Meet your Everyday Heroes champion
It was always going to be a difficult choice.
Any one of Metro.co.uk’s 17 Everyday Heroes could have been crowned a worthy winner after we announced last month that we wanted to offer a prize and say a special thanks to three of them. That’s why it seemed only right that we left the process of choosing our favourites to our readers.
Each of our Heroes’ stories – which we shared throughout lockdown as Covid-19 claimed lives up and down the country – demonstrated just what can be achieved when we pull together and put others’ needs above our own.
But now the poll has closed, the votes have been counted and we are delighted to reveal that your top Everyday Hero champion is 10-year-old Jake Day, whose heroic 10km daily runs raised over £5,000 for Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospital Charity and covered a massive 250km in the course of a month.
According to mum Kayleigh, Jake completed his 250km target a day early – and celebrated with a bonus run around the pitch at Cardiff City stadium.
‘We got a trophy and a plaque and had a social distanced clap in when Jake and his dad finished, which was lovely,’ she says.
Jake, who receives a £200 voucher from BuyAGift, along with a personalised chocolate hamper from Getting Personal and a bouquet of flowers courtesy of Interflora, loved every minute of his runs – but is still in disbelief that he won Metro.co.uk’s poll. ‘He is so, so chuffed,’ Kayleigh says, adding that her son is already looking ahead to his next charity challenge.
‘He recently mentioned wanting to do something on his bike as he’d be able to do double the distance,’she says.
Jake is still running occasionally but starting secondary school means he will be able to get back to his first love: football.
‘My husband and I couldn’t be more proud,’ adds Kayleigh. ‘His achievement was amazing enough but £5,000 is such a huge amount that will help sick children and their families so much. To have this recognition from Metro.co.uk readers as well is wonderful.’
Taking the well-deserved runner-up spot is Julia Camilleri, who sparked a community-wide effort to support the elderly and high risk in her Essex village during lockdown. Working as part of a team of over 80 volunteers, Julia made sure no one who needed help went without.
Despite lockdown restrictions easing, the team have continued shopping for residents who are still shielding or vulnerable and are setting up a long term support group with 50 volunteers already on board.
‘This will include making sure people have a lifeline to call should they need support in the future,’ Julia tells Metro.co.uk. ‘We are also prepared to carry on where we left off should a second wave occur.
‘The village is definitely closer and I feel like we’ve bridged a gap between the younger and older generations where our paths may otherwise not have crossed.’
Julia is now back at work with her two children returning to school this week but has managed to fit in volunteering around both. ‘The school holidays have been a bit crazy trying to entertain my children who are eight and 12, but they have both been very involved in the support group, which I feel has been a great life lesson for them.’
As for being voted an Everyday Heroes champion, Julia is bashful. ‘I feel a bit embarrassed even being nominated as it was such a huge team effort. I actually voted for Jake because his story was amazing.’
And finally, our third place Hero is Eleanor Segall Mandelstam, founder of Corona Cards, who along with Julia also received a bunch of flowers and a personalised chocolate hamper.
Her lockdown project involved crafting and sending homemade cards to anyone looking to raise their own spirits, or bring some cheer to a friend or family member who was struggling in isolation.
Speaking to Metro.co.uk, Eleanor says she is ‘so proud’ of what she and her team of card-makers were able to achieve in just a few months and hoped the project would inspire others to try similar ventures in the future.
‘We must have sent about 70 cards to Canada, USA and Nigeria as well as all over the UK and Ireland,’ Eleanor explains, adding that a batch sent out to Manchester a nursing home proved a particularly memorable moment. ‘We partnered with another local project aimed at helping the vulnerable people in our wider community.
‘The residents were essentially trapped in their nursing home and the cards we sent gave them a huge amount of joy.’
Corona Cards is now on hiatus as all the team have returned to work full time, but they plan to start up again in the winter ‘if there is a second wave and it’s needed to boost people’s mental health again.
‘The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive and some recipients have kept the cards on their bedroom walls to look at even now. They provided hope and happiness to them during lockdown.’
Going forward, Eleanor says she is keen to raise money for a mental health charity – but not before offering warm congratulations to Jake and Julia. ‘I’m delighted to be a runner up and so proud of Jake, who is only 10 years old, for winning.
‘Just being nominated in this list is a huge achievement.’
Congratulations to all our Everyday Heroes and thank you to everyone who voted.
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