Leeds couple honoured for 'incredible' voluntary service in Bramley

A husband and wife team who are the driving force behind a  community group that supports dozens of vulnerable families in Bramley have been recognised in the Queen's Birthday Honours 2021.

By Mark Lavery
Saturday, 12th June 2021, 4:45 am
Updated Saturday, 12th June 2021, 11:04 am

Grandparents Philip and Angela McConnell have each been awarded a British Empire Medal for services to the community for their work with Bramley Care Bears.

The couple set up the community support group in October 2019 because they wanted to do something positive after witnessing deprivation in the area.

Around 35 volunteers run regular food bank sessions which help up around 90 families a week.

Philip and Angela McConnell Photo: Jonathan Gawthorpe

Bramley Care Bears volunteers do garden makeovers for vulnerable tenants and community litter picks.

And they organise craft activities and are set to launch a homework club for local school children who need help with their studies.

Group chairman Philip, 52, said: "Our aim is to consider anything that benefits the community."

He added: "We were very surprised to receive this wonderful honour."

Philip and Angela McConnell Photo: Jonathan Gawthorpe

Angela, 49, who is secretary of Bramley Care Bears, said the honour is like "winning the lottery."

She said: "We just want to make a positive difference in the community."

Before lockdown, the food bank served ten to fifteen families a week.

But demand has surged to around 90 families since the start of the crisis, leading to extra food bank sessions .

Bramley Care Bears run food bank sessions from 11am to 12pm on Wednesdays and Fridays at Bramley Community Centre and on Sundays at Fairfield Community Centre.

Philip and his team of volunteers source food and other supplies from a wider range of donors including local takeaways, restaurants and major supermarkets including Tesco.

Philip said some of the people that have used the food bank service have ended up volunteering with Bramley Care Bears.

He said: "We are making new friends. It has become like an additional family."

The couple were nominated for the honour by Coun Kevin Ritchie (Lab/Bramley and Stanningley).

Coun Ritchie said: "I am delighted to hear my nominations for a Covid-19 Honour for Philip and Angela were successful.

"I was moved to nominate them for their incredible voluntary service, supporting vulnerable people, inspiring and engaging a huge number of volunteers by organising a foodbank and craft activities throughout the Covid period, as the key drivers of community group Bramley Care Bears.

"Congratulations to them both. They are such worthy recipients and thank you to the other volunteers and people of our wonderful Bramley community for their continued support of the project."