Meet our TSB Community Hero Award winner, Dena

1 November 2020 | North West England

Dena Murphy

Super great gran aged 90 recognised for helping her community thrive.

Dena Murphy is a force of nature in more ways than one. Not only does she grow fresh fruit and veg on an allotment to help feed lonely pensioners, but she has also helped hundreds of young offenders get their lives back on track. And she is 90.

The great gran spends up to three hours a day digging her allotment in the New Moston area of Manchester, where she has lived for 24 years.

But this is a patch with a difference. She uses her love of gardening to help young offenders learn new skills and repay their debt to society. So far, she has helped more than 300 young people complete community payback orders.

Dena’s extraordinary contribution was recognised at the Pride of Manchester Awards in 2019, in partnership with TSB. This year however Dena has now been recognised at the Pride of Britain Awards for her continued contribution to her community.

Dena received the TSB Community Hero Award - which recognises people who help others so the community can thrive.

As well as providing an outlet for young offenders, the 23 types of fruit and veg that Dena grows provide a weekly lunch for around 50 local pensioners.

Dena also runs a takeaway service delivering meals to elderly people who are housebound.

She says: “A very wise man once said to me, ‘how many hands do you have?’ Two I replied. ‘And which one do you use most?’ he asked. My right, I replied. ‘In that case, that leaves you with your left hand to help others.’ I have never forgotten that.

“Community is like a honeycomb. We are all the same in that we are all human, but each one works in a different way. And every cell has a different problem that need addressing.”

Her heart is in her allotment and the youngsters whose lives she has transformed. She says: “I enjoy working with the young men. I have worked with them for nine years. I have never ever had a bad word from any of them. They respect me. I have met some amazing friends through it. Kids come to me with their problems.”

One ex-offender, Stephen, credits Dena with changing his life, sending her a card every Christmas with a straight line drawn inside, to symbolise the way she’s straightened him out. He said: “If Dena was my grandma then my life would never have gone wrong in the first place.”

Police Community Support Officer John Cannon said: “Dena is the matriarch of New Moston. People who have been to court and had a community order placed on them work with Dena and she has transformed some of their lives.

“Not only are they there to do community work, but Dena takes on board their personal situations. I know she has helped young offenders who have got into financial difficulty to sort out their lives.”

Dena adds: “This shed here, the stories it could tell. I think I am some sort of grandmother-confessor type sometimes. And I am very proud of the fact several of them have gone onto higher education, and in some instances gained degrees including one in landscaping.”

For more information, contact or follow @nephranewmoston on Facebook.

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