We See You - Our Regional Winners

22 December
At the start of 2021, we launched our 'We See You' awards to celebrate the nation’s local heroes who have gone out of their way to help people in their local areas. 

Although the last 20 months have been challenging, we know so many individuals, charities and businesses have all worked hard to support their communities. Whether through volunteering, fundraising, going above and beyond their job, bringing people together or any general acts of kindness, we wanted to acknowledge some of these community champions and thank them for making a positive difference in their local areas.

After receiving hundreds of entries, the Bayfields' Benevolence Committee selected five regional winners which we're so pleased to share.
North East: Lindy Themistocleous - Boarding School Matron 

Lindy Themistocelous, Senior Boys’ Boarding Matron at Barnard Castle School, was nominated for an Awards by one of her colleagues. Lindy was praised for her selfless commitment to her students, having opted to stay at the school and look after boarders who were unable to return home when the UK lockdown was initiated, rather than go to live with her own family. 

Remaining at the school until the end of the summer term in late July, Lindy also supported boarders who returned to Barnard Castle in August to quarantine and cared for 13 students unable to return home during Christmas 2020.

Stuart Nicholls, who oversees marketing and communications at the school, said: “Lindy embodies every quality a boarding community could ask for in a matron. She maintains a quiet, calm and unflappable presence, balancing that vital role of being the boys’ mother away from home, with calm authority. Her willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty this year has been instrumental in allowing boarding to flourish at Barnard Castle and she has undoubtedly improved the lives of our boarding children throughout this challenging year.”

In response to hearing that she’d been named the North East regional winner, Lindy said: “I feel so honoured and humbled that I was put forward, and I am incredibly grateful be named a regional winner."
“To all my boys in the boarding house, past and present – it is because of you that I love what I do. You are all amazing and each and every one of you has a special place in my heart."
North West: Aimie Hamer - Health and Wellbeing Instructor 

Aimie Hamer from Lancashire won for keeping people fit and healthy – both physically and mentally – during the Coronavirus lockdowns with her online exercise classes. 

As well as focusing on physical fitness, Aimie promotes mental wellbeing which – according to the people who nominated her – prevented those she teaches from struggling further during the long periods spent at home during the lockdowns. 

In response to hearing that she’d been named the North West regional winner, Aimie said: 

“I absolutely love my role and bringing people together to exercise. I feel lucky to have been nominated simply for doing something I really enjoy."

“I relish the chance to make other people feel good about themselves through exercise, and starting the classes online during the lockdown was a way of maintaining a group connection focused on staying fit and healthy."

“Exercise is mindful, stress relieving, fun, mentally stimulating and physically rewarding, and I was never going to let lockdown steal that from people.”
Yorkshire: Katie Hall - Homeless Charity Volunteer

Katie Hall has won for her tireless efforts to improve the wellbeing of vulnerable people in the city, particularly during the pandemic.
Katie Hall was nominated by 10 different people and was praised for always putting others first, distributing food donations across the community, connecting the homeless with relevant charities and braving all weathers to offer people living on the streets with company throughout the night.  
In response to hearing that she’d been named, Katie said: “I’m flabbergasted to have been nominated, let alone by 10 different people."
“I first got involved with Hidden Homeless in Leeds three years ago, quite by chance. I used to cook a lot and was given too many apples as part of a food order, so I contacted the charity to ask if they would benefit from some apple crumbles – they said yes and I’m still here today."
“I’ve never been homeless, but I do live with a mental health condition myself, which means I can empathise with a lot of people on the streets and what they’re going through, which helps gain their trust and makes them more accepting of our help. It’s a fulfilling role which is all centred around other people which is why I love it.”
Midlands: Anya Small - Choir Teacher from Solihull

Anya Small won an award for helping to bring people together and keep spirits high through the power of music since the pandemic hit.
Anya, a singing teacher and director of Pop Voices, was nominated by members of her choir. They praised Anya for her hard work in making sure that they could still meet throughout the pandemic – albeit virtually for several months – to do what they love and benefit from the physical and mental health benefits of singing.
In response to hearing that she’d been named the West Midlands regional winner, Anya said: “As a choir leader I want to bring music and a sense of community to people who love singing and make it accessible to everyone. This became more important than ever in March 2020 when we suddenly found ourselves going into lockdown. Setting up the virtual singing groups proved to be invaluable to those who got involved, from young children and their parents who were home schooling, to people who were shielding or wanted to connect with others. Finding a way to bring music and a way to socialise, whether that’s online or stood in a field two metres apart, has been a lifeline for many of us – and it’s been important for me to have something positive to focus on too."
South East: Emma Brewer - Dance Teacher from Farnham

Emma Brewer has won a community champion award for helping to bring people together and keep spirits high through a creativity challenge during the pandemic.

Emma runs First Dance Studio in Woking and was nominated by one of her dancers. Emma was praised for bringing people from the local area together with a virtual and interactive A to Z creative challenge. Starting in January 2021, participants were encouraged each week to turn their hand to a creative task representing each letter of the alphabet – for example, art for A, baking for B, and cooking for C. 

In response to hearing that she’d been named the South East regional winner, Emma said: “In January this year, when the country faced yet another lockdown and disruption to their lives, I knew I needed to do something to create a sense of community and purpose."

“I know through my dance studio just how important community and creativity is for people’s mental health and wellbeing. During the first quarter of 2021, this never felt more important. Ultimately, I wanted to create a space for people to find joy and escape from the difficulties we were all facing in our day-to-day lives. The feedback has been so positive and I’m overwhelmed by the response.”
Thanks to all our winners for making a positive difference in their local community. As well as winning £100, each regional winner will now go into the national round of the Bayfields Opticians & Audiologists We See You Community Champion Awards and stands a chance of winning £1,000.