Kingswinford campaigner and fundraiser is dedicated to bringing smiles
It’s all about making children smile for Ceri Davies who dedicates her time to helping to improve the lives of others.
Through her not-for-profit company More Mascots Please CIC, she brings joy to families around the West Midlands and raises money to help disabled and disadvantaged children as well as those with life-limiting illnesses.
“It’s all about that smile that it makes – that’s what I’m all about and what I’ve always been about, putting smiles on children’s faces,” Ceri tells Weekend.
She also campaigns for improved rights for disabled people and uses her experience to work with organisations in the public, private, voluntary and social care sectors.
Now the 33-year-old, who lives in Kingswinford, is in the running for a Positive Role Model Award for Disability at the National Diversity Awards.
Ceri, who was born with cerebral palsy, tethered cord syndrome and scoliosis and uses a wheelchair, has been involved in community work since she was 13 and her first role was being a member of Dudley Youth Council.
She has also been a governor for Birmingham Children’s Hospital and in 2005 was presented with the Diana Award, which was set up to give recognition to young people aged between 12 and 18, who both make outstanding and selfless contributions to their communities.
While studying for a joint honours BA (Hons) degree in Early Childhood Studies and Sociology, she met Prime Minister Gordon Brown in recognition of her charity work.
In 2012, Ceri, who later graduated from Newman University with a Masters in Youth and Community, was chosen to be a torch bearer through the Wolverhampton area for the Olympic Games.
Following the loss of her beloved uncle, Kevin Round, and good friend, Liam Fairhurst, she decided to set up More Mascots Please CIC in their memory.
Ceri says her uncle showed and taught her to be the best that you can be in life while Liam was an inspiration to many after raising £320,000 for Clic Sargent, a charity that supports young people who have cancer, while battling his own fight with the disease.
More Mascots Please CIC provides mascots, princesses and superheroes for character appearances at parties and events.
All money raised goes directly back into the company and is used not only to make a difference to the lives of children and young people, but to also make their wishes become a reality through gifts, funded trips and fun activities.
Ceri has organised many events with party games, face painting, nail art, glitter tattoos as well as fun mascots – and she has also raised funds by holding variety nights, trips, fashion shows and quizzes.
“I’ve raised £63,000 as a volunteer. I’m constantly fundraising,” she says. “If I can raise any more out of it, I will organise it and do it.”
She describes running the CIC as “extremely rewarding”, especially as it has now helped in excess of 1,000 children.
Her valuable work was recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List which led to Ceri being awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to disabled, disadvantaged and life limited children and families in 2020.
She said she was “absolutely shocked, blessed and overjoyed” by the award which she proudly accepted in memory of both her uncle Kevin and friend Liam.
Now she is keeping her fingers crossed for another accolade, the Positive Role Model Award for Disability at the National Diversity Awards.
Ceri was nominated by Nushra Mansuri and Saira-Jayne Jones of Coventry University where she has collaborated on various panels and co-production sessions.
As a lived experience practitioner, she talks to groups, such as trainee social workers and nurses, to give them an insight on what life is like for a person living with a disability and has worked with a number of different universities.
She is also a member of the co-production group at the IMPACT Centre for Improving Adult Care at the University of Birmingham.
The centre, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), part of UK Research and Innovation, and the Health Foundation, is bringing researchers, social care professionals and people who draw on services together to run projects implementing positive change.
It means the views of people who have real-life experience will be used to inform and improve adult social care.
“It’s not just about receiving services, it’s about having a life,” says Ceri, who has been part of an interview panel for IMPACT. “Disabled people deserve the same rights and freedoms as everybody else. Co-production is so important to empower our future leaders and social workers.”
The Positive Role Model Award for Disability is voted for by the public and voting closes on May 15. The winners will be announced on September 15 at Liverpool Anglican Cathedral.
“We strive every single day to make as many children in Dudley and the wider West Midlands smile. We actively encourage empowering communities and creating social change. I’m thrilled to be nominated and thankful to my nominators,” says Ceri.
To vote for Ceri to win the Positive Role Model Award for Disability, visit www.nationaldiversityawards.co.uk/awards-2023/nominations/ceri-davies before voting closes on May 15.