Inspirational Iris: Community Champion

Published: 8 January 2020

Community-minded Iris Wallace has landed a £250 Nottingham Building Society Innovative Young People of 2020 winner’s prize.

The Year 7’s inspirational volunteering since moving to the area just over a year ago with her family won the prize.

Iris works several hours a week at the Bulwell Forest Garden charity, undertaking tasks such as litter picking, making bird feeders and growing fruit and vegetables.

She also volunteers at Bestwood & Bulwell Food Bank, helping with jobs such as putting together vital food parcels.

She cooked more than 250 hot meals with her mums Kelly and Shelly over a two-week period recently which were handed out to families in need. 

The 11-year-old’s outstanding commitment to helping the vulnerable and in need led to a unanimous selection by The Nottingham’s judges in the 10-13 age category and she was awarded a £250 tech voucher.

A delighted Iris said: “I was surprised but very happy to hear I had become one of The Nottingham’s Innovative Young People of 2020.

“It is nice to be recognised in this way but the main reason I continue to do as much volunteering as I can in my spare time is to help people who most need it in the community where I live.”

Bulwell Forest Garden community gardener and Foodbank trustee Adele Brooksbank saw the The Nottingham’s award scheme – established to shine a light on examples of those aged 10-21 who have found inspiring ways of furthering their education or boosting career aspirations – and decided to nominate Iris.

An extract of Adele’s nomination read: “Iris has become a young ambassador for the garden. Without her input, the garden wouldn’t have come up with ways to further our project.

“I nominated her not just because Iris has helped us as a project, but because she has overcome her own shyness and has further strengthened her own ability to learn and continues to look for new ways of learning and gathering information.

“If all this wasn’t enough, she has begun to help out at our local food bank at which I’m a trustee.

“Iris is a remarkable young lady who deserves this recognition for all the work she has so far achieved and continues to achieve.”

Principal Mrs Strong said: “Congratulations to Iris on this wonderful community award.

“We’re incredibly proud of her achievements with the Bulwell Forest Garden and see her named a Nottingham Building Society Innovative Young People of 2020 winner.

“Iris is one of the many inspirational students at The Bulwell Academy and it’s terrific to hear about their community efforts.”

The Nottingham’s Head of People and Development, Anne Leivers, added: “We received many inspirational nominations which made some very difficult decisions for the judging panel, but we are satisfied that the winners are thoroughly deserving of their awards and we hope the prizes can play a role in helping them fulfil their ambitions.”

Innovative Young People of 2020 awards were also presented to winners in the 14-17 and 18-21 age categories – click here to read more.