FROM a hula-hooping whizz to a dog warden, a nurse to an architect, and charity workers to frozen yoghurt entrepreneurs, these are Brighton and Hove’s happiness champions.
The Brighton and Hove Happy List is made up of the 28 people who bring the most smiles and cheer to the people of this city everyday.
They are not politicians or millionaires, but ordinary people who go above and beyond the call of duty to put smiles on other people’s faces.
Organised by the Action For Happiness project – the list aims to celebrate.
Happy City representative Joshua French said: “Our focus on money as an indicator of success can be seen in the popularity of rich lists.
“Fame and status are also celebrated in our society as indicators of success. It’s easy to find lists keeping track of the world’s most famous person – Kim Kardashian has the most Instagram followers on the planet, for example – and the most powerful – Vladimir Putin, according to Forbes.
“Again, even though we may aspire to fame and power, there is little evidence that getting more of either would make us any happier.
“This is why Happy Lists are important. They are an alternative way of celebrating success. They recognise people for their kindness, their zest for life and their dedication to helping others. Admittedly, these may be harder variables to measure, but they are certainly worth shining a light on as qualities to aspire to. And unlike fame, riches and power, doing good deeds is scientifically proven to raise our own happiness levels as well as benefitting society.”
Joshua, and his fellow judges – Argus assistant news editor Arron Hendy, Valerie Chisholm from Action for Happiness and Louise Rowe from the Youth Offending Service – have selected people who have set up ping pong tables across the city, helped disabled people visit art galleries, given sleeping bags to homeless people, blogged, sung, taught and put smiles on the faces of shoppers.
Brighton mum and nurse Alice Du Bois, 37, who works at the neonatal unit at the Trevor Mann Children’s hospital looking after premature and sick babies is on the list. She said: “It is nice to be known for something nice and making people happy.”
Fellow champion hula-hoop performer Jo Mondy, 30, from Hove, added: “I’m a happy person and it feels great to make people happy. It’s an absolute honour to be included.”
For more about the happiness champions visit actionforhappiness-inbrighton.org.uk
Maggi Hollands is a dog warden for Brighton and Hove City Council .
She spends her time monitoring dog owners and dealing with dog welfare in the city.
She cares about dogs in general, but also about the people who own them, whether they're homeless, or struggling financially, and she really does her best to promote happy dog ownership.
She doesn't judge people, she just tries to help, and has dealt with much more stress than most people would realise is involved in the job - and still she comes out smiling and positive.
BLOGGER Rehanon Mackenzie was nominated for many reasons - embracing life with gusto, spreading positivity, raising thousands for charity and for her voluntary work.
She also suffered a mental health breakdown five years ago, and rather than keeping this hidden, she blogged as ‘Miss Demeanour’ about it to raise awareness of Mental Health Awareness Week and to support others who might be going through similar experiences.
LYDIA Sinclair set up Brighton in Need last November to gather sleeping bags and warm coats for those who needed them most. After gaining support and seeing the difference it made on the streets, she couldn’t walk away.
She created a charity and most weeks gets out on the streets to deliver supplies to the most vulnerable. More than 300 sleeping bags have gone out since Christmas along with essentials for the rough sleepers’ survival kit.
THOMAS Lavis is head of creative at Lick Yoghurt, which hosts pay-what-you-can yoga classes every Tuesday in their warehouse, and provide a rotating, free, three month residency for newly qualified and aspiring artists from the city.
Record label Lick Music has tracks by local bands played on BBC 6Music. They also support Brighton Peace and Environment Centre – who raise awareness on environmental issues.
JO Mondy moved to Brighton six years ago and set up her hula hooping business instead of “getting a real job.”
Since then she has taught hundreds of people in Brighton and Hove how to hula hoop and reconnect with their inner child.
When she’s not sharing the love at kids’ parties and local events, she helps to run Hoop Jams – free get-togethers to share tricks and knowledge as well as make new friends.
She said: “I think I’m a happy person and it’s nice to know others agree.
“It feels great to make people happy and hula hooping definitely does that.
“It’s not like teaching people maths – people come to hula hoop classes really wanting to learn and have fun.
“When I first started hula hooping my friend was doing it and got me to come along. Then I started doing it more and more.
“And when I moved to Brighton I decided not to get a real job and to hula hoop for a living instead.
“Its an absolute pleasure to be included on the Happy List and to be recognised as a person who makes people happy.”
Jo hopes to spread the happiness further when she marries her fiancée Andy Broughton – who proposed via a hula hoop flash mob – later this summer.
WRITER Tom Bourner has contributed to the happiness of those about him in a variety of ways.
He was a successful teacher and now his research interests include student-community engagement. He is a founder-member of the Action for Happiness in Brighton group and his latest co-authored work, 101 Activities for Happiness Workshops, is an invaluable guide to spreading happiness in a structured fashion.
He wanted to test out some of the activities before publishing so co-ran a day-long workshop, in which all proceeds went to Crisis, helping homeless people.
DUNCAN Baker-Brown is an architecture lecturer at the University of Brighton best known for being behind the Waste House.
Specialising in sustainable design, his work has raised awareness about waste caused by construction and everyday living and shows there is another way to design, build and live. He works with apprentice builders, students and volunteers. Duncan’s collaborative projects inform young people of all ages as to the exciting potentials of sustainable living.
EDWARD Hartfield was diagnosed with various special needs as a young child and had an exceptionally tough early start in life.
Since being adopted, he has made a great life for himself but also helps other people to lead meaningful and happy lives.
He supports young people with special needs at Woodcraft Folk, Amaze, Extratime and other young people’s charities. He also loves dancing. has a ‘can do’ attitude and inspires other people to overcome challenges. Ed is also loves dancing and brings joy to the face of anyone watching him strut his stuff.
ALICE LE VOL
ALICE Le Voi is a dedicated nurse working with premature and sick babies at the Trevor Mann unit at the Royal Sussex County Hospital.
She is an inspiration to know and works hard to ensure parents and families are supported through a naturally difficult time. She was also nominated for having a beautiful spirit and infectious smile and for seeming to be loved by everyone she meets.
She said: “It is nice to be known as a happy person.”
ELLIS AND CAMILLA BERGMAN
ELLIS and Camilla Bergman are among many volunteers who host young people in their homes for Sussex Nightstop, a Brighton charity project for homeless young people.
They were nominated for their kindness, generosity of spirit and for offering many a warm welcome.
Camilla also teaches yoga to people recovering from addictions at the Cascade Creative Recovery Cafe in Baker Street.
AND THE HAPPY PEOPLE ARE
- Duncan Baker-Brown, senior lecturer of architecture
- Layla Tully, artist
- Tim Holtham, founder Brighton Table Tennis Club
- Lydia Sinclair, founder Brighton in Need
- Peter Ferris, site representative Weald Allotment and Gardeners
- Sarah Hutchings, literature curator and artistic director
- Saskia Wesnigk, teacher
- Raksa, customer service assistant
- Dominique Levack, musician
- Tom Bourner, writer
- Rehanon Mackenzie, blogger
- Adam Muirhead, youth work coordinator
- Russell Arnott, teacher
- Cat Fletcher, reuse manager
- David Bramwell, writer
- Thomas Lavis, head of creative at Lick Yoghurt
- Jo Mondy, founder of LiveLoveHoop
- Victoria Jackson-White, sustainable design researcher and lecturer
- Stan Rosenthal, creator of Happy Cafes
- Warren Carter, founder of Moulsecoomb Forest Garden
- Clare Rogers, course coordinator at the University of Sussex
- Alice Le Voi, nurse
- Amy Stevens, president of Brighton Belles WI
- Edward Hartfield, volunteer
- Duncan Blinkhorn, community activist
- Maggi Hollands, dog warden
- Camilla and Ellis Bergman, volunteers