Greenwich entrepreneur to judge national competition celebrating unsung heroes

By Will Brook

An entrepreneur who champions inclusivity and diversity has been selected as one of the judges for a national competition celebrating unsung community heroes.

Deborah Okenla, pictured above, of Greenwich, founder and chief executive of start-up community Your Start-up, Your Story, has been selected to judge the Census 2021 Community Heroes campaign, which aims to celebrate the work of unsung community heroes.

The campaign will praise 22 – one for each census that has taken place – ordinary people for doing extraordinary things, by commemorating them with a purple plaque that can be permanently installed somewhere meaningful to the winner.

Ms Okenla’s contribution to diversity in the start-up community earned her a spot on the UK’s Top 100 Black and Minority Ethnic Leaders in Technology by the Financial Times.

As well as judging the entries, she is working alongside Census to raise awareness of the competition and encourage people from diverse backgrounds to nominate their local champions.

She said: “I’m super, super excited to take part. We all know that this year has been a rollercoaster.

“It has come with its trials, its tribulations, its trauma, but this (competition) is the exact thing we need.

“It’s an opportunity to really spotlight the individuals that have gone over and beyond to serve their community, whether that’s through marching for Black Lives Matter, creating facemasks for the NHS, or whether it’s teachers going back into school and figuring out how to provide the best education for the most underserved individuals.

“It’s an opportunity to say: we see you, we support you, and we are so proud of you.”

Star of television show Gavin and Stacey, Joanna Page, is fronting the campaign and will lead the judges.

Nominations close on December 31, and plaques will be installed ahead of census day on March 21.

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