STEVEN Barton, described as a “go-to guy for those in poverty”, has received his British Empire Medal in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to the community.
And with a visit to Buckingham Palace out of the question for the investiture due to Covid-19, what better place as a replacement venue than Bower Fold, home of Steven’s beloved Stalybridge Celtic.
Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Greater Manchester Sharman Birtles conducted the ceremony in front of family, friends and many of the other local charities with whom he works.
Sharman, reading out the citation, referred to Steven, 51, who lives on Ridge Hill, as ‘one of the most popular and well-known people in Stalybridge’.
Steven, a self-employed gardener, personally witnessed during his work people finding life a struggle.
And despite having a partner Simone and three young children, James, Jacob and Emily, Steven set out four years ago to help them.
Steven, who operates the independent Barty’s Foodbank from a shipping container in the car park at The New Stalybridge Labour Club, has worked with local supermarkets, businesses, care homes and community groups.
Steven also operates foodbanks at four local schools: Wild Bank, Stalybridge; Micklehurst Primary; St Mary’s, Dukinfield, and Buckton Vale, Carrbook.
Sharman said: “What Steven does is remarkable for one man, including providing food parcels.
“He is a go-to guy for those in poverty. If they want a television or washer, he makes an appeal and gets it every time.
“Since Covid-19, Steven’s work has gone to a whole new level with the unofficial foodbank located in a shipping container in a car park.”
Sharman described Steven as a “very resourceful man” who does not drive but who can be seen pushing a handcart around Stalybridge as he makes deliveries.
And when he needs transport, he relies on lifts from friends or even pays for taxis out of his own pocket.
“Steven has made a huge, positive impact during lockdown to those in need and has ensured they do not go through lockdown without,” Sharman added.
It had been hoped to have the presentation on the pitch, but the effects of Storm Fleur prevented that as it had to be done indoors.
And Steven, alongside operating the foodbank, is already working on his next big event, his annual Christmas giveaway to ensure those in need do not go without during the festivities.