Mrs Mackenzie crowned a community hero

RIPON Grammar School PE teacher Helen Mackenzie has been crowned a community hero after beating five other worthy finalists in a Harrogate-wide competition.

Former BBC Look North presenter Harry Gration launched the Harry’s Heroes competition with The Stray Ferret online news site, in search of people doing exceptional things for others.

Mrs Mackenzie, whose Back-to-Basics cookery scheme provides food parcels and recipes for families in need, received the most votes to collect the prize of a trip to London’s Royal Albert Hall.

Throughout the pandemic, she fundraised, shopped, collected donations, and packed and delivered food, along with electrical goods and other items, for disadvantaged families.

She said: “We have got a great community here. The Ripon public have really taken us to their hearts. They know we do deliver; we get the food out there and we make families lives better.”

She is already planning the deliveries she will be making after Christmas: “There is no stopping me,” she said.

More than 20 people were nominated, then narrowed down to a final shortlist of six, for the competition, which was sponsored by Harrogate Spring Water.

Mrs Mackenzie, who switched on Harrogate’s Christmas lights with the other finalists, said everyone was a worthy winner: “It means everything, being nominated and the fact that people have taken time out to vote for us, all six of us.”