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Royal treatment for community stalwart

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Stroud volunteer Jacqueline Smith attended a Royal Garden Party in recognition of her community work in Paganhill, writes Marianne Sweet.

Jacqueline, who is known as Jaqui, is Director and Founder of Paganhill Community Group, attended the Royal Garden Party at Buckingham Palace.

She was accompanied by two guests including her son Joseph Nock, a volunteer at the Men’s Shed for Independence Trust and a NHS volunteer consultant.

“There was a lovely big band music, good sandwiches and cake but most of all a nice atmosphere with helpful staff, smiling police and all in sunshine with just a few spots of rain,” said Jaqui.

Jaqui thanked those who nominated her and recognised the work of volunteers.

The Paganhill Community Group has had a challenging time. The hub normally caters to more than 300 people a week at The Octagon but has had to close temporarily following concerns about rain coming through the former church roof. This week, thanks to the Long Table and others, the group were able to run its community cafe in gazebos.

The roof has leaked for a while and PCG Directors had been working on getting the necessary lease to carry out the repair work that the condition and maintenance report required. The group is part of NoSH (Network of Stroud Hubs), some of which also work in former church buildings or venues urgently needing repairs.

“Hopefully it won’t take too long to do the repairs and we can again open The Octagon to our community,” says Jaqui. “Please give what you can to your local community, in time, donations or expertise. We need each other in these challenging times.”

Stroud Mayor Stella Parkes said:“We are so fortunate in Stroud to have six wonderful community groups that make up the Network of Stroud Hubs (NoSH). Unfortunately, many of them struggle with insecure tenancies in buildings that require significant repairs to make them sustainable in the long run.

“They are also principally volunteer run, without core funding, and they cannot easily move without losing the connections that make them so special. This means they have to cope with extremely challenging circumstances, on top of creating joyful spaces in which neighbours meet neighbours. If we want these spaces to continue to thrive into the future we need to come together to support them.”

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