Citizens' Award Winners 2003
At the age of ten, Mike Brace, born in Hackney, North London, was blinded by a firework. With consummate courage and resolve, Mike in due course gained entry to the University of North London to qualify as a social worker. He worked in Tower Hamlets, Hackney and Islington, and then as Services Manager for Children's Services in Kensington & Chelsea.
In October 2001 he was appointed the Development Director of Vision 20-20 UK whose task is to co-ordinate the work of voluntary bodies and statutory services involved with visual impairment. Aside from his inspirational work, Mike Brace has won 12 national titles for race walking for the blind from 1978-90, has twice completed the London Marathon, and has five times represented Great Britain for para skiing.
A fracas took place in the town centre of Woking, Surrey on 4th September 2001. Two Surrey Police Officers were attacked by a group of five aggressive males, two of whom were being arrested, and one of which was a suspected drug user. Members of the public stood by and watched. One person, however, George Fortescue, 69, left his car and went straight to the assistance of the struggling officers until other police units arrived. Two men were later convicted. Mr Fortescue had been under medical orders to rest before a triple bypass operation due later that month.
Mohammed Ashraf Khan
On 22nd June 2002 the Blaydon Discount Centre in Northumberland was viciously attacked by three robbers armed with a machete and a bottle of ammonia. The CCTV system installed in the shop recorded in colour with audio the valiance of the store owner, Mohammed Ashraf Khan of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. With only a piece of wood with which to defend himself and his property, Mr Kahn, though blinded by the ammonia thrown in his face, forced the offenders to retreat from the scene. He phoned the police and was able to be interviewed before being taken to hospital. It was his public-spirited action which led to the conviction of all three offenders.
Mrs Lesley Pulman
Mrs Lesley Pulman of New Moston, Greater Manchester, has been a resident of 40 years' standing in her council estate. She is vigorously active in community work. Large gangs of 20 or more youths took to outdoor drinking and rowdy conduct in her street. After a racial attack, due to her good relationship with Community Police Officers, Mrs Pulman was identified by this gang as a 'grass'. Her car was damaged three times in 2002 and she was threatened with having her, and her husband Robert's house burnt down if she would not 'keep her nose out' or the gang's business. She was even threatened with rape.
Due to her courage and assistance, the police have been able to serve three Antisocial Behaviour Orders, known as ASBOs, with another two planned. Life for ordinary residents on her estate has improved recently. Mrs Pulman is an MS sufferer.
David Young (awarded posthumously)
In August 2002, following an argument between four teenage girls on the bank of the River Don, South Yorkshire, one of the girls was pushed and fell backwards into the river. Amid much screaming and cries for help from the girl, now drifting down the river, David Young, 26, who was passing by, jumped into the river to try to save her life. Though not a strong swimmer, he managed to reach her 15 feet from the river bank. By swimming underneath her, she received just sufficient support to grasp a stick held out by a fisherman who then hauled her ashore. Pushed down by the weight of the girl, David Young sank beneath the surface and was drowned. Such systems that might exist for the Crown to recognise officially such selfless courage, fortitude and determination have not, in this case, functioned and after 14 months no posthumous award has been made.