Norwich pair given the chance to make a difference

Two lucky Norwich people are getting paid to work for their chosen charity after winning places on a nationwide programme.

Stephen Henson, 56, and Laura Smith, 22, are two of the 500 people chosen from the 11,000 across the country who jumped at the chance to make a difference.

The winners will spend two months, beginning in March, working for their chosen charity, with their salary and expenses funded by the Vodafone Foundation as part of its World of Difference UK programme.

The foundation pays each charity �2,500 of which the winners get the balance once all tax and national insurances have been paid. The foundation is also giving each charity �250 towards expenses.

Mr Henson, a father of two from Ringland Road, Taverham, will spend his two months working for Sparks for Hearts, an appeal to raise �400,000 for specialist equipment used to cure heart rhythm disorders at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

The self-employed insurance consultant, who is also chairman of Norwich Rugby Club, said: 'I have benefited from several years of treatment at the cardiology unit at the N&N, and I wanted to put something back.

'I saw this opportunity come up, mentioned it to the cardiology team, and completed the application form. I'm really looking forward to it.

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'If it goes well for these two months, I will probably carry on working for the charity afterwards.

'I'm self-employed so in the short-term, getting paid for it means that I can take the best part of two months off, which will help me kick-start the fundraising for the charity and devote more time to it.'

Miss Smith, who lives in the Unthank Road area of Norwich, has chosen to spend two months working for The Alzheimer's Society, based at the Charing Cross Centre in Norwich, an organisation that works to improve the quality of life for people affected by dementia.

She said: 'I am going to set up Life Story Books (LSBs) in Norwich with the Alzheimer's Society, a great project that brings a service to people with dementia in their own home. It's a tool that can be used to initiate conversation and stimulate the brain.'

This is the second year the Vodafone Foundation has delivered a UK World of Difference programme, and 60pc of people who took part last year have stayed connected to their charity, giving the UK's third sector much needed support.

The programme is open to anyone over 18 in the UK who has the passion, drive and commitment to donate themselves to a charity. For further information visit

Have you got a story about a Norwich charity? Call reporter David Bale on 01603 772427 or email

Norfolk teenagers to play their part in society: Page 34