is Jimmy from Emmerdale, and a regular customer.

Kishor is also part of Friends of India Society.

A young mum from Leeds who was forced to leave school after getting pregnant aged 14 recently fulfilled her dream of graduating with her daughter watching on.

Six year-old Lily-Rose was "grinning from ear to ear" as she watched her mother Rachael Campey receive a degree in counselling psychology from Leeds Trinity University.

Rachael, now 21, of Crossgates, said the education system "gave up" on her when she became pregnant.

She said: "Everything I've worked through has been for Lily.

"At the ceremony Lily was just grinning at me and said I looked like someone off Hogwarts.

"I heard her say 'that's my mummy'."

She wrote about her special day on Twitter and her post went viral.

Rachael is now an ambassador for mental health project MindMate and hopes to inspire others.

A tireless team of fundraisers make it onto the YEP Honours List.

They have worked hard to help raise more than £5m to open the new ground-breaking Maggie’s Centre for Yorkshire, in the grounds of St James’s University Hospital in Leeds

Maggie’s and Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust are working in partnership to create the highest quality of cancer support for the people of Yorkshire.

Maggie’s Yorkshire will complement the hospital’s excellent clinical care and will offer the practical, emotional and social support people with cancer and their families and friends need.

The fundraising board of nine members led efforts to raise more than £5m. The centre will officially open early next year but has held carols and events after a soft launch before Christmas.

Martin Jenkins, chairman of Maggie’s Yorkshire Campaign Board said: “We are very grateful for every person who has helped us along the way.

"The centre will cost around £600,000 a year to maintain and keep open so it is vital that we continue the great fundraising and awareness work we have started.”

A Leeds woman who used her first aid training to save a woman's life while on a night out is next on the YEP Honours List.

Alison Midgeley saw a woman had collapsed and rushed over to perform CPR.

Alison, 31, from Kirkstall, was on a night out but started performing CPR - which she had learnt during compulsory First Aid training with McDonald's - and continued while someone dialled 999.

The mum-of-two added: "She was really struggling to breathe, there were wisps coming out. If it wasn't for my first aid training I wouldn't have known what to do. I wasn't thinking of anything but trying to keep her alive, I didn't care what was going on around me."

Later, the woman's daughter, Tracy Smith, saw a Facebook post and got in touch with Alison - explaining that it was her 63-year-old mum Carole Tate who had collapsed and her heart had stopped.

Paramedics have told the family that without Alison's efforts she was unlikely to have survived.

Tracy said: "Alison deserves the recognition, she was amazing. My mum wouldn't be here if it wasn't for her and what she did. I am so glad she was there."

Laura Collins, editor of the Yorkshire Evening Post, said: "Across our city there are countless individuals and organisations doing good work to help others, contributing to their community and also supporting people when they need it most.

"Today we want to honour those people, the unsung heroes, the ones who might not often get any recognition for their tireless efforts. They are named in the Yorkshire Evening Post Christmas Honours List for 2019."