Three London-based ‘community heroes’ named as finalists in national competition


Deepa Chauhan from Burnt Oak Food Bank; Hana Williams, a Trainee Pediatric Oncology Nurse at Great Ormond Street; and Steven Stuart, Founder of London Homeless and Friends of Essex, are all in the running to win a £1,000 fuel voucher prize.

Three London-based ‘community heroes’ have been named as finalists in a national competition that is being run by Big Motoring World.
Last month, Brits were encouraged by the UK top ten car dealer to nominate either deserving key workers or other ‘heroes’ who go above and beyond in their local area, to receive a £1,000 or £500 fuel voucher.
The giveaway idea was inspired by Big Motoring World’s group CEO, Peter Waddell, who was sleeping rough on the streets for many years before building the brand over more than three decades. His first-hand experience of how difficult life can be has led him to recognise the importance of giving back and helping others when possible.

More than 200 nominations were received during July and whittled down to five particularly deserving candidates, three of whom are based in or around London.

Deepa Chauhan from Burnt Oak Food Bank in North London (near Edgware) has been feeding the homeless for ten years. She used to distribute whatever food provisions she could get hold of from the boot of her car, but when Covid hit, she immersed herself even further into her charity work after being inundated with calls and messages from people in need.

In March 2021 she set up a pilot food bank in Burnt Oak, which she describes as ‘an area with high levels of deprivation’. A year and five months later, just over 30,000 people have benefitted from Burnt Oak Community Food Bank.

Deepa said: “We feed all age groups, the young, elderly, homeless, refugees, and every nationality, anyone who is in need food in the community.

What I’ve done, anyone can do and it’s a concept that can be set up easily. We don’t judge, we’re just here to offer as much fresh food, personal hygiene items and day-to-day necessities as we can.

Just because someone’s going through hardship doesn’t mean they should have to rely on baked beans and other tinned items – at Burnt Oak Community Food Bank they get to select what they want; they get their dignity back and get to choose what they’re eating.

Financially, it would be huge to win this fuel voucher because it’d give me money to put aside for the van hire/fuel and any other food provisions which need topping up, to ensure there is enough to go round everyone who is depending on us.

We would also probably be able to increase what we’re able to do as well. With the energy crisis coming up, the elderly are going to depend on us even more this winter. It would allow us to stretch the money further and reach even more vulnerable people.”

Hana Williams is another of the finalists. She is a trainee pediatric oncology nurse at Great Ormond Street. She started nursing training after her mum was diagnosed with cancer.

She was excited to spend her first year of university living with her best friend Sarah, but she was left devastated when Sarah took her own life only six weeks into the academic year. She said that her ‘heart was broken’.

Following this, she channelled all her energy into her placement in children’s oncology where she knew immediately, she belonged.

Her mum was very unwell for much of her time at university, and Hana and her boyfriend decided to sign up for Macmillan’s mighty hike which is made up of 26-miles of uneven, rocky terrain! Their put their heart and souls into raising £1,126.

Talking about her work, she said: “There is no greater job in the whole world! I believe we must do something that is worth getting out of bed for. Being tired, financial struggles, our own problems, they don’t matter anymore. Those children need me, depend on me, rely on me.”

She added that: “Winning this fuel voucher would be pretty lifechanging! I wish I could say I would use it for a huge grand adventure, but student nurses don’t get paid, and so I have to pay for all my travel myself. I would use the vouchers to get to work, to see my mum, and to see my friends who have been my therapy through these difficult years”

Steven Stuart is the Founder of charities ‘Friends of Essex’ and ‘London Homeless’ and is the third finalist who supports communities in and around London.

He used to be a motor trade salesman but was inspired to quit his job and register his charity in 2018, after getting involved in giving out blankets and sleeping bags to the homeless in London and helping at a soup kitchen. He said the experience made him and his family realise that being homeless could ‘happen to anyone’.

Discussing the prize, he added: “The fuel voucher would be really helpful to us. We’ve got two vans, one of them is a real workhorse that is constantly running day and night, and the other one is not used quite as much. Last week both of them needed fuel on the same day, and we’re filling two 90 litre tanks so it’s a lot. You fill both of them up back-to-back and its hundreds of pounds, it’s almost unbelievable. It just brings it home to you how much the costs have gone up.”

The other competition finalists are:
Francesca Lennon, a former Pediatric Nurse and now Hospice Worker from Buckinghamshire
Danielle Mceachern, a Pediatric Nurse from Peterborough
Voting has opened to allow the nation to choose a worthy winner who will be awarded the main prize of a £1,000 fuel voucher. A runner-up (with the second highest number of votes) will win a £500 fuel voucher.
Voting closes on Monday 15th August, and the winner and runner-up will be unveiled on Wednesday 17th August.

Darren Miller, Marketing Director at Big Motoring World explained: “We’re excited to arrive at the business end of this giveaway, and scanning the list of finalists, it was clear to us that any one of them would be a very worthy winner.
“We were so pleased to see so many Brits engaging with this competition and nominating their everyday heroes who they believe deserve a financial boost during these hard times. The people included in our shortlist have proved themselves to be very selfless, and we can’t wait to give two of them this extra helping hand and much needed ‘thank you’.
“Make sure to cast your vote before the competition closes – your ballot really could make all the difference.”
To cast your vote or find out more about the finalists’ stories, please visit: