Awards showcase achievements of people with learning disabilities in Hertfordshire

Published: 05 Apr 2019

Thunderous applause erupted when fun-loving Josh Mardell was crowned Hertfordshire’s Learning Disability Personality of the Year at a ceremony celebrating the achievements and personalities of people with learning disabilities and differences.

The annual Rumble Awards recognise the positive influence that people with learning disabilities and differences have on all our lives in Hertfordshire by showcasing their achievements, personalities and experiences.

They are created, hosted and organised by the Pioneer Spirits, who themselves have learning disabilities, as part of a project run by Pioneer Approaches.

This year the celebratory evening was designed around the theme of ‘Under the Sea – Saving the Sea’ and included a performance. Decorations for the awards were all created using recycled materials. Learning disability services and individuals across Hertfordshire also made art from recycled materials that was displayed on the night.

Full of joyful enthusiasm, Josh dashed onto the stage with his arms raised when he was named overall winner at the event held at Hertfordshire Development Centre in Stevenage on 3 April. Josh, from near Braughing in East Hertfordshire, attends a local community gardening project where he works on an allotment. Mudlarks told us “Josh is a friendly young man, full of mischievous fun”.

His nomination form says: “Josh is a fun-loving, kind-hearted, hardworking young man. He makes everyone’s day a happy one. If you’re feeling down or the weather is wet, he will also find something funny to say or do to brighten your day.”

The awards event is supported by Hertfordshire’s Learning Disability Partnership Board, which includes people with learning disabilities, family carers and representatives from Hertfordshire County Council, the NHS and local community and voluntary organisations.

The Rumble Awards were launched in 2011, in honour of the late Keith Rumble, who was known for his love of life, happy nature and enthusiasm. Keith was one of the founder members of the Pioneer Spirits, who create performances that deliver key messages about learning disabilities and differences. When he died, the Pioneer Spirits decided to launch the Rumble Awards to celebrate individuals who, like Keith, deserve an award for exceeding all expectations and enhancing the lives of others.

Iain MacBeath, Director of Adult Care Services at Hertfordshire County Council, said: “I am extremely honoured to be part of The Rumble Awards which provide a fantastic platform for people with learning disabilities to share their achievements and experiences. It has been a truly enjoyable event and the organisers have done a wonderful job running the awards and entertaining the guests.

“We want to build an inclusive county in Hertfordshire where everyone has the opportunity to be recognised as valued members of the local community. These awards highlight the amazing contribution that people with learning disabilities are making, providing inspiration for us all.” 

The winners of the Rumble Awards are listed by category below.

The Brave Heart Award for people who have overcome challenges and/or difficulties:
Debbie Maryon, Tom Miller, Stephen Phypers, Annette Whitten.

The Good Spirit Award for people who are fun to be around:
Nicholas Hamilton-Follett, Samantha Hulley, Josh Mardell, Monica Sandiford, Beth Shepheard, Kerry Tree.

The Healthy Living Award for people who have made a difference to their own health, or to the health of others:
Jason Ager, Vicki Latham.

The Richard Blake Leading Light Award for people who are showing a way to make the lives of others with learning disabilities better: 
Olivia Collins, Marc Evans, Vincent Gorry, Barbara Papper.

For more information about the Hertfordshire Disability Partnership Board and how you can get involved visit