Wigan community centre with 'big, big heart' receives top award from the King

Volunteers at a Wigan community centre were “absolutely amazed” to receive the highest award possible from King Charles III.
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The One House in Aspull was among the first recipients of the King’s Award for Voluntary Service, which is equivalent to an MBE and recognises outstanding service in the community.

It was founded by Karen Caffrey, in memory of her son David, to provide a one-stop facility where anyone in Aspull could go if they needed help or support.

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The One House volunteers celebrate receiving the King's Award for Voluntary ServiceThe One House volunteers celebrate receiving the King's Award for Voluntary Service
The One House volunteers celebrate receiving the King's Award for Voluntary Service
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The centre on Haigh Road has grown since then and now offers a whole range of services, run by a team of 16 volunteers.

Centre manager Kathleen Marsh described the work done there as “Karen’s legacy”, following her death from cancer in 2019.

She said: “We are absolutely amazed by it. It has been a lot of work over the last five years by all of the volunteers, past and present.

"This award really wouldn’t have happened without Karen Caffrey’s vision five years ago, wanting a centre for the community in Aspull. It’s all down to Karen.”

Kathleen Marsh, manager of The One House in AspullKathleen Marsh, manager of The One House in Aspull
Kathleen Marsh, manager of The One House in Aspull
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Over the past five years, The One House has provided food parcels, help for people affected by the war in Ukraine, advice on debt management, a meeting place for groups including knit and natter and a gardening club, and much more.

Mrs Marsh said: “It’s a small centre with a big, big heart.”

She praised ward councillors Chris Ready, Ron Conway and Laura Flynn for their support, and it was Coun Ready who nominated the centre for the award.

He said: “The centre is supported 100 per cent by the three ward councillors. The One House is an integral part of the community, offering many activities.”

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The team of volunteers will celebrate their royal award – but not until after Christmas.

Mrs Marsh said: “We have got so much on in the run-up to Christmas. It’s one of our busiest times for supporting families in need.

"We are still doing food parcels for those who need it and we have just received a grant through the National Lottery to support this cause.”

The centre is also offering breakfast with Santa on December 3, 10 and 17, which costs £5 per child and £2.50 per adult, and will be serving a three-course meal on Christmas Day.

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