Babs Protheroe from Rhydyfelin, a truly inspirational 66-year-old woman who is blind and suffers from hearing difficulties, has been shortlisted for the Groundwork UK Community Leader of the Year award.
Babs will travel to the Groundwork Community Awards in London on 2nd of November to find out whether she wins the accolade and to celebrate the actions of community groups and inspirational people from across the UK.
Despite being completely blind for 14 years, Babs is an incredibly active and passionate person. After raising three children, she began volunteering for several national organisations including the Royal Institute for the Blind (RNIB) and Girl Guides.
A trained counsellor, currently Babs leads the RNIB UK telephone helpline for blind parents, ‘Talk and support’, from her home and has been described by the RNIB as an ‘invaluable volunteer and spokesperson’.
Babs also volunteers for the Girl Guides, having done so for over 30 years, organising activities, trips and mentoring others, she has even travelled to India with the organisation to teach young people at a school.
In additional to this, Babs set up a coffee morning for the visually impaired in the Rhydyfelin area ten years ago after noticing a gap in services. This developed into the Sensory Impairment Drop-In Scheme (SIDS), with more than 20 members accessing this vital service twice a month. For some members, it is the only community activity they access.
After finding out she had been shortlisted, following a Newydd Housing Association nomination, Babs said
“I was totally shocked when I found out I had been shortlisted, I really can’t believe that someone would think so much of what I do.
“After I left residential school, there were no jobs available to me as I was disabled, I felt I had so much to give. Someone once told me, don’t focus on what you can’t do, focus on what you can do and who you are, and this has stuck with me. I love people, I love the community of Rhydyfelin and the people around me who help me achieve.
“If I win I will share the award with the wonderful people who help me carry out all my community work, the volunteers that surround me. It will give me an extra spur to do twice as much as I did before to prove I am worthy of it!”
Graham Duxbury, national CEO of Groundwork said
“I’d like to congratulate Babs and all of the other finalists at our awards. Having judged some of the entries it makes you realise how many extraordinary everyday heroes we have in our communities.
“Thanks to their efforts our parks and open spaces are better looked after, libraries and heritage centres are being kept open, food banks and furniture projects continue to help people meet their basic needs and communities are blazing a trail in recycling and renewable energy.
“These achievements are seldom noticed beyond the neighbourhood or the people directly benefiting. We thought it was time to change that and to celebrate the power of community action.
“The Groundwork Community Awards will shine a light on what’s already being achieved and celebrate the power of community action.”