The Local Heroes commission is to document in portrait people who have done something amazing for our town. The selected nominees represent the broad spectrum of Reading’s cultural, social and community life.

Reviewing the nominations were Larry Watson from the Rising Sun Arts Centre, Mary Genis from CultureMix, and Steph Weller, Reading on Thames Festival Producer.

The Local Heroes selected to have their portraits taken by commissioned photographer Salvo Toscano are:

  • Kathryn McCann – for her dedication to the environment and sustainability through her support for various initiatives including Reading Farmers’ Market, Reading Green Drinks and Ethical Reading.
  • Lisa-Marie Gibbs – for her work empowering people to take control and achieve their potential, particularly those facing mental health challenges, those in hospital and care homes, and children with English as a second language.
  • Paul Stacey – for consistently enabling young people to access high quality theatre opportunities, and for Reading Rep’s community based outreach work offering workshops, free tickets and performance opportunities to those who find it hardest to access the arts.
  • Tutu Melaku – for her charitable work, her community spirit, and her unstinting encouragement of others.
  • Victor Koroma and Cecily Mwaniki – joint winners for their work with ACRE, particularly around the issue of FGM, and for their relentless campaigning for equality and fairness.

See the portraits

The full list of those nominated:

  • Alison Foster – for the work she does with Brighter Berkshire to improve local services for mental health support.
  • Andrew Peach – for his ongoing help and support for listeners to his radio programme, both on and off air.
  • Caroline Gratrix – for her work in the community, particularly with Brighter Berkshire.
  • Edible Reading – for their work in promoting independent food traders, and for being an advocate for Reading in general.
  • Glen Dinning – for helping to develop a lively street food and food festival culture in Reading, through Blue Collar.
  • Jennifer Stokes – for her work promoting health and wellbeing, and her passion for local arts and heritage.
  • Jenny Freeman – for taking the initiative and leading the clean up of an area in Earley.
  • Kirsti Wilson – for her work connecting local business with charities and forging relationships that benefit the town.
  • Liz Carroll – for her tireless contributions to Progress theatre, including their youth theatre, and her ongoing support for local charities including Mencap.
  • Louize Clarke – for her not-for-profit co-working space that supports Reading startups and small business, and for her work up-skilling returners to work, apprentices and small business owners.
  • Mark Lawrence – for his work in the local cultural community, and hosting free art exhibitions.
  • Mary Singleton-White – for her community spirit and organising the annual Great Get Together to create an inclusive and friendly neighbourhood.
  • Matthew Foster – for his ongoing dedication to local music culture as chair of the East Reading Festival and Head of Academy for local charity the Rock Academy Foundation, as well as his wider work for ROAM.
  • Pete Doyle – for founding the Rock Academy Foundation to give teenagers a creative outlet.
  • Rachel Eden – for her tireless work as Whitley Ward Labour councillor, her charity work and support of others.
  • Richard Stainthorp – for his many years’ of service to the town’s arts, culture and heritage community, including as a trustee of various charities, and as an active volunteer and champion.
  • Sally Swift – for her commitment to and support of Reading as a town, and her unsurpassed local knowledge.
  • Shit Things In Reading – for bringing people together through their funny, envelope-pushing and self-deprecating look at what goes on in this town.
  • Sinead Gibson – for the campaigning work she does for survivors of sexual abuse.
  • Suzanne Stallard – for her contribution to and impact on Reading made via jelly arts, and for constantly bolstering others with kindness.
  • Terry Dixon – for his work promoting the history of Reading and for his charitable support.
  • The staff of the Adelaide Ward, The Royal Berkshire Hospital – for the care they show to patients and their families.
  • Vernon Orr of St Agnes’ church – for his work as Reverend for Whitley and his ongoing contributions to the wider community
  • Zsuzsi Lindsay – for the Reading Fringe Festival and her other work, which contribute to making Reading a cultural space that will attract more people to the town.