A FORMER Saddleworth resident is one of three people to receive special medals to recognise their voluntary contributions to a homelessness charity.
Richard Darlington helped established the first Emmaus community in the UK and was a founding father of Emmaus Mossley which has supported hundreds of ‘companions’ since it opened at Longlands Mill in 1997.
Richard – a Saddleworth Parish councillor until May 2021 who lived in Grotton – collected the accolade with Frances Hirst and Don Simpson.
Each played important roles in establishing Emmaus Mossley and helped grow other Emmaus charities across the UK.
The trio received an Emmaus UK 30th Anniversary Founders’ Medal in recognition of their outstanding voluntary service.
Richard said: “I was profoundly touched by the arrival of this medal and am proud to have been involved at the beginning of Emmaus in Cambridge and to have brought the good news to Saddleworth and Mossley.
“You only have to be involved with an Emmaus community to become an enthusiastic supporter.”
Emmaus communities support formerly homeless people by giving them a home, meaningful work in a social enterprise and an opportunity to regain lost self-esteem to help rebuild their lives.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of Emmaus in the UK. There are now 29 Emmaus communities across the country.
Frances joined the board of trustees at Emmaus Mossley in 1999 and continues to be actively involved in both Emmaus Mossley and the wider movement.
“One of the many things I value about Emmaus is the camaraderie of companions, trustees, staff and volunteers who work together to achieve great things,” she said.
“It is always a team endeavour and all the richer for that. What little I have done is only possible because of that support.
“The inscription on the medal from Abbé Pierre says everything about Emmaus: ‘If you are suffering, whoever you are, come in, eat, sleep, and regain hope. Here you are loved’.”
The first Emmaus community was founded in Paris in 1949 by Father Henri-Antoine Grouès, better known as Abbé Pierre.
Emmaus communities were established across France and Abbé Pierre became an international figure, promoting the Emmaus movement across four continents.
Don, the third medal recipient, was a founding member of Emmaus Mossley and trustee until 2017.
He has also served as a trustee at other Emmaus charities and is currently secretary of the Emmaus North-West partnership.
To find out more and support Emmaus Mossley head online to emmaus.org.uk/mossley