Community heroes thanked for making a difference in Rushden and Raunds

Marguerite receiving her gift from the Longhurst Group
Marguerite receiving her gift from the Longhurst Group

Two kind-hearted residents have been recognised for the difference they make in their communities as part of the Longhurst Group’s Good Deeds of Christmas campaign.

Staff from across the group, which is one of the largest housing groups in the Midlands and East of England, were encouraged to nominate groups and individuals they felt could benefit from a good deed in the run-up to Christmas.

Gerald receiving his gift from the Longhurst Group

Gerald receiving his gift from the Longhurst Group

Nominations flooded in with a judging panel selecting who would be presented with an award in partnership with project sponsors Keepmoat, Kier, Burleys, J R Allen, and Aaron Services.

Among the first to be have their Christmas hampers delivered as part of the campaign were Marguerite Burnage and Gerald Donaldson.

Marguerite, 84, who is a resident of The Forresters in Raunds, was recognised for organising events at the sheltered scheme to support the community.

For the last 13 years, she has been waking up early most mornings to open up the scheme’s community room and get it ready to host the day’s activities.

She said: “I was very thrilled and very surprised when I heard that I was going to be given a hamper.

“I first started opening up when my daughter worked here as a warden.

“I’ve been doing it most mornings ever since.

“I used to do it on my own but now some of the younger residents help me out.

“We have coffee mornings every Tuesday with tea and cakes and then on a Wednesdays we have knit and natter sessions, which are very popular.

“I just do it to try and help out, but it was a lovely surprise to be given a hamper as a thank you.

“I think it’s a wonderful gesture and I’m very thankful.”

Gerald was nominated for looking out for his neighbours in Fosse Green, Rushden.

The 81-year-old regularly brings in the bins for people on his street so it isn’t obvious their homes are empty while they’re away at work.

His ‘bin monitor’ service also extends to some of his more elderly neighbours to save them the strain of having to do it themselves.

He said: “I started doing it over a year ago now, firstly for a neighbour who was in a wheelchair, to save her having to do it herself.

“Then someone on the street got burgled and so I thought, if I brought their bins in for them, people wouldn’t know that they’re out.

“It seemed to work and so I just kept doing it.

“I’m retired now and it gives me a way of helping people.

“I’ve had a lot of help off my neighbours over the years and so I just wanted to give something back.

“Blimey, it was fantastic when you presented me with the hamper – a really nice surprise.

“I’ll admit it brought a tear to my eye afterwards.

“There’s a lot of bad things in the world but this was lovely.

“I only do it out of goodwill and not for thanks but I really appreciate what they’ve done for me.”

Initially an initiative launched successfully by Spire Homes, which has offices in Rushden and Rutland, this year, the Good Deeds campaign was opened out to all of the group’s member associations, meaning that even more deserving people and causes were recognised.

Customer engagement team manager Helen Mead said: “The Good Deeds of Christmas provides an excellent opportunity to thank those people in our community who voluntarily carry out good deeds to help others.

“Spire had successfully delivered good deeds such as hampers, shopping vouchers and gifts for people in the Northamptonshire area for the last two years and we wanted to open this out to the Longhurst group as a whole to include, L&H, FCH and Axiom as well as Spire Homes.

“It’s been a huge success with nearly 30 Good Deeds due to be given during the run-up to Christmas.”