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King's Lynn volunteer Steven Russell to pick up British Citizen Award at the Palace of Westminster for supporting children in India

Steven Russell from Lynn is one of only 25 individuals to be recognised at the Palace of Westminster with the prestigious British Citizen Award (BCA).

The BCA, in partnership with One Stop, is now in its eighth year and recognises exceptional individuals who positively impact their communities, charities, and individual causes.

Originally from Bournemouth, he moved to the area in the 1970s for RAF work and will be honoured on July 7 with the BCA for International Achievement in London and will receive the coveted Medal of Honour. As a result, he will be invited to use the title, BCAo.

Steven Russell from Lynn: British Citizen Award, Bethesda Children’s Trust.
Steven Russell from Lynn: British Citizen Award, Bethesda Children’s Trust.

"I'm quite proud of it, I've made a difference," he told the Lynn News. "A passion turned into an obsession."

Alongside working full-time in for the county council, for the past 24 years Steven has worked passionately fundraising and developing links with UK supporters to support The Bethesda Children’s Trust in Southern India.

This is a registered charity that takes in abandoned children and those that are at risk in their homes or communities. People from around the world can sponsor a child and support their daily living, education and welfare. Since 1997 Steven has raised more than £120,000 for the charity and all the funds raised have gone directly to benefit the children in India.

Travelling to India more than 20 times, Steven has physically supported the orphanage staff and shown great commitment during the creation of four homes. Steven has helped bridge the gap between the local social services departments and ensured each new home is compliant with legislation and safe.

Steven’s involvement with the Bethesda Children’s Trust continues via Zoom meetings – visa problems currently prevent travelling – with children, staff officials and church pastors. He has helped establish solid links with about 14 churches in the area and over 1,000 children have had a positive impact in their lives.

Some 24 years ago he was known to a few people in Tamil Nadu, today, he is known by thousands and is known to many as ‘Steve Uncle’.

Despite suffering a life-changing accident to his spine whilst in India, this has not deterred the 66-year-old from continuing to support this charity and is determined, despite the constant daily pain and mobility issues he has, to continue to supply the needs of those less fortunate than himself

“This year’s medallists have reminded us of how many amazing people are supporting our communities, especially during these challenging times. At One Stop we serve many communities across the country, and we know how important voluntary work is,” said Jonny McQuarrie, from BCA partner One Stop.

The medal presentation will be hosted by TV news presenter Naga Munchetty, and attended by BCA Patron Dame Mary Perkins, founder of Specsavers, and The Rt Hon, Lord Dholakia. The BCA was established in 2015 to recognise exceptional individuals who work tirelessly and selflessly to make a positive impact on their communities and society, who would otherwise likely be overlooked.

Dubbed ‘The People’s Honours’, each medallist has a day to remember befitting their achievements. At the Palace of Westminster medals will be presented by senior representatives from official partner One Stop, Places for People, Specsavers, Objective HR and Experian. Following this, medallists are treated to an open top lap of honour tour around central London, before attending a reception at Church House.

The British Citizen Award is widely viewed as the nation’s way of recognising extraordinary, everyday people for exceptional endeavor and are truly representative of today’s multicultural Britain.

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