AN eight-year-old girl from Bradfield Southend has been given a Pride of Reading Award for her fundraising efforts.
Ever since her fifth birthday, Grace Dearing has declined birthday presents, asking instead for money to be donated to the homeless support charity Launchpad Reading.
Grace – a pupil at Bradfield Primary School – inherited her public-spirited nature from her late grandfather, Peter Fraser, of Reading Rotary Club, who helped to raise money for Centenary House in Reading when he was president.
Centenary House was a joint Launchpad and Rotary Club initiative to provide homes for vulnerable people in Reading.
Grace’s mother, Kimiko Dearing, who is a Bradfield parish councillor and chairwoman of the Bradfield Primary School PTA, said: “We are all very proud of her.
“I think she was a bit shell-shocked when she was told she had won.
“Her grandad died when she was three months old and when she was five she decided she wanted to carry on in his footsteps.
“I think he’d be very proud of her too.”
Speaking about being handed the coveted 2016 Chris Tarrant Award, presented by the broadcaster himself, at a ceremony at Madejski Stadium, Reading, on Friday, Grace said: “It was a surprise to win.
“I really like to help people and I wanted to carry on doing the job that grandad did.”
For her sixth birthday, Grace asked Sainsbury’s Calcot and Reading to match the birthday money she was donating to Launchpad, and for her seventh birthday she started a baked bean challenge, which raised more than £200 for Launchpad.
She was nominated by Launchpad marketing manager Amanda Rose.
Burghfield’s Olympic diver Chris Mears also had a bus painted gold in recognition of his success in Rio.
Mears, together with his diving partner Jack Laugher, won Great Britain’s first Olympic diving gold medal, with victory in the men’s synchronised 3m springboard.
To mark the achievement, the single-deck bus, unveiled by Reading Buses, will primarily run along the line 2 route, which serves Chris’ home of Burghfield Common.
It will also be available for use on other routes in the town.
The unveiling took place at the Pride of Reading Awards at the Madejski Stadium last Friday, where Mears was a guest.
Reading Buses marketing and communications manager Jake Osman said: “As Chris will not get a golden postbox in Burghfield Common, we thought we could step up and give him something to demonstrate that the people of Burghfield and Reading are proud of his achievements.”
This is the first time that Reading Buses has dedicated a bus to someone in this way, with the bus bearing Mears’ likeness as well as being painted gold.