Walsall`s Madeleine Holland, whilst battling Leukemia, regularly volunteers at food banks and tutors young people from deprived areas free of charge.
"My son died at 24 from a brain haemorrhage" said Madeleine "and his name was Martin and he was a great lad and musician. He loved playing sports and also did the best impressions at his school. I believe God took him for a reason. That`s why I help young people. I have volunteered all my life because there is always something that needs doing and if I can help I will do it."
It is this heart-breaking tragedy that tore Madeleine`s life apart that spurred her on to do charity work. Madeleine pledged her life to helping everyone in memory of her son.
"It`s in my nature" said Madeleine. "I help youngsters with the 11+ and I don`t take any money for it. If the students are prepared to work hard I`ll do it. My optometrist was one of my star pupils and a tearaway but I kept him at his studies. He now owns his own practice. I had a cleaner who came from Syria 6 years ago and had a terrible time getting here. I coached her son who was 5 while she cleaned I would teach him. Now he speaks with a Donegal accent. When he reads in assembly the teacher says "I can hear you in there Mrs Holland". Now he has a place at Aston Grammer School."
Madeleine Holland grew up in Donegal in Ireland before coming to Walsall with her family. After gaining a scholarship to a private convent school she was inspired by the students` hard work ethic to achieve their dreams.
"A lot of Asian families come to me for help" she said "and I don`t take any money from them but they do make me a nice curry like some tu8bs of dhal. I was in hospital and they came in with tins with rice and chicken curry. How lovely is that?"
Madeleine Holland`s charitable work has earned her awards from the Queen Consort Camilla Parker-Bowles and 2 visits to Buckingham Palace where she met the late Queen Elizabeth II.
"You get people from all walks of life coming to the foodbank" explained Madeleine. We often don`t realise how hard it is for people. They have young children but they are so grateful. Sometimes they get dressed up to come for tea and coffee as they don`t get out much. I have Leukemia so I can`t do as much heavy lifting. I was diagnosed just before Christmas which was a shock to me. I didn`t think somebody aged 80 would get it. Every day is a bonus, isn`t it? I will plod away".
The BBC Radio WM Make A Difference Awards 2023 honour local individuals who go the extra mile for their community. Judges included Paralympic swimmer Ellie Simmonds, celebrity chef Glynn Purnell and BBC Radio 2 and The One Show`s Richie Andreson.
"I met everyone" said Madeleine "and it was so lovely. I took the award to the food bank and they were delighted for me."
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