25 inspirational Liverpool people whose stories will bring a smile to your face
3 years ago
Liverpool is famous for its football, its music, its buildings and its heritage, but one thing that makes the city what it is, is its people.
Here are 25 Merseysiders whose inspirational stories will bring a smile to your face.
Michael Cullen became known as Speedo Mick when he decided to swim the Channel in his Everton speedos to raise money for a homeless hostel. Mick’s early years were blighted by periods of drug use and homelessness and once he was in a position to do so he wanted to give something back to repay the kindness handed to him during his troubles.
His 78-day trek from Land’s End to John O’Groats at the beginning of this year has raised over half a million pounds and still counting. He’s raised £80k on match days alone by asking fans to donate.
He founded his own charity, The Speedo Mick Foundation helping to support disadvantaged young people through sport, education, poverty, mental health and well being.
Sonia Bassey MBE
Growing up in L8, in her late teens Sonia established herself as a community artist and director of her own business, which she still runs today. Sonia was awarded an MBE in 2017, and works as director of Public Sector Transformation for Cheshire and Warrington. She has also previously served as Chair for the Merseyside Black History Month Group and in 2017 was awarded an MBE for services to the community in Liverpool.
Sonia is the Chair of both the Africa Oyé festival and Mandela8, an organisation to honour Nelson Mandela’s legacy through community outreach and the creation of a permanent memorial in Princes Park.
She is shortlisted for a lifetime achiever award in this year’s National Diversity Awards.
Maggie O’ Carroll – The Women’s Organisation CEO
Maggie co-founded The Women’s Organisation in 1996, to help improve the economic position of women and help them start and grow their own enterprises.
The Women’s Organisation has supported over 60k women and helped kickstart over 4,000 businesses in the Liverpool City Region and Greater Manchester.
In 2017, she was recognized as one of the Spotlight 10 by Women in Social Enterprise 100 and this summer Maggie was appointed visiting Professor at the University of Strathclyde.
Twenty seven year old Jodie’s early career saw her appear in many of the UK soap operas and continuing dramas, as well as film. But it was her role as Villanelle/Oksana Astankova in Killing Eve, the dark comedy-drama which hit our screens in 2018 that made her a household name. Killing Eve has won her many awards including an Emmy and the British Academy Television Award for Best Actress.
In December 2018, British Vogue included Comer in their list of The Most Influential Girls that year and in February 2019 Forbes included her in their annual 30 Under 30 list. She stars opposite Ryan Reynolds in upcoming comedy Free Guy, out in December.
Sir Phil Redmond CBE
Phil Redmond is mostly known for creating ground breaking children’s tv show Grange Hill and bringing Liverpool soap Brookside to our screens in the 1980s, followed by the Chester-based Hollyoaks. For over twenty years he also ran his own independent production company, Mersey Television. Early in October it was announced Phil is to be given a knighthood for services to broadcasting and arts.
He is an Ambassador Fellow at Liverpool John Moores University and is Chair of National Museums Liverpool.
The founder of construction company Redrow and former chairman of Wolverhampton Wanderers, Steve set up the Steve Morgan Foundation almost twenty years ago. He has personally given £300 million to the Foundation, which has supported 650 charities to date and funds many awards. It benefits organisations in Merseyside, North Wales, West Cheshire and North Shropshire which improve life chances of children, families, disadvantaged, elderly, disabled and socially isolated. Merseyside initiatives supported include Maggie’s Centres, the Homebaked bakery in Anfield and Wirra Mencap.
Scouse Bird Steph Bannister
Steph is the original Liverpool social media influencer. She started blogging as Scouse Bird, and writing funny sharp observations of her life as a Liverpool woman. She turned the brand into a business selling Scouse Bird goods then in 2017 opened her first physical shop to accompany her online store’s success. This month the Scouse Bird Shop announced a £1m turnover and sells all your Scouse Bird needs from stationary, cards, jewellery and her very own gin.
Bootle born Andy was badly injured in an improvised explosive device explosion in Afghanistan in 2009, which meant his right leg was amputated the following year. Refusing to let his disability stop him he not only learned to ski, surf and skydive but also won two gold medals and a bronze at the 2014 Invictus Games for injured servicemen and women. Summer 2019 saw him become the world’s fastest single leg amputee, running 10k in 37 minutes and 17 seconds – beating the record by 36 seconds!
Andy also won the Outstanding Achievement Award at the ECHO Awards 2016. He is a motivational speaker, wrote a book You’ll Never Walk and now has the The Leg it Podcast, which you can support via Patreon.
A lifelong community activist, Michelle is Chief Executive of the Kuumba Imani Millennium Centre. The charity and community resource based in Liverpool 8 supports and encourages economic development, regeneration and sustainability across the diverse communities of Liverpool and the region. She also a Trustee of National Museums Liverpool, and Chair of the Advisory Panel set up to advise on how the city’s history and connection with slavery is explained and contextualised for both visitors and residents.
Natalie founded the LEAF Group of companies, based in Liverpool and Wirral, spurred on by a love of quality loose tea. LEAF started as a small tea shop within a gallery in 2007. Natalie’s company has grown to include a number of large multi-purpose venues LEAF on Bold St, LEAF Smithdown. LEAF West Kirby, OH ME OH MY and ONE FINE DAY, each hosting a multitude of public and private events alongside a wide-ranging daily offer of food and drinks.
Former barrister Nisha is founder and CEO of Mowgli Restaurants. The original Mowgli here in Liverpool was a major part of establishing of our city as a destination for foodies. Now with branches across the North of England and the Midlands, Mowgli is all about how Indians eat at home and on their streets, specializing in delicious fresh food. Nisha is a director of the Mowgli Trust, the charitable side of the restaurant that donates over £100,000 to local good causes every year.
James Lee Williams, better known by the stage name The Vivienne, is a drag queen. Named after clothes designer Vivienne Westwood, The Vivienne was appointed the first UK RuPaul’s Drag Race ambassador in 2015 and won the UK series in 2019. An online television series followed, part of the winner’s prize, entitled The Vivienne Takes on Hollywood. The Vivienne started presenting the UK version of I Like to Watch, a web series produced by Netflix. This summer, The Vivienne voiced as Donald Trump in the BBC Three documentary Trump in Tweets.
After working overseas in the travel industry, Angie Redhead returned to Liverpool in 2005 and became Cruise Development Manager for Liverpool City Council. She oversaw the development of the cruise liner terminal situated today on the World Heritage Waterfront.
She became Head of City Assets in 2017, and now responsible for Liverpool City Halls, St Georges Hall and Town Hall as well as Liverpool Tourist Information Centre, in addition to the Cruise Terminal.
In March this year at the start of the pandemic, the council were given a list by the NHS of people shielding and who couldn’t leave their homes. Upon finding many were in desperate need of food .Angie and her team bought and delivered food, making sure that ‘nobody is forgotten and nobody is not taken care of’ and created a food hub for the vulnerable.
Liverpool FC fan Jamie Webster started off singing football chants at matches, travelling all over the world and picking up thousands of fans on the way. He soon began introducing his own songs into his set, and signed to Liverpool label Modern Sky. His debut album We Get By reached number six in the UK Album Chart and next spring once the pandemic has abated, he looks forward to touring the record, including a sold out hometown show at Liverpool Guild.
Katrina Johnston Thompson
Born in Woolton, the heptathlete’s titles and accomplishments are too many to list! She won the gold medal at the 2019 World Championships, breaking the British record. Katrina competed at the 2012 London Olympics and came 14th; four years later she came sixth in Rio. She won the gold medal in the heptathlon at the 2018 Commonwealth Games before winning the silver medal at the European Championships that same year, which moved her into the world all-time Top 25.
Chef Ellis Barrie
Brothers Ellis and Liam Barrie opened their first restaurant on their parent’ caravan site in North Wales when Ellis was just 19 years old. The Barrie Bros’ The Marram Grass on Anglesey was transformed into an Acorn Award-winning restaurant in 2016, with Ellis overseeing the development of the food on the menu. He reached the final of BBC2’s Great British Menu the following year.
The new Lerpwl – Welsh for Liverpool – at the Albert Dock is the latest venture. Lerpwl uses Welsh ingredients but looks outside Wales to compliment the home grown within the restaurant’s menu.
Born in Aigburth, on top of her own musical career Chelcee Grimes has written songs for so many artists from all around the world, including The Saturdays, Kesha, Dua Lipa, Kylie Minogue and our very own Mic Lowry. She released her debut single Just Like That two years ago, its video on YouTube clocked up over 100,000 views within 24 hours.
Chelcee is also a footballer. She started playing for Liverpool Ladies aged 10, then Everton, Tottenham Hotspur, Tranmere Rovers and Fulham, before re-joining Tranmere where she is at present. The talented 28 year old is a presenter of Match of the Day spin-off show, MOTDx
Trent Alexander-Arnold LFC
Trent plays as a right-back for both Liverpool FC and the England national team. As a teenager he was singled out by former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard, who tipped him to have a bright future at the club. Alexander-Arnold had previously taken part in Liverpool’s pre-season tour of the United States, but he made his professional debut four years ago and is now widely regarded as one of the best attacking full-backs in world football.
He volunteers as an ambassador for the Liverpool-based charity An Hour for Others, which supports the underprivileged with food hampers and toys, to cooking and science lessons. He is also an avid chess player.
Peter Reid EFC
The football manager and retired player signed to Everton in 1982. Over a period of seven years, he helped the club win domestic and European honours, including winning the Football League in both 1985 and 1987.
Peter represented England in the FIFA World Cup and UEFA European Championship.
The 64 year old’s managerial career started at Manchester City before he moved on to a number of UK clubs such as Sunderland, England U21s, and Leeds United in addition foreign clubs Thailand and Mumbai City. These days he is a popular pundit and commentator of football.
After spending two decades at Radio City, Lee Butler made the move to another Liverpool radio station this year, one he co-founded! You can listen to In Demand online now, but it launches on DAB in November. The reason for the change, he says, is that our city needs a station with strong local voices and music which connects with properly those across Merseyside and the North West.
Other presenters include Baz Todd, Dave Graham, Liam Hincks, Gemma Cutting, Tiesto, Ste Cocky and our very own Jay Hynd of an evening. Lee is also the founder of Ravin Fit, Reminisce Festival and if you have never seen him on the desks, have you even been out properly in Liverpool? Lee also champions those recovering from dug or alcohol problems after going through recovery himself, you can follow him on twitter to be inspired by Sunday Support each week.
British former professional boxer Anthony Lewis Bellew fought in the ring from 2007 before hanging up his gloves in 2018. An Everton fan, he entered the ring to the theme from Z-Cars! Standing at six foot three, he held the WBC (World Boxing Council) cruiserweight title from 2016 to 2017. Bellew held the British and Commonwealth light-heavyweight titles between 2010 and 2014, the European cruiserweight title from 2015 to 2016.
He also appeared in the 2015 film Creed and is a regular commentator on Sky Sports Boxing.
Chef Dave Crichley
In March this year Dave, the Executive Head Chef at Lu Ban Restaurant founded Liverpool Independent Delivered Services (LIDS). The group of local independent suppliers deliver their goods and products direct to customers across Liverpool.
LIDS was and is, invaluable to those unable to get to shops or simply prefer high quality foods. Dave is also involved in The Knowsley Kitchen, a new collaboration of community organisations, social enterprise and independent business aiming to improve access to fresh food in the area.
If that wasn’t enough, Dave also works with and supports foodbanks!
Matt Farrell & John Ennis
Matt with his friend John Ennis are directors of Liverpool independent bar and restaurant group, Graffiti Spirits Group, which they co-founded in 2009. The Group includes bars and eateries showcasing a wide range of concepts, including Castle St Coffee, Santa Chupitos, El Bandito, Salt Dog Slims and the Duke Street Food and Drink Market – which is set in a 150 year old market.
Matt is a food and travel writer, and is keen to elevate Liverpool to be one of the UK’s top centres of foodie excellence. His podcast In The Weeds encourages conversation on travel, culture, food and drink.
Peter is singer for Liverpool band The Farm since 1983, responsible for hits Groovy Train and All Together Now. He founded The End fanzine in the ‘80s and is a lifetime Liverpool FC supporter, spearheading The Justice Collective to raise money and awareness of charities associated with the Hillsborough football disaster. Peter is currently head of The Beatles Legacy Group which helps Liverpool as a city maximise the potential of the Fab Four’s legacy.
Bubbly Claire Simmo, famous for her upbeat attitude and love of pink, never seems to stop! Simmo is an inspiring presence in our local media and a popular compere at ceremonies, conferences and other local events. She hosts TV and radio – formerly Radio City and Greatest Hits Radio and now on KCC Live, Sandgrounder Radio and can now also be heardon BBC Radio Merseyside – and also stars in panto each year, this December she takes to the stage at The Atkinson.
Claire has won numerous awards for her work. Last year she took home the Kindness trophy at The Positive Awards. She is also a Community Fundraiser for Whiston & St Helens Hospitals Charity.