The Lower Kersal Young People and Community Group (LKYPCG), formed in 2004 after the closure of Lower Kersal Activity Centre, has won the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service, which is the MBE for volunteer groups.
The Group, which currently has 27 volunteers aged between 11 and 84, has been involved with zillions of projects, ranging from youth groups to films and plays, to food education, growing and cooking, to line dancing, boot camps and even a Salford Good Deeds Book*.
The volunteers were presented with special certificates at St Aidan's Church this week, before a formal ceremony on 29th August at Gorton Monastery. We caught up with the Group at Lower Kersal Allotments to have a word with Tommy Lever, himself already an MBE, and co-founder of LKYPCG with wife Lesley.
The allotment has been a labour of love for the Group and the space has been transformed, with a state of the art 'shed', fruit trees and raised beds producing everything from corn-on-the cob to peppers, rhubarb, strawberries, courgettes, tomatoes and potatoes. No wellies needed here.
"We grow pretty much everything, and everyone gets a chance to sample it later in the year when we cook it during an eating day" says Tommy "Today we're working with ex-military veterans from Broughton House on a project supported by the British Legion. They will be working on the allotment, there will be some days out, line dancing and cooking, but basically it's more about companionship for them."
Indeed, at the centre of everything the Group does is an emphasis on social interaction and maintaining a community spirit in the midst of an area that has been undergoing huge 'regeneration' changes over the last 15 years. The Queen's Award is basically recognition for this incredible work.
"It's a great honour" says Tommy "We've got a great bunch of volunteers, past and present, who have worked with the Group to make it what it is today. They put so many hours in to make this group special and without them we couldn't do what we do.
"We've also got a great committee of 16 people who are hands-on and put in a lot of hours as well" he adds "We've pretty much done everything and we're still striving to go forward..."
Indeed, last year Lower Kersal Young People and Community Group became a registered charity, further cementing its status in the area...
"In 14 years we've come a long, long way but there's two issues that I'm still concerned about" Tommy explains "There's the problem of long term funding for the group, and I'd love to have our own building because then I think we can really help ourselves to go forward in the future."
With millions of pounds being poured into the area by developers currently building on Littleton Road and huge plans afoot for the old Castle Irwell site, surely this can become a reality. In the meantime the Group has been properly crowned for its endeavours.
For further information on the work of Lower Kersal Young People and Community Group see the Facebook page – click here
See also previous Salford Star articles about the Group...
Good Deeds In Salford Book Shows Positive Side of the City - click here
Real Salford Blitz at The Lowry - click here
Lower Kersal Film on Heroism and Fate in World War 1 - click here
Lower Kersal Group at Salford Film Festival - click here
Main photo shows the group's volunteers on the Lower Kersal allotment