In her work as a teacher Danuta Petrie has helped countless young children.

And even after retirement she is still having an impact by helping to establish and run Bradford Baby Bank.

The charity supports vulnerable young families, providing essential items to babies and children under five.

Now her work has been recognised with a Community Stars award.

Danuta has received the Outstanding Contribution to the Earliest Years of Life Award, in recognition of what she has done and is still doing.

The grandmother of five, who retired in 2014, said: “It was a really nice surprise. I’ve worked in early years for most of my teaching life and then moved into volunteering for Bradford Baby Bank. To suddenly get an award in retirement feels very special.”

Born and bred in Bingley, Danuta worked at St Joseph’s Primary School and at Miriam Lord Primary School, in Manningham.

“Then I moved into special needs,” she said.

“I worked as a pre-5 specialist teacher, supporting children and families, from birth to five. And I loved it because not only were you working with the child, you were supporting the family, you were working with medics, physios and speech therapists and the paediatricians. It really was a holistic approach to supporting the child.”

Now she is devoted to working as a volunteer for Bradford Baby Bank, and she feels the charity will benefit from the award.

“We’ve been acknowledged and I feel excited about how Bradford Baby Bank can gain from the award, and where we can take it and how we use it.”

“It gives you that little bit more status,” she said.

“You can say we are being recognised by the local authority as a charity that is fulfilling  a need in society at the moment.”

She said the Baby Bank collects donations including clothes, equipment, pushchairs, and buggies. 

“We work on a referral basis, so midwives, health visitors, Bradford Doulas, Better Start. Lots of different family support groups can do a referral to us about the family and we then gather whatever has been requested, which might be clothes say for a six-month baby, plus other equipment that they need. It might be a steriliser, it might be bottles, it might be a pushchair.”

She added: “We are getting 30 plus referrals a week - which is phenomenal. When we started in 2017 we got five a week. 

“And the cases become more needy, that’s the sad part that the need is greater. It’s not the exceptional referral that is needy, a lot of them are very needy.”

The charity is looking for funding sources and is also looking for volunteers. 

“They can work whatever hours they want,” Danuta said.

“They don’t have to come and do it every week. We need volunteers at base to sort the clothes, to put them away, and volunteers who are happy to drive.”

Anyone who is interested can get in touch through the charity’s Facebook page.

The other finalists for the award were Michaela Duffy and West Yorkshire Scouts - Bradford Squirrels.

Community Stars Awards winners

You can find out about this year's winners by clicking each award category below.