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‘Exceptional’ Bramley volunteer scoops top Learning Disability Week award

By Noah Roberts

A Bramley woman has won an award during Learning Disability Week 2024. 

Each year the third week of June is national Learning Disability Week where organisations and charities spend a week celebrating the things people with learning disabilities bring to society.

Various activities hosted by local charities and organisations happened across Leeds on the week starting June 17.  

With live music, entertainment a giant picnic at Temple Newsam and a five-a-side football tournament at University of Leeds’ Weetwood sports park, which included teams from Swarthmore college, Leep1 and People in Action. 

This celebration week ended with the Learning Disability Awards 2024 Gala dinner at Leeds Marriott hotel. This annual event is made possible by Forum Central, who work with over 250 organisations in Leeds within the health and care sector. Forum Central wanted to celebrate and recognise those who work within that sector in Leeds. 

The evening’s event was hosted by Zoe Bawn and Nick Davis.

Zoe is CEO of Aspire, a not-for-profit enterprise that provides support services to adults with learning disabilities including in West Leeds. Nick is a local actor and musician who is well known for organising local events including the Kirkstall festival.

The last award of the evening presented to jubilant applause went to Sapphire Malcolm for her “outstanding contribution award 2024”

Sapphire, 40 from Bramley, currently volunteers for a number of different organisations across Leeds. Including Café Leep, Connect in the North, Leeds teaching hospitals, St Annes and Leep1. 

She also has been working with St James’s Hospital learning disability and autism team to improve services. Sapphire is also pivotal member of the Leep1 five-a-side football team. 

Sapphire is well-known within the community especially as she is a DJ at a monthly club night for people with disabilities hosted by Leep1, where she plays her choice of music which always gets everyone on the dance floor. 

Sapphire enjoys her work at Café Leep a community café located at 26 Roundhay Road, between Leeds city centre and Chapeltown.

The café is a social enterprise that provides training for people with learning disabilities who want to gain an NVQ qualification to work in catering. Sapphire was supported by café Leep to gain her NVQ level two in catering. Sapphire continued to volunteer during lockdown online and studying, gaining more qualifications. 

Sapphire is well-known among her peers due to her smiley presence and is a familiar face to many. She is known for her generous and caring nature and willingness to always be available with a helping hand. 

Sapphire was personally congratulated from many people present that evening including local Labour Bramley and Stanningley ward councillor Kevin Ritchie who thanked Sapphire for her exceptional contributions. 

In attendance was a variety of people representing local not for profit organisations and charities who had been nominated for a variety of awards presented across the evening. Organisations represented included People in Action, Pyramid, The Halo Project, Purple Patch Arts and Café Leep. 

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