Colors: Blue Color

The team at the iconic Birmingham Back to Backs has won the prestigious Dementia Hero Award in the category ‘Dementia Friendly Business’.

The winners were announced at a virtual awards ceremony on Thursday 20 May, which were hosted by Alzheimer’s Society supporter TV presenter, writer and journalist, Richard Madeley. The Dementia Hero Awards took place during Dementia Action Week, which runs from the 17-23 May.

The Birmingham Back to Backs’ Reminiscence team was one of three finalists in their category, ‘Dementia Friendly Business – Small and Medium Category’. This award category recognised organisations that have gone over and above to become dementia-friendly, for their customers and employees. The category was split by large organisation (over 250 staff) and small/medium organisation (up to 249 staff). The award winner was announced by TV presenter and journalist, Angela Rippon CBE.

The awards, which are sponsored by Tunstall Healthcare, took place virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic and showcased the stories of people doing outstanding things during the pandemic – Alzheimer’s Society’s dementia heroes.

The dedicated Reminiscence team at the Birmingham Back to Backs, located in the city centre on Hurst Street, have been working with the Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust to make a meaningful difference for people with dementia and their families.

Claire Pitt, a Reminiscence team volunteer at the Birmingham Back to Backs, said: “We were so pleased to be nominated and so surprised to have been shortlisted as a finalist, but to have actually won the award is fantastic. Everyone in the team has worked so hard and we all enjoy doing what we do for people with dementia.

“Before lockdown we ran meet up sessions for people with dementia and their carers to come along and visit. We would sit in the Back to Back living rooms and we set the tables up and had tea. Each session had a theme, such as childhood, and another time we spoke about food and cookery. The group would reminisce about their childhood or about cooking when they were younger, and we had historical objects from that time-period on display.

“The best thing about the sessions is the way you see people with dementia light up in front of you – they sit up and they remember something. When they talk about themselves and their memories, they are the expert and it’s so wonderful to see. Carers have told us that after the sessions, the people with dementia would leave and talk about the session at home or even a week later.

“Since the pandemic hit, we have been running the sessions on Zoom every other week and showing reminiscence images, such as cooking utensils, old toys, and we have a show and tell slot where people with dementia show an object on camera and talk about what it means to them.

“It’s such a great thing to do and it’s wonderful to see how it helps people. There are so many people affected by dementia, and their carers too, who need support, and this number is growing as our population ages, so it’s so important to help and involve them. Society as a whole needs to become more dementia friendly.”

Alzheimer’s Society Area Manager for Midlands Central, Janice Le Tellier, said: “Throughout the pandemic so many individuals, groups and organisations have gone above and beyond to support people affected by dementia. This year’s Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Hero Awards provided the perfect opportunity to celebrate the achievements of these unsung heroes.

“It’s been so inspiring to hear the stories of those dedicated to caring for people with dementia, finding innovative solutions in research, and the campaigners and media fighting for the rights of people living with dementia. They are all making a difference.

“We are delighted that the Reminiscence team at the Birmingham Back to Backs has won the Dementia Hero Awards for Dementia Friendly Business.

“The past year has been tough for all of us. But imagine how much worse it would have been if you couldn’t understand why it was happening: why you no longer saw your loved ones; why your carers stopped visiting or why they wore masks. Tragically, this was the reality for tens of thousands of people living with dementia in the UK.

“Since the pandemic began, Alzheimer’s Society support services have been used 3.7 million times, showing that people affected by dementia need us now more than ever.”

Eight-year-old Josh Purkis from Birmingham has cut his waist length hair in support of two charities that helped his family when his little sister was taken seriously ill with a brain tumour.

Josh had been growing his hair since 2019 when his sister Verity lost hers from having chemotherapy. He has so far raised over £1,916 for Ronald McDonald House Charities UK and is donating his luscious locks to The Little Princess Trust.

The Purkis family were on holiday on the Isle of Wight when Josh’s sister became poorly and was transferred to Southampton Children’s hospital. She was diagnosed with a brain tumour and immediately operated on. The family, 130 miles from their home in Birmingham, were given a room in Ronald McDonald House Southampton so they could be close to Verity during her treatment. The 52-bedroom House, situated within minutes’ walk of the hospital wards, kept the family together during a critical time.

Of their support for Ronald McDonald House Charities UK, Abi, Josh’s mum, said:

‘When Verity was taken ill on holiday in the Isle of Wight she had to be transferred to Southampton hospital where she underwent two brain surgeries to remove as much of her tumour as possible. Through the Ronald McDonald House Southampton we were given a room in the House next to the hospital.  This meant that Josh, his brother Ben, and their Dad were able to visit Verity and me during her stay, and also gave me a place to rest and recuperate when Verity was being looked after by family or in surgery.

“The use of this room and access to the facilities at the Ronald McDonald House meant we could still see each other and be together as a family at such a difficult time, especially as we were all still in shock and grieving the death of my eldest sister Liz. We have always been so grateful to Ronald McDonald House Charities UK, Josh has decided he wants to donate any money he raises from cutting his hair, as a way of saying a huge thank you to them.”

Ronald McDonald House Charities UK has twelve Houses across the UK situated in or near hospital grounds to enable seriously ill children to have their families close by when they are undergoing treatment and to maintain a degree of normal family life.

The last year has been especially tough for young people who have struggled with home schooling and been without daily contact with friends and their wider support group. Yet with these challenges many young people have shown remarkable resilience and a number have been involved in helping others in the community who they view as having a harder time than them.

The West Midlands Lieutenancy aims to reward and celebrate people doing extraordinary things to support their community and each year individuals and charity volunteers are recognised through the established Honours system. Until last year there has not been a special award for young people going the “extra mile” to help others but it was decided to introduce one to acknowledge the outstanding contribution young people were making during the pandemic and to continue this award in future years to highlight the incredible things young people do.

The West Midlands Lieutenancy Young Active Citizen Award was launched last autumn and schools across the region were invited to share stories of pupils who they knew were contributing in amazing ways.

Nominations came from across the region with young people showing caring, dedication and passion to help others. As well as dedicating many hours of volunteering, many showed initiative and imagination in how they were helping others.

There were children helping promote and run food banks, delivering meals for those in need and challenges to raise money for the NHS. Others recorded themselves reading books to share with younger children, set up youth clubs and youth kitchens to prevent children going onto the streets.

There are inspirational stories of visits to recovery and rehabilitation centres, buying nail polish to paint elderly patient nails and even creating songs to sing to NHS staff.

Their efforts were amazing and each one will receive a signed certificate from the Lord-Lieutenant, John Crabtree OBE, who is delighted with the response. He said; “We knew young people were doing some fantastic activities to help others but the new award has provided an opportunity to find out how much is going on and how young people are contributing. It is hugely heart-warming to hear their stories and I am impressed with their ingenuity and the lengths they have gone to make such a positive contribution to help others.

“I am looking forward to meeting many of them later in the year and I am grateful for all the schools that helped highlight their endeavours to us.”  From all 38 nominations, fourteen young people have been chosen to meet the Lord-Lieutenant to receive their prize at a ceremony later in the year (when hopefully we can do this).

These young people include:

Harvey Kataria from St Michael’s School, Dudley who supported and promoted the Black Country foodbank with a “Kindness Is Powerful” campaign around National Kindness Day on November 13.

Emily and Oliver Lonsdale from Bristnall Hall Academy, Oldbury who coordinated their own food donation scheme and promoted it to support the Smethwick Foodbank.

Saimah Zulfiquar, a pupil at Edgbaston High School for Girls, who read and recorded a different book each week that could be accessed to the younger pupils in the school to support home schooling.

Jayme Nelson from Sandwell Community School who used the year to turn his life around and achieve some amazing results that include winning a Young Writer’s Prize for his short poem “Stuck in the Freezer”.

Grace Bullman from Finham Park School in Coventry used a wheel barrow to go round the streets locally and give books and teddies to children.

Aran Bansal from King Edward’s School, Edgbaston set up the “26 Challenge “ which aimed to raise money for the NHS to make up for money not being raised from marathons. He got his school on a 260km bike ride in May, on fitness campaigns with 26 press-ups and running 26 miles a week to raise a staggering £8,100 for the NHS charity!

Liam Ubalde from Pines Special School in Erdington for supporting his parents when both were unwell and keeping their spirits up.

Brock Daffern of Heath School, Wolverhampton who used his own 3D printer to produce headbands for protective visors before distributing them to the NHS.

Ashley Copson of Pool Hayes Academy in Willenhall volunteered for Walsall Outreach and delivered hampers, fish and chips to the elderly, vulnerable and homeless every week.

J-Jay and Maison Whiston from Ninestiles, an Academy in Acocks Green volunteered for the Fox Hollies Forum, a community group that represents 4,000 local residents. They set up a Youth Kitchen and Youth Club, hoping to keep children like them from hanging around the streets, or sitting at home attached to a phone or games console.

Emma Wood and Chelsea Jade Grant from St Michaels, Dudley, who played a major role in improving a local park and being advocates for young people in the community.

The above will all receive a certificate and prize from the Lord-Lieutenant in the coming year and all nominations will be receiving certificates of recognition signed by the Lord-Lieutenant.

The West Midlands Lieutenancy will be contacting schools again this year to ask them to help identify young active citizens. If you know of someone aged between 11-18 years deserving recognition for going the “extra mile” to help their community please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

A 16-year-old boy from Birmingham, who has helped to get more than 80,000 people learning British Sign Language over the last year, has won the ‘Stephen Sutton Inspiration Award’ at the 2021 Pride of Birmingham Awards.

The Pride of Birmingham Awards celebrate the city’s unsung heroes, including those who have come to the fore during the pandemic. One of those unsung heroes is Tyrese Dibba, a Deaf and partially sighted student who has CHARGE Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder which can affect many areas of the body including sight and hearing. Tyrese was star of the ‘Sense Sign School’ that taught tens of thousands of people BSL via video.

The campaign was launched by the disability charity Sense last May and invited the public to sign up for free online classes. The teenager and his family have been supported by Sense since he was six months old and Tyrese has enjoyed among other things going on specialist holidays and family days, all run by Sense. Tyrese also receives one-to-one support from a specialist Sense support worker, who helps with BSL interpretation and other everyday tasks.

‘Sense Sign School’ aimed to break down communication barriers, promote understanding and tackle social isolation amongst disabled people. Loneliness is disproportionately high amongst disabled people, with one in two experiencing it every day.

Sense research also shows that one in four Brits avoid conversation with disabled people because they worry about saying the wrong thing. As part of the awards, Tyrese got to meet Conor Coady, the Wolverhampton Football Team Captain and this year’s awards presenter Kym Marsh.

Tyrese said: “Thank you. I’m happy I won. It was hard work to teach everyone sign but I enjoyed it! I loved meeting Conor Coady as part of the awards and loved showing him some signs, like how to spell his name, his sign name and his shirt number.”

Vicky Dibba, Tyrese’s mother, said: “Ty was really shocked and surprised about winning a Pride of Birmingham Award. As for me, I'm very proud of Tyrese; he made Sense Sign School his own, showing his pride in his language and culture.”

Richard Kramer, Chief Executive of national disability charity Sense, said: “Sense is incredibly proud that Tyrese is being awarded with a Pride of Birmingham award. He’s an inspirational young man who has overcome challenges and got tens of thousands of people learning sign language. It’ll give a lift to Sense staff and the people and families and we can’t think of anyone more deserving of winning this award.

“Hundreds of thousands of people use British Sign Language as their first language, and Tyrese has helped more people take the first step in learning the language, so that we can ensure that less people are left out, and help to tackle loneliness and social isolation amongst disabled people.”

King G Mall Dhol Blasters has been included by World Book of Records Gold Edition as the world's first, oldest and biggest male/female combo Dhol team

Now going for over 30-years, founder and leader of the Birmingham-based outfit, Gurcharan Mall B.E.M., CEO, along with his team, was acknowledged with the world record certificate of inclusion, which was presented by Shri Virendra Sharma, the Labour Member of Parliament for Southall, in England.

Destined to protect, develop and keep the Punjabi culture strong and alive, King G Mall’s The Dhol Blasters (True Roots and Colours of Punjab) take pride in their ethnic music and culture, which they want to share with the rest of t h e w o r l d.

T h e organisation has released more than nine albums, for some they have received Platinum and Gold discs. They have also won many awards. for performances in the UK, America, India, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Norway, Germany, Holland, Italy, Sweden, Switzerland, Spain and Malaysia. Amongst their array of recognitions include the ‘Lifetime Contribution to Music Award’ at The Phoenix Gala Awards and the International Performing Artist “PRIDE of Punjab Award.

On being recognized by honour, King G Mall Dhol Blasters congratulated by Shri Virendra Sharma, Dr Diwakar Sukul (Chair of the World Book of Records, London), Shri Santosh Shukla (President, World Book of Records) and other dignitaries from international scenario.

Wolverhampton Wanderers footballers and a TV personality have joined this year’s search to find exceptional young citizens in Wolverhampton.

Wolves players Leander Dendoncker and Theo Corbeanu have been joined by The Repair Shop presenter Jay Blades to encourage people to put forward nominations for the Wolverhampton Young Citizen of the Year Awards.

Dendoncker and Corbeanu said: “If you know a young person who has helped others during the pandemic or done something in their community, school, college or work place that deserves to be recognised, nominate them for the Wolverhampton Young Citizen of the Year Awards. Anyone can nominate – parents, neighbours, friends and colleagues.”

Jay Blades added: “All together we work better together. We want to hear about young people who are going that extra mile and you know who they are – so get nominating.”

By sending in video messages to show their support to the search, the trio join a host of famous faces who have supported the award in previous years, including soul singer and Honorary Freewoman of Wolverhampton Beverley Knight and Black Country comedian Doreen Tipton.

Organised by the city’s five Rotary clubs, in partnership with the City of Wolverhampton Council, the Express & Star, Wolverhampton Wanderers Foundation and Carvers Building Supplies Ltd, the awards were cancelled in 2020 due to Covid-19.

This year, the age range has been extended to 13-25, with separate 13-18 and 19-25 categories, to encourage people to nominate a young citizen who has gone above and beyond to help others during the coronavirus pandemic.

In previous years, young people have won the award for their work with youth groups, in combatting knife crime and reducing cultural prejudice in their community.

Roger Timbrell, Chair of the Organising Committee, said: “After a year that has been tougher than any other for our city’s young people, many have gone above and beyond to help their families, neighbours, classmates and local communities.

“I want to encourage anybody who knows a young person who has gone the extra mile to help others to nominate them, so that they can be recognised.”

Anyone can nominate a young person who lives, goes to school or works in Wolverhampton.