Local Heroes Rewarded at Mayor's Reception

New awards recognise our community's unsung stars

Unsung community heroes and people with incredible talents were given the recognition they so richly deserve at a special reception on Wednesday, May 15.

Hammersmith & Fulham (H&F) Council launched the inaugural Agilisys H&F Heroes Awards in February.

The campaign aimed to shine a light on the numerous people in our community who put others before themselves or have a special talent that deserves to be celebrated.

Residents were asked to nominate their heroes in five different categories and the Council received almost 50 names in total.

Winners were selected by a judging panel that met last month.

Winners and runner-up were presented with trophies, certificates and Westfield London vouchers at an awards ceremony in the Mayor’s Foyer.

More than 80 people attended the event, including the Mayor of Hammersmith & Fulham, Cllr Belinda Donovan, council Leader, Cllr Nicholas Botterill and Steven Beard ,Chief Executive of the award’s main sponsor Agilisys. Guests enjoyed lights refreshments and music from guitarist Geoff Robb.

The first honour of the evening went to Bill Cox who won the Charity Worker category. Bill has been a familiar face to football-mad youngsters for 30 years thanks to his involvement with the Sunday morning children’s five-a-side league at Lillie Road Rec. He is also involved with the Fulham Community Partnership Trust and is on the board of H&F Credit Union Limited.

The evening took on a more sombre tone when Piotr Mickiewicz was posthumously awarded with a Heroes award in the Crime Fighter category (sponsored by the Fulham Broadway Shopping Centre).

Piotr, a street cleaner for council contractor Serco paid the ultimate sacrifice last August when he was stabbed as he heroically tried to stop a burglar fleeing the scene in Rylett Road, Shepherd’s Bush.

Piotr’s wife Busie collected the trophy in front of his parents, Stanislaw and Jadwiga and former work colleagues.

Latymer Upper School student Tara Thakkar won the Young Achiever award (sponsored by Specsavers Fulham). Tara is hugely active within the St John Ambulance cadet movement and has been named London’s cadet of the year for her first aid work and contribution to the community.

The Entrepreneur award (sponsored by the Hammersmith Broadway Shopping Centre) was presented to Shepherds Bush model Kim Calera. Kim has turned her life around after finding herself homeless on the streets of Mumbai, India. She now runs a successful jewellery business and donates some of her profits to charity.

Ralph Land walked away with the final award, in the X-Factor category (sponsored by Horton & Garton Estate Agents.)

Ralph may by 84 years old but that has not stopped him from raising a staggering £450,000 for the pancreatic cancer lab at Hammersmith Hospital. This included taking part in a 12,000ft skydive with his identical twin brother Frank.

H&F Council Leader, Cllr Nicholas Botterill, said: “The Council received numerous nominations for local people who really are doing incredible things. When we sat down to select the winners and runners-up last month, we were all genuinely taken aback by some of the things that people do purely because they want to put something back into the community.

“While there can only be one winner in each category, it is fair to say that all of the nominees deserve recognition as these are the people who help to make Hammersmith & Fulham the best place to live and visit in London.”

Steven Beard, Chief Executive of Agilisys, said: "I was immensely impressed with the breadth of achievements displayed by the nominees for these awards -- making judging certainly difficult! As long-term partners of H&F Council, Agilisys is proud to support this award and to be a part of a community where so many people are committed to making a difference to the lives of others throughout the borough."

Award trophies were supplied by Sid’s of 70 Fulham Palace Road. Sid's is the borough’s first choice shoe repairs, key cutting, trophies and engraving and locks, grilles and gates and has over 20 years experience.

The winners

Bill Cox

When QPR fan Bill Cox isn’t cheering on the Hoops, he’s running the Lillie Road five-a-side football league on Sundays. Bill has chaired the league for nearly 30 years, helping hundreds of young players, with around 20 clubs playing on seven pitches at the recreation ground.

“I’m a big fan of five-a-side,” he said. “I started it in the early 1980s. Some of the ones I coached are now grandparents, cheering on their grandchildren every Sunday!”

Bill, who is one of the Friends of Normand Park, also set up the Credit Union charity in North End Road, to help people with their finances.

Tara Thakkar

Seventeen year-old Latymer Upper pupil Tara founded the London Youth Board to boost community participation among young people. “It’s a great way to get people out of their houses and doing something positive,” she said.

Tara is also an active cadet with St John Ambulance, even being named as the organisation’s cadet of the year in the capital. Recently she helped organise a tea party for elderly people in Hammersmith – a group that she feels can too often be overlooked.

“There’s always a lot of admin to do in the evenings, and it takes up most of my weekends, but it’s worth it,” she said. “For me the highlight of what I do is seeing the smiles on the faces of the young people going home after a successful event.”

Kim Calera

Drawing on tough experiences in her own modelling life, Kim now helps new models avoid the pitfalls and darker side of the international glamour industry. A Shepherds Bush resident, she shot to fame at the age of 14 when she won a competition in the teenagers’ magazine Sugar.
But after a fallout with her employers left her homeless in India, she launched her business, Calera Jewellery.

“I love Asian jewellery,” she said. “I love Asian colours and I love their work ethic.”

Ten per cent of her profits now go to support a charity helping educate poor children, while Kim also campaigns to help those trapped in the sex industry.

Ralph Land

Some people slow down in their retirement, but not Fulham’s Ralph Land. The 84-year-old has raised £450,000 in the past few years through tireless fundraising for the pancreatic cancer lab at Hammersmith Hospital.

Ralph, of Stevenage Road, began his efforts after the disease claimed his wife, Jacqueline, in 2010. Among his sponsored exploits have been a 12,000ft skydive, alongside his identical twin brother Frank, on their shared birthday two years ago.

Full list of winners and runners-up:


Winner - Bill Cox
Runners up - Iwona Macalka and Rasheda Ginja Ashanti


Winner - Piotr Mikiewitz
Rummers up - Keith Ealey and Lance and Sue Pierson


Winner - Tara Thakkar
Runners up - Fred Gill and Charlie Gregory


Winner - Kim Calera
Runners up - Emily Goodall and Donna Bellamy


Winner - Ralph Land
Runners up - Isabella Hindley and Emma Hutchinson


May 16, 2013