Spotlight on local heroes in Leeds

By John Fisher, December 23, 2013
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Honours for heroes: David Richmond (far right) presents a lifetime achievement award to some of the Leeds volunteers who fought in Israeli's War of Independence   Photo: John Fisher

Honours for heroes: David Richmond (far right) presents a lifetime achievement award to some of the Leeds volunteers who fought in Israeli's War of Independence Photo: John Fisher

A host of unsung Leeds heroes has been honoured for their dedication and commitment.

Close on 300 guests at Etz Chaim Synagogue for the sixth annual Leeds Jewish Community Arrow Pride Awards ceremony saw a group of Leeds machalnicks (overseas volunteers) who fought in Israel’s War of Independence, honoured with the Richard Goldberg male lifetime achievement award.

Veteran Louis Harris, one of the remaining seven men out of an original contingent of 26, said: “We are truly proud to have played a small part in the establishment of Israel.”

In May 1948, the men attended a Leeds meeting where over 600 mainly ex-service men and women gathered.

“We volunteered our support making the commitment to fight alongside Israelis,” Mr Harris explained.
Leeds Wizo’s Blanche Dugdale, a group that recently bowed out after 65 years’ service, picked up a special lifetime achievement award.

Seven founder members were among the 12 women who attended the event. Pearl Wolfson said: “We started out as young married women with babies — in fact we were known as the ‘stork club’, there were so many nappies in evidence at our meetings.”

Picking up the female lifetime achievement award was Francine Levin, founder of Make a Dream, a charity that fundraises to help disadvantaged and terminally ill children fulfil their dreams.

Sixteen-year-old Oliver Sapier, in and out of hospital with a chronic bowel disorder since the age of six months, scooped the youth personality award.He completed the Big Leeds Bike Ride earlier this year cycling 100km raising £5,000 for Leeds General Infirmary.

Charlotte Newman, 23, diagnosed with cancer in 2011, was presented with female personality of the year award. Ms Newman became the face of Teenage Cancer Trust when she went into remission. “I wanted to give something back for all the help they gave me,” she said.

An outstanding accomplishment award went to volunteers at Donisthorpe Hall who staged a 24-hour 62-mile walk earlier this year, raising £42,000 for the home.

Leeds Jewish Welfare Board president Edward Ziff said: “It is a joy to stand among so many inspirational people.”

Last updated: 10:45am, December 23 2013