TRIBUTES have been paid to the man who helped found Mossley’s Emmaus charity, Richard Darlington.
Described as a ‘catalyst and pioneer’ as well as a ‘champion,’ the 90-year-old passed away at his home in Devon.
He maintained his sense of humour until the end, with son Martin saying about Father’s Day pictures: “I’m very proud that he’s applying Eric Idle’s most profound advice and looking on the bright side. By pulling daft faces. Hey, it made us chuckle.”
But his impact on Mossley, and the Emmaus movement as a whole, cannot go understated.
Andrew Kilburn, chair of the town’s branch, said: “The one without whom nothing would have been possible.
“This phrase was coined by Abbé Pierre in reference to Lucie Coutaz, his lifelong assistant. He viewed Lucie as essential to the development of Emmaus over the years.
“The same words can be used to describe Richard Darlington’s contribution to the founding and growth of Emmaus in Mossley and the North West.
“In 1990, Richard heard a local businessman, Selwyn Image, speak at a conference about Emmaus – its principles and methods of operation.
“Immediately taken by the concept, Selwyn and Richard travelled to France and spent a week volunteering at Emmaus Boulogne.
“At the end of the week, Richard knew he had found what he was looking for. Richard worked with a local committee to establish Emmaus Cambridge, which was opened in the summer of 1992 by Terry Waite.
“Richard and his wife Elizabeth then moved to Oldham in 1994 and in 1995 he gave a series of talks about housing and homelessness to members of his local church, St Anne’s Lydgate.
“Over a relatively short period of time, Richard successfully sold and marketed that vision and brought together a group of skilled and dedicated volunteers capable of making it happen.
“The search for premises began in earnest and 28 potential buildings were viewed across Greater Manchester.
“Longlands Mill in Mossley was an attractive option but it was beyond any budget available. Meetings with residents and local councillors were held and planning approval was obtained on January 31, 1996.
“Other buyers failed to complete a deal and when Iain Mackechnie-Jarvis of Emmaus UK was offered a grant by the Tudor Trust for an Emmaus project in the north, the purchase was back on.
“The deal was completed in August 1996.
“Richard then led the team in fundraising and provided the project management skills leading to the redevelopment of Longlands Mill.
“He continued to provide leadership when Emmaus Mossley began to receive companions, standing in as project director on several occasions.
“Richard placed enormous emphasis on building trust and confidence within the local community. This led to him playing an instrumental role in the launch of Mossley Heritage Centre, by offering space inside Longlands Mill to Mossley Civic Society.
“His contribution has been immense and we will continue to work to achieve the dreams and vision that Richard had all those years ago.
“On behalf of everyone at Emmaus Mossley, we send our sincere condolences to Richard’s family, friends and all who knew him.
“We have no doubt that without Richard, there would have been no Emmaus Mossley.”
Richard had worked in Skelmersdale, Kenya, Derby and Cambridge before moving to Oldham.
It was at Derby he first became interested in increasing levels of public participation in housing issues.
That developed further when he moved to Cambridge in 1972, where he spent 10 years working on private sector properties in General Improvement Areas.
He subsequently moved to the housing department and took responsibility for housing aid and advice services.
It was in that job that he realised that nothing was being provided for the single homeless.
He received an Emmaus Founders’ Medal in 2021 and later that year, a green plaque was unveiled at Longlands Mill by Terry Waite to celebrate Richard’s enormous contribution to the cause’s community.
And Mossley Heritage Centre also could not let his contribution go unmarked.
A spokesman said: “Richard was the original inspiration for Mossley Heritage Centre.
“He devoted years of his busy life to Emmaus and to the Heritage Centre. We will be forever grateful for his ideas, enthusiasm and support.”