Local heroes receive awards for outstanding community spirit

Two local heroes from Bedlington have been honoured for their incredible work in the community.

By Amanda Bourn
Friday, 31st December 2021, 3:26 pm
Donna Swan, founder of Calmer Therapy, who also won the Care Team award, Tyler Ridley and ???
Donna Swan, founder of Calmer Therapy, who also won the Care Team award, Tyler Ridley and ???

Tyler Ridley, 14, has osteogenesis imperfecta, benign hypermobility syndrome and ADHD. He has spent a lot of his life in hospital and any small knock can result in him breaking a bone.

But despite his health problems, the 15-year-old has raised thousands for Morpeth-based charity Calmer Therapy, and the Brittle Bones Society.

He also plans to take part in the Junior Great North Run next year and even tackle a zip wire off the Tyne Bridge to raise cash. And if that wasn’t enough, he plays a major part in the running of a food bank from Calmer Therapy’s premises in Guide Post.

Dean Dobson, who has been presented with Ian Lavery's Local Hero award for 2021.

It is therefore no wonder the judges of the Northern Children of Courage Awards found it easy to single him out for recognition, and give him their annual Fundraising Award.

The aim of the awards is to honour children and young people who have overcome barriers, achieved something extraordinary or helped and supported others, and are organised by the St James’s Place Charitable Foundation.

Delighted mum Kim said: “Tyler really is amazing – he would give his last to anyone.

"He has such a strong caring nature and always puts himself at the end of the queue. I am just so proud of him.”

Tyler, who attends Collingwood School in Morpeth, also cares for his grandmother, 85, who has dementia.

Mark Beverley, from the St James’s Place Charitable Foundation, said: “These young people are remarkable and are an inspiration to us all. We all have things going on in our lives but the courage these young people have shown is amazing and they all deserve the recognition they’ve received.”

Meanwhile, Bedlington man Dean Dobson, the founder of a Long Covid Support Group, has been crowned Ian Lavery MP’s Local Hero champion for Wansbeck this year.

Dean beat off stiff competition from Kevin Miller, a local comedian who has become popular across Northumberland throughout the pandemic for his fancy dress, Rob Cox and Danielle Ramsay from the YMCA, and the Wansbeck Valley Food Bank.

Since March 2020, Dean has been suffering from a severe case of Long Covid which has affected his ability to work and live a normal social life.

He decided to start a support group to help others suffering from the same poorly understood and underappreciated illness.

He said: “I feel like more needs to be done still. Boris has come out and said that we’ve already put millions into the NHS, but lots of people in the NHS still don’t understand Long Covid so I think more awareness needs to be out there.

“The biggest piece of advice for someone with Long Covid is you are not alone. I know relatives may say there is nothing the matter with you, but they’re not going through it. There is 16,000 in my group and 1.5 million in the UK who are suffering from it.”

MP Ian Lavery added: “There were so many fantastic candidates this year and they were all winners in my eyes, but unfortunately only one can be officially crowned as my Local Hero and this year Dean was a worthy champion.I look forward to working alongside all the other candidates to support their fantastic work.”