TAMESIDE Council has congratulated Hyde’s The Grafton Centre on being honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service – the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK.
The community centre is a charity that works as a joint venture between volunteers and local people to provide a range of activities, services and courses to help residents become healthier and happier.
It has more than 500 active members and is run by almost 30 regular volunteers, who between them clock up more than 10,000 hours of service each year, a manager and a small board of trustees.
The award, which coincides with National Volunteers’ Week, is the equivalent to an MBE. Manager Gaynor Hannon and one of the longest serving volunteers, Joyce Dimelow, were invited to attend a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace.
Eight volunteers will be presented with the award at a ceremony at Gorton Monastery on August 29 and all the volunteers will be treated to an afternoon tea at Ryecroft Hall, Audenshaw, and given a badge.
Based in a council-owned building on Grafton Street, the centre’s primary purpose is to reduce isolation and loneliness but it has expanded to host a wide range of activities, including fitness sessions, IT classes, bowling, days out, dancing, art groups, games and much more. A bistro also offers homemade hot lunches.
Gaynor has managed the centre for a year and says the award will raise its profile for funding bids as she looks to expand its services.
She said: “It’s such an honour and recognition for the hard work that we’ve put in. I’m really proud of what we’ve done here and we want to make it the Hyde hub.”
Tameside Council Executive Leader Councillor Brenda Warrington said: “Congratulations to The Grafton Centre for its wonderful achievement in earning this prestigious award. Management, workers and volunteers have been rightly recognised for their hard work in creating a community centre that offers a vast range of healthy activities and brings people together.”
The awards were created in 2002 to celebrate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee with winners recognised for outstanding work in their communities. They are announced each year on the anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation.