The actions of ordinary, often courageous, people can sometimes inspire us. The following stories are a few selected from the recent news (taken from www.prideofbritain.com). Please use the form below to let us know about more and we’ll happily include them on this page.
DESPITE losing his sight to cancer, eight-year-old Kelsey Trevett, eight, has refused to let blindness restrict him, becoming a champion for the rights of other disabled youngsters.
Diagnosed with eye cancer at just 16-weeks-old, a six-month course of chemotherapy combined with laser treatment and surgery reduced the tumours but his left eye could not be saved.
By seven months he was blind in one eye and had limited sight in the other.
Then, during a routine hospital check-up when he was five, his parents were told the tumours had returned.
This time, Kelsey had chemo injections directly into his eye but the extreme treatment was unsuccessful leaving him totally blind.
Yet, despite the devastating news, his spirit remained unbroken. As they traveled home from the hospital he told his devastated mum Jo, “You can’t always have what you want Mum, can you?”
Today, Kelsey has artificial eyes but his determination to live a normal life sees him attend mainstream school where he is a Grade 2 reader and writer of Braille and a touch-typist.
He’s also a keen dancer, plays football and dodgeball and incredibly has even learned to ski and abseil.
“I don’t think anything is off-limits,” insists Kelsey. “I find someway to do it. It’s as if there’s a brick wall in front of me and I just have to make a hole in it.”
What would he say to others in his situation?
“Don’t be angry. Don’t be sad. Just get on with it. There’s nothing you can’t do.”
Kelsey, from Watford, has also has even become a member of the local Hertfordshire Council’s Children’s Commissioning Forum, helping to ensure that disabilities are taken into account when new children’s activities are being planned.
“It’s important that kids with disabilities don’t feel left out,” he says. “You want to be able to do the things that your friends are doing.”
To help determine how mainstream children’s activities could be more inclusive of disabled youngsters, he has spoken to 40 delegates, including representatives from the police and local council, about how his blindness affects his life.
Proud Jo said: “He told them what it was like to be blind and explained that simple changes could make a massive difference.
“We’re extremely proud. He’s actually made it so easy for us because of his own attitude.
“He’s always led the way and he thinks everything is for the taking.
“When we were told he would lose his sight we could have crumbled, but because of Kelsey’s approach we’ve been forced to carry on. When he’s coping so well how can we not?”
For 34 years, throughout even the darkest days of The Troubles in the 1970s, grandmother Mary Kelly has devoted all her spare time to trying to unite young people in her divided community in North Belfast.
And she has vowed to continue her good work despite a shocking level of intimidation directed towards her. This year alone, Mary has survived two bomb attacks and a hammer attack on her home.
Mary, 63, works with young people, running summer groups and workshops aimed at getting them off the streets. In an area almost equally divided between Catholics and Protestant residents, many local youngsters would have turned to gangs, violence and paramilitary activity
“From when I moved to the area, I saw kids from both sides being sucked into The Troubles at very young ages,” she says. “I decided we had to get these kids off the streets.”
She regularly invites them into her house to talk through problems, from drug issues to the effects of gang and paramilitary violence in Belfast.
Since founding the Skegoneill Glandore Common Purpose project, she has dedicated her time to bettering the lives of her neighbours by encouraging people from both sides to work together and make their community a better place.
She has also campaigned to turn an area of wasteground between the two communities from a bleak no-man’s land into a public park.
But despite the mainland British public’s belief that there is little violence in Northern Ireland these days, Mary has been the victim of three attacks on her home so far this year.
“In January someone put out all my windows with a hammer,” she says.
“Then in April a pipe bomb, loaded with ball-bearings, was left on my windowsill as I slept. My living room looked like it had been sprayed with a machine gun, with holes all over the walls and glass everywhere. I can still smell the burning PVC from the window frames.”
But steadfast Mary refused to back down, taking her anti-violence campaign to Stormont, home of the Northern Ireland Assembly.
In June, however, her home was again targeted in a second bomb attack.
“It’s clear they wanted to frighten me,” Mary says. “But they’re not going to stop me or the good people in this area. Nobody wants this on their doorstep any more.”
Following the attacks, the horrified community organised a rally uniting Protestants and Catholics to show their support for Mary. One placard read: “An attack on Mary is an attack on us all.”
Mary says: “What I am doing is right. And I would tell that to these cowards directly if they had the guts to come and speak to my face.”
Glasgow Airport Workers
When two crazed terrorists crashed a flaming Jeep into the main terminal at Glasgow Airport on June 30, the natural reaction of hundreds of holidaymakers was to run away. But John Smeaton, Michael Kerr, Alex McIlveen and Stephen Clarkson thought otherwise and put their own lives in danger to stop the terrorist attack.
Michael, 40, from Denny in Stirlingshire, was one of the first people on the scene after the Jeep Cherokee crashed through the terminal doors just 20 yards from where he was standing.
“I thought it was joyriders at first,” says Michael, who was returning from a family holiday. “It was only when the passenger started attacking a policeman I realised what was going on.”
Michael ran to the aid of the policeman and began kicking and punching the terrorist, but was injured in the ensuing scuffle and broke his leg. By that time, Alex, 45, and baggage handler John, 31, had joined the fray to help police overcome the terrorists and stop them lighting fuel canisters in the boot of the car.
“One man threw a petrol bomb out of the car and there was a huge fireball,” recalls Alex. “The other, who was on fire, was trying to open the boot and light a load of canisters in there. “I could see flames inside the car and smoke was everywhere from the burning tyres.”
John, who lives in Renfrewshire, tackled the terrorists and then pulled Michael to safety away from the blazing car. “All I thought about was helping the policeman,” he recalls. “Nothing else went through my mind. It was all just instinct.
“It was a real communal effort though. There were lots of people doing their utmost to stop these guys.” Stephen, 41, who works as a groundsman and lives in Penilee, Glasgow, grappled with one of the terrorists who continued his attack even though his body was smouldering.
“I’d just watched the police douse him with a fire extinguisher,” he says, “but as soon as the flames were out he lashed out, punching and kicking them. “Then he started coming towards me and the Jeep and I thought, ‘I’ve got to stop this guy’. I just went on automatic. “I ran towards him and struck him in the chest with my forearm and elbow, and he fell to the floor.” Michael adds, “Yes, it was dangerous. But you either do something or you don’t. I couldn’t do nothing.”
One of the terrorists later died in hospital from burns injuries. Three other men are in custody charged with conspiracy to cause explosions, both in Glasgow and in connection with the attempted bombing in central London on June 29.
Sharing a prison cell with a heroin addict going cold turkey was the final straw that made Nathan James abandon his criminal past.
He has since embarked on a mission to inspire disadvantaged youths to break out of the same cycle of unemployment and crime that saw him jailed twice and shot in the leg – all before he reached the age of 23.
Nathan left home aged 15 and began dealing drugs to earn cash on the streets of his hometown, Leeds.
“I was selling anything I could get my hands on from cannabis to heroin,” says Nathan, now 27. “I wanted to make money and drug-dealing was all I knew.”
But after getting drafted into an armed robbery as a look-out, he was jailed for two and half years.
One year after his release, a police sting uncovered nearly £2,000 at his home and his fingerprints on a ”
dealer business card”. Convicted of drug dealing and money laundering, Nathan was sent to the notorious Armley Prison in Leeds.
“That was where everything changed for me,” he says. “My son, Damarni, was about to be born and I had been put in a cell with a guy coming off heroin.
“I lived the cold turkey with him. The vomiting, the crying, the sweating. To me heroin was just a product which I sold but never took. I realised for the first time what my profession did to people and I had to stop.
“I knew kids on the outside looked up to me. I saw what kind of role model I had become and knew I had to change.”
He decided to take part in The Prince’s Trust Team programme, to develop his mentoring skills.
Out of prison he landed a role as a Prince’s Trust assistant team leader at Cleveland Fire Service, running 12-week courses to prepare disadvantaged 16-25 year-olds for employment.
He works for West Middlesbrough Neighbour Hood Trust managing five staff on a project within charity Just4Youth, holding courses including finance management, beating stereotypes and drug awareness.
“I want to help give these kids the skills and confidence to have an honest go at life themselves – something I never had,” he says.
“Young people need a voice. We need to listen to their needs instead of slamming the door in their faces,” he adds.
He also works with The Chernobyl Children Life Line Link that invites nine to 12 year olds from the radiation-plagued Ukrainian city to England for fresh air and new experiences.
Nathan, who has worked hard to earn qualifications in Customer Care and Sports Science, adds: “I hope to ensure other youngsters avoid the mistakes I’ve made.”
Despite losing her homeland and her father, Asmeret Tesfazghi considers herself a lucky woman. After fleeing the war-torn African country of Eritrea in 1989, Asmeret and her mother Letina arrived in London with Letina’s other children – an older son and daughter – to seek refuge.
Since then, the family have built a new life in the UK and have been fostering vulnerable teenagers for the past three years.
Letina and Asmeret became a fostering team after Asmeret’s older brother and sister left home when she was only 22.
Asmeret, now 25, shares the responsibilities and duties of looking after the teenagers with her mum, and uses her experiences of trauma and loss to connect with the children.
She has always wanted to give something back to the young people in the UK and fostering means she can help provide a stable and caring home in which teens can start a new life.
Asmeret constantly puts the foster children before herself and, in doing so, has sacrificed the type of social life other girls her age enjoy. She is currently looking after a young boy and girl.
When the family from hell moved into her street, Lesley Pulman single-handedly took on the bullies and won.
Lesley’s ordeal began in 2001 when, overnight, her pleasant street in Manchester turned into a drop-in centre for yobs. “They had no respect for anybody or anything,” she says, “and didn’t fear anyone, including the police.”
The group taunted the community claiming, “The street is ours now”, and property agents told residents they would not be able to give away their homes.
“We were in shock at the speed with which it happened,” says Lesley. “Everything was dictated by them.”
The gang threw bricks and stones at people’s homes, and carried knives and baseball bats, committing random acts of violence to keep the residents in a perpetual state of fear.
Lesley, 56, was threatened and verbally abused on a daily basis. “It was urban terrorism,” she says. “People were too frightened to walk down the street. The group were confident no-one would do anything.”
But when the thugs severely beat up a family as they returned home, Lesley knew something had to be done.
Multiple sclerosis sufferer Lesley turned to the council. They advised her about ASBOs – Anti-Social Behaviour Orders – which could be brought against the troublemakers if enough evidence could be collated.
Lesley installed a video camera and began recording the thuggish behaviour and drug dealing. She encouraged five neighbours to keep incident diaries and compiled a dossier of evidence over seven months.
When a hearing was finally secured, Lesley was the only one of the petrified residents prepared to stand up in court and give evidence, despite receiving death threats.
Lesley successfully secured ASBOs against the ringleaders and overnight split up the group.
“It empowered the community,” she says. “You could see the physical difference immediately.”
Lesley now works as a link between council case workers and the police, offering witnesses support. “Being a witness in an ASBO is very personal,” she says. “You are close to the perpetrator and see them on a daily basis.”
Lesley has also since set up the Witness Support Fund charity which offers financial assistance to those suffering from anti-social neighbours.
“The biggest fear is fear itself,” she says. “Every scumbag in Manchester knows where I live, but I’m entitled to live in peace.”