Take a bow, Dame Teresa Graham!

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Early in December 2006, Teresa Graham and Sally Wilton arrived at the Sustainability Institute, did a whirlwind tour around Lynedoch with Eve, and then said: ‘Thank you. We’d like to help’. Two days later, a freak tornado swept through their home suburb, Kensal Rise, London. With what we have come to know as their customary creative brilliance, Sally and Teresa immediately began what is now a 14-year funding relationship with the Institute, supporting multiple facets of our work. And, very shortly thereafter they founded the Lexi Cinema in Kensal Rise. Moved by their local community reaction to the tornado, the Lexi is an effort to continue to build community as a social enterprise, through the efforts of 50 volunteers and donates100% of its profits to the Institute!

Sally and Teresa’s relationship with the Institute has been a rare example of real empowerment: co-creating, imaginative, strategic and unfaltering through thick and thin. Our community is unimaginable without them.

During this time, Teresa has also worked with unflagging energy to make the UK an easier place to start and grow small businesses. Through leading independent reviews for successive governments, chairing advisory boards and committees and holding Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs to account over the impact of tax changes on small businesses, Teresa has doggedly held out for diverse business voices to be heard.

For this, she has been one of only 15 (four women) this year to be awarded one of the Queen’s highest honours: Dame Commander.

T – We know you best in your shorts and t-shirt, doing hand-painting with the children in the Lynedoch Children’s House. Or when your face softens watching a small child absorbed in an activity. Or your unswerving enthusiasm for education, and your joy in the stories of change at Lynedoch – one life at a time.

Thank you. And congratulations from all at the Institute on this well-deserved and incredible honour. You have changed many lives, often without people even knowing it was you.

Take a bow, Dame T, take a bow.

With love, admiration and great celebration, your SI family