A group of volunteers stand in their community garden project underneath a bright blue sky

Volunteers of parish community project nominated for royal recognition

Saturday 20th January 2024

Volunteers at a parish community project are hoping for a royal seal of approval after being nominated for another prestigious award.

The Bee Together Community Centre and Garden – based at the Parish of The Nativity in Failsworth and Limeside – has recently been nominated for The Kings Award for Voluntary Service.

No stranger to awards and accolades, the project already has a number of RHS Awards under its belt, thanks to its vibrant community garden, and this latest nomination pays tribute to the tireless efforts of all the volunteers who bring this wonderful community centre and garden to life.

Pauline Riley, parishioner and parish coordinator, said: “To say we’re excited is an understatement, it’s such a huge honour to get this far.”

The nomination was made by the headteacher of Holy Family RC Primary School, which was bolstered by additional letters of support from people familiar with the project.

Following the nomination, volunteers were invited to attend a meeting with Vice Lord-Lieutenant of Greater Manchester, Sharman Birtles, who heard more about the extraordinary work of the volunteers and the impact it is making in the local community.

Pauline said: “The meeting was very inspiring. And without exception, l received feedback from everyone who felt it had made them feel valued and very special. We all had a really great morning it was very positive. It gave us all the incentive to continue doing our voluntary work.

“Whatever happens next is out of our hands, but it’s a real honour to have got this far.”

After reviewing the notes and testimonies from the meeting – along with additional documents – the Vice Lord Lieutenant compiled a citation and assessment that has been presented to a panel for further consideration. A decision will now be made on whether or not to progress the nomination, with the outcome being announced to mark the King’s birthday in November.

In the meantime, 2024 is looking busier than ever for this parish project, with plans to introduce year-round growth in the garden to increase produce to share in the community, whilst a calendar full of engagements look set to make the centre a hive of activity.

White flowers spring up out of an accessible planter, against the greenery of its leaves. A further planter with pink flowers can be seen in the background, with bark in between

From Irish dancing and film nights, to honey tasting and community get togethers, the Bee Together Community Centre strives to be a place of welcome for all, and at the heart of its mission are one or two projects that particularly resonate with Pope Francis’ message of fraternity for people of all faiths and none.

The “Call in for a Cup” group regularly welcomes as many as 35 guests every Tuesday to provide people with a friendly face and listening ear over a warm drink and game of Bingo, whilst The Pantry acts as a food distribution service to offer a helping hand to people right across the area. Volunteers are also on hand to help with emergency furniture, assistance with school applications, and signposting to different agencies or charities that can offer further support.

Canon Michael Job, parish priest at the Parish of the Nativity, has shared his admiration for the volunteers and his delight at the recognition they’ve received so far.

He said: “When we set out with the idea of a garden in 2019, the dream was to provide a home from home for all people in Failsworth and Limeside, and to live out the Gospel call to love each other and our common home.

“Almost five years later and our beautiful garden is helping people of all faiths and none hear about and respond to the call to be good stewards of creation, whilst our centre provides a base for friendship, wellbeing and outreach.

“All this is testament to the incredible work of volunteers across the community and I’m so pleased to see that recognised with this nomination.”

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Tagged | Around the Diocese | Diocese | Environment | Parishes | Pope Francis

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