'Truly deserving': Mum's national recognition for work in community

Melanie Lord, creator of Butterbean Bizarre, has been named a Small Business of 2020 by Lloyds Bank, thanks to her...

Melanie Lord, creator of Butterbean Bizarre, has been named a Small Business of 2020 by Lloyds Bank, thanks to her fantastic work. Melanie is pictured with her son Harry. Picture: Courtesy of Melanie Lord - Credit: Courtesy of Melanie Lord

A mum is celebrating once more after being honoured with a special award for her valuable work helping the community.

Having switched from selling home décor gifts to producing free visual aids to help people with additional needs during lockdown, Lowestoft-based crafter Melanie Lord has been named a Small Business of 2020 by Lloyds Bank.

Last year Miss Lord won two regional awards - a joint Changing Lives Special Recognition award at the Suffolk Business Awards and a Community Hero of the Year honour at the Stars of Norfolk and Waveney Awards.

Now Miss Lord, creator of online shop Butterbean Bizarre, has been named a winner in the Lloyds Bank Small Business of 2020 awards.

Melanie Lord, creator of Butterbean Bizarre, has been named a Small Business of 2020 by Lloyds Bank, thanks to her...

Melanie Lord, creator of Butterbean Bizarre, has been named a Small Business of 2020 by Lloyds Bank, thanks to her fantastic work. An example of Miss Lord's creations. Picture: Courtesy of Melanie Lord - Credit: Courtesy of Melanie Lord

Part of the prize was a business mentoring session with Reggae Reggae Sauce supremo Levi Roots, who shared advice from his journey to success, as well as suggesting some potential ideas to help Miss Lord grow her business.

With almost 900 businesses across the country nominated in the Lloyds Bank Small Business of 2020 awards competition, 24 winners were selected based on how creatively and quickly they adapted to events since March.

Miss Lord said: “When Covid-19 hit, it became apparent that there was a lack of resources for people with additional needs.

Melanie Lord, creator of Butterbean Bizarre, has been named a Small Business of 2020 by Lloyds Bank, thanks to her...

Melanie Lord, creator of Butterbean Bizarre, has been named a Small Business of 2020 by Lloyds Bank, thanks to her fantastic work. An example of one of the social stories. Picture: Courtesy of Melanie Lord - Credit: Courtesy of Melanie Lord

"I couldn’t find anything to explain to my son Harry, who has autism, what was happening, and I relied on making my own visual aids.

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"I realised other people would be in the same position as I was, so I decided to channel my time into creating visual aids to help others, free of charge."

After starting a blog featuring the resources - including social stories and visual aids to help people with special needs understand what to expect when visiting shops, hospitals or interacting with others during the pandemic - it quickly went from 200 views to 3,500 overnight.

These resources have now been used in schools, doctors’ surgeries, and hospitals locally.

Miss Lord said: "It’s something I’m going to continue doing as there’s a real need for this type of support.”

Gareth Oakley, managing director of business banking at Lloyds Banking Group, said: “Melanie is a perfect example of someone who has used her skills and commitment to her local community to create positive resources to make life easier for others during the pandemic."

He said she was "truly deserving" of the award.