The winners of the Friends Families and Travellers Awards 2022 were announced on Wednesday, 16th February at the Embassy of Ireland, London.
The evening was a meaningful celebration of the amazing and awe-inspiring achievements of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller individuals and communities. It involved lots of chatter, excitement and Guinness, of course! We’re grateful to the Embassy of Ireland for letting us host the awards in their wonderful space.
Those that were shortlisted (you can see the list here) were inspiring in their hard work towards enriching the lives of their own communities and wider society.
As the evening showed, every nomination was worthy of a win and it could not have been harder to pick just one per category.
All of us at FFT are filled with pride for every single person that took part in the Friends, Families and Travellers Awards 2022, from the winners, to the nominees, to the attendees. The event could not have happened were it not for each and every one of you!
These are the winners:
Inspirational Young Person Award
Winner: Josie Welsh
Becoming a community health champion, creating awareness campaigns and meeting with key council personnel to represent Gypsy and Traveller communities are just a few things Josie has done to help local site residents in Bradford. At just 16, Josie has been a key advocate for local voices on various occasions and has made a positive impact on long-standing issues, such as meeting with Bradford’s Hate Crime Alliance to incorporate more actions to tackle hate crime. Josie continues to go from strength to strength in her actions and working to improve the lives of Gypsy and Traveller people.
Runners up: Olivia Birmingham and Nathan Abdul Karim
Using education as a platform to change perceptions of Showmen and support policy change, Future4Fairgrounds have worked and continue to work with the Government, the Office for National Statistics and educational representatives. They have so far gifted over 2000 copies of ‘The Show Must Go On’ by Richard O’Neill and Michelle Russell to over 400 schools throughout the UK, and founded the first ever World Funfair Month in September 2021. Future4Fairgrounds inspirationally use education to celebrate Showman history, highlight the present realities of what it means to be part of the Showman community, and to protect the future of Showmen and fairgrounds.
Runners up: William Jones and Chrissie Browne
Sporting Excellence Award
Winner: John Edwards
Giving his own personal money to help children and adults in boxing, as well as hundreds of hours supporting young people in the sport, John brings a wealth of positivity to Travelling families in his local area of Guildford. John is described as a true leader and rallies communities through the sport of boxing. Having previously been awarded the Paul Harris Fellowship for ‘Service above Self’ for his work in not only working with elite boxers, John has also helped and continues to help children with their self-confidence and demonstrating to them the importance of correct health and wellbeing.
Runners up: Tom-Tom Hendry and Keith Dighton
Inspirational Project Award
Helping to hold an open discussion about mental health and break stigma, the Showmen’s Mental Health Awareness Charity project came together to advocate in efforts to tackle the high rates of suicide in the Showmen community. Providing therapy for Showmen and creating mental health resources, the Showmen’s Mental Health Awareness project is an entirely community-led group. With an unparalleled degree of authenticity, the Showmen’s Mental Health Awareness Charity has taken the ever-difficult first step towards a better future.
Arts, Culture and Heritage Award
Winner: David G Pullar
David G Pullar is a professional horticulturist based in Montrose, Scotland, and is chairperson at Heart of the Travellers. Since his early teens David embraced his Traveller heritage, actively sharing his culture with the wider community. David continues to break down barriers with a gentle and sympathetic approach, and in 2019 published ‘Wee Bessie’, a children’s picture book dedicated to the memory of his great-grandmother Betsy Whyte. ‘Wee Bessie’ received national coverage and has played a big part in allowing children across Scotland to engage in dialogue about a culture which is so often misunderstood.
Runners up: Róbert Czibi and Elijah Vardo
Alexander Award for Lifetime Achievement:
Winner: Josie O’Driscoll
Beginning as a community activist many (not THAT many!) years ago, Irish Traveller Josie O’Driscoll has campaigned tirelessly and demonstrated a commitment to eliminate the discrimination and disadvantages facing Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people today. From previously volunteering at Traveller Movement to being Chief Officer at GATE Herts, Josie is a role model to many and has even supported young people through her commitment to the Dihk ne ha Bister project. Improving the lives of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people has always been at the core of Josie’s work; a testament to Josie’s selfless vim and vigour.
Runners up: Joe Jones and Martin McDonagh
Notes for Editor
About Friends, Families and Travellers (FFT)
Friends, Families and Travellers is a leading national charity that works to end racism and discrimination against Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people and to protect the right to pursue a nomadic way of life.
Sami McLaren, Senior Communications and Campaigns Officer
Email: [email protected]
‘Friends Families and Travellers Awards 2022: Here’s the Shortlist!’. Friends, Families and Travellers. January 2022. View page.