Oxford Brookes University


Business alumna awarded Tesco magazine Mum of the Year

30 March 2010

Business and Management graduate Maria Angel ‘98 was recently invited to meet with Sarah Brown at Number 10, following her achievement of winning the Tesco magazine Community Mum of the Year award.

Maria was presented with her award at a ceremony last month, after being chosen from a record number of 4,000 nominations by a panel of judges including the Prime Minister’s wife, who is patron of the awards.

The awards recognise the achievements of exceptional mums whose love, dedication, bravery or kindness has touched the lives of the people around them. Maria was nominated in a letter from her family following her dedicated work to create a safe environment for young people in her home village of Normandy, Surrey, a commitment which has improved Maria’s local community as a whole.

Following an increase in youth crime in the village and neighbouring areas, Maria set up the N Factor youth club in the local village Royal British Legion club. The youth club now meets on a weekly basis, providing a safe and secure environment for the local children and young people aged 8-18 years old.

Through her hard work Maria has provided the young people in the area a space to express themselves creatively and in turn allowed them to feel a sense of ownership and pride. “Youngsters in our surrounding rural area can suffer much boredom and isolation,” Maria explains.

“Geographically, they can be split up in terms of where they can go to school, which means that one youngster in one house may go to a completely different school to their friend who lives just down the road. As a result, the youth club may be their only chance to integrate with the other children and not feel so isolated after school and in the holidays.”

Maria also set up the Normandy Day Centre, which launched in January. “Once facilities were set up for the youth club, which did take a very long time to get under way, it became much easier to adapt those facilities so that the older members of our community, who were just as much in need, could also take advantage of them.”

Two High Sheriff Youth Awards and the Surrey Police Local Heroes Award have confirmed the success of Maria’s scheme, having dramatically reduced the boredom-related youth crime developing in the area.

Maria is now Strategic Financial Director for the Normandy Royal British Legion. “I want to help secure funding to ensure continued support for the community, and to develop an essential local community social space around the existing youth club and day centre, where residents who may feel separated from the heart of the community can meet, talk and access services like the CAB Outreach or the mobile library.

“Our collective ambition for the youth group is the Queen’s Award in a few years time, as further validation of its purpose. I also hope that the day centre will eventually be adopted by our local Government and recognised as a much-needed facility for rural community areas."

For the future, Maria’s aim is to take a step into Government: “As a result of my experiences in these community projects, I hope to one day take on some form of representative role within local Government for the Minister of Community Cohesion; either as an aide or representative at local Borough level.”

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