I didn’t write about the horrific attack on the Manchester Arena at the time. I tried, on numerous occasions, but everything I put down on paper seemed desperately inadequate, blurred further by a myriad of emotions that fluctuated between anger, despair, defiance and sorrow.
This was my city. My streets. My community. It felt personal.
But over the following days and weeks, one emotion proved stronger than all before it. Pride.
Pride in the people and our amazing emergency services. Pride in seeing the unbridled joy on the faces of all those children at the One Love concert. Pride in my boys entire school singing and dancing in the park the day after the attack and the dozens of people queuing up along our high street to get their bee tattoos in honour of the victims.
THIS was my city. My streets. My community. This made me feel pride like never before.
But as we go about our daily lives, it’s easy to take this community spirit for granted. Too often we forget that communities don’t just exist, they’re built. That the very fabric of any good society is held together by those who work tirelessly and selflessly to make it so.
I’m blessed to live in Urmston, a town where a sense of community lies at its very heart. So when I was asked to write a post celebrating our local unsung heroes as part of the Pride of Britain awards I was genuinely spoilt for choice.
There’s the fabulous Women’s Institute who yarn bomb our town centre and the many Friends of the Park groups that protect our green spaces. All those who give up their time to run our many playgroups and the amazing volunteers at the Toy House offering toy loans and support.
But as someone who relied heavily on our community during my time as a stay-home dad, there’s one person in particular who embodies all that’s great about our town. Someone whose positivity and enthusiasm inspires young and old alike. Someone by the name of Sue Wilkinson, founder of our wonderful Cheeky Cherubs Community Centre.
Opened in 2014, Cheeky Cherubs is a not-for-profit enterprise that serves children of all ages in our community, and their parents.
When local government cuts saw the doors close on many of our Surestart centres and youth clubs, Sue saw it as a call to arms.
Pre-school activities are run in the mornings and youth clubs that cater for all abilities/disabilities run in the evenings. There’s a cafe, soft-play structure, sensory room and early learning area. They provide affordable wrap around care and holiday clubs. Employ local people, offer apprenticeships, and there’s even pop up shops for local small businesses to try out some retail space in the town centre.
It’s a community centre in every sense of the word. A wonderful testament to the hard work and dedication of Sue and her team of staff/volunteers. Something the whole of Urmston can be rightly proud of.
And it’s why I’ll be nominating Sue and Cheeky Cherubs for a TSB Community Partner Award, and just between you and me, I think you should too.
For your chance to win tickets to the Pride of Britain Awards, head over to the TSB Local Pride website to see where the convoy of Mini Cooper’s are heading next and to enter your own selfie.
Ok, so technically mine isn’t a selfie but what can you do? Apart from learn how to take a selfie maybe. Still, it was great chatting about all things community with the lovely staff of TSB.
And if there’s someone in your community who you think deserves to be nominated for a TSB Community Partner Award, visit www.prideofbritain.com/nominate.
What are you waiting for? Get nominating!