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Weekly Edition - Publication date:- 2017-01-28

-en Southport & Mersey Reporter

Local News Report  - Mobile Page


Denise Fergus receives a national award for charity set up in son's name

A Merseyside woman who found the courage and strength to set up a charity to help others in memory of her murdered son has been recognised with a national honour. Denise Fergus, of Kirkby, has been given a British Citizen Award for her services to the community.

The British Citizen Awards (BCAs) was launched in January 2015, to recognise exceptional individuals who work tirelessly and selflessly to make a positive impact on society. BCAs are awarded twice annually, and recognise 'everyday' people whose achievements may otherwise by overlooked.

In February 1993, Denise lost her son, James Bulger, at the tender age of just 2, in a heinous murder that shocked the world.

Denise not only had to come to terms with the tragic loss of James, but she also had to endure 1 of the most high profile Court cases that Britain has ever seen that attracted press attention from around the world. In the years that followed, Denise has battled hard to fight for justice for her little boy and to bring about changes in the criminal justice system to help other victims of crime.

The case against James' killers helped change the way the law looks at and treats victims, and it was this experience that made Denise wants to help other families who had gone through similar situations.

After everything that her family had gone through, Denise also decided she wanted people to think about James in a positive way, instead of just remembering him for what happened on that fateful day.

Somehow finding the strength to turn a negative into a positive, and with the help of her husband, Stuart, Denise set up the James Bulger Memorial Trust, For James, in 2010. It was officially launched in 2011; the year James would have celebrated his 21st birthday. The charity offers support to children and their families who have suffered bereavement, been a victim of race or hate crime or bullying, and those who have done a good deed within their school or community.

To date, For James has helped more than 700 people from 125 families with free holidays and respite breaks. It has also organised a free community fun day in Stanley Park, Liverpool, for the last 2 years. Kids Fest, which has been attended by 14,000 people over the past 2 years, not only allows families to have a low cost day out, but also brings members of the community together that might not otherwise mix.

Denise was one of 29 medallists, who were honoured at a prestigious ceremony, on 26 January 2017, at the Palace of Westminster.

All BCA recipients have positively impacted society undertaking various activities in support of a number of causes. Each received a Medal of Honour, inscribed with the words 'For the Good of the Country.' Medallists are also invited to use the initials BCA after their name.

The awards ceremony was presented by TV presenter, and BCA Patron, Bradley Walsh, who also hosted the post event drinks reception at Church House Conference Centre.

Denise said the award was totally unexpected, adding:- "Stuart didn't tell me that he had put me forward for the award so it was a complete surprise. I feel totally honoured and overwhelmed by it, it's really not something I expected. I started the charity because it just felt the right time to do it and I didn't want James to be remembered as the child that was murdered. I'm always setting myself targets and we initially had a 5 year plan for the charity which would allow families in need to take a holiday. We achieved what we set out to do within the 1st 6 months, it was really amazing."

Denise, who has 3 sons aged:- 23, 18 and 17, said the charity had become a real family project. "The charity has been a lot of hard work at times, but I have got a great deal of satisfaction from being able to help children and their families, I absolutely love it. My 3 lads are all involved too now they are old enough. I always make sure they are happy with everything before we do something and like to involve them."

Speaking about her fight for justice for James, Denise said:- "It's been a real rollercoaster ride, but I vowed to do anything to find justice. I'm James' voice now, the only voice he has. When I said I would take on the fight, I was told that it would be one long, hard battle. I said that he's my son and I vowed I would do anything that there was to be done. I've done the best I could have done to get justice. I've love to say a massive thanks to all the people who have helped the charity over the years. Without their support and donations, we couldn't have done any of it."

The awards are in partnership with customer experience management company, In Moment, and are supported by the world's largest optical retailer, Specsavers; 1 of the largest property and leisure management, development and regeneration companies in the UK, Places for People; leading ethical law firm Irwin Mitchell; the UK and Europe's leading palletised freight distribution company, Pall-Ex, owned by BCAs Patron Hilary Devey; and specialist marketing, PR and communications agency, Lime Marketing; who each had representatives at the assessment day and presented the awards.

National law firm Irwin Mitchell is proudly sponsoring the awards and Alison Eddy, London Managing Partner at the firm, presented Denise with her award at the ceremony. She said:- "The grief a parent feels when they lose a child is unbearable, but the horrific way in which Denise's son James died shocked the world. Despite suffering from a sudden and terrible loss, Denise fought courageously for James in Court and the result of the landmark case was the catalyst for the introduction of the Victim Impact Statement. Setting up the James Bulger Memorial Trust took a huge toll on Denise, but she was determined to be positive and not let the nature of his death define him. Since 2011, 125 families have been helped by the Trust which supports young people who are disadvantaged by being the victims of crime, hatred or bullying. Sadly, we see parents whose lives effectively end the day their child dies because the pain is simply too much to overcome. To see the amazing work Denise has done is remarkable given everything her family has been through and she is truly inspirational."

Denise was nominated for a BCA by her husband, Stuart Fergus, who said:- "Over the years I have been by her side and have seen everything that she has been through and overcome. It's nice for her to receive recognition for doing something in James' memory after all the hard work she has put in. She also deserves the award for her bravery in fighting for justice, not only for her son, but also for other people."

For James is currently fundraising to purchase a new accessible holiday lodge to ensure that families with children and adults in wheelchairs can also benefit from its help.  It is currently halfway towards its £200,000 goal. For more information or to donate to the appeal, visit:- ForJames.Org.

The awards have attracted support from several high profile patrons, including Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, Specsavers co-founder, Dame Mary Perkins, Pall-Ex CEO, Hilary Devey and TV presenter, Bradley Walsh.  

Nominations are being accepted for the July 2017 presentations. To request a nomination form please send an email  or submit a request via an online form, that must be submit completed nominations forms before the 7 April 2017.


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