Two volunteers who helped to establish Emmaus Bolton have each been awarded an Emmaus UK 30th Anniversary Founders’ Medal in recognition of their outstanding service to the Emmaus movement.

Roger Speare MBE and George Almond CBE, DL were founding members of Emmaus Bolton in 2000 and have served as trustees for over 20 years. They have also helped to establish several other Emmaus communities across the North West and Midlands.

After five years of fundraising and searching for a suitable property for the community in Bolton, the founding group purchased the former Derby Barracks in Fletcher Street from the Ministry of Defence. Over the following years, the site has been developed to provide a stable home, support and meaningful work for some 200 formerly homeless people.

The social enterprise has one of Bolton’s largest charity shops, a social grocery store, a garden centre and café, a new recycling facility and an extensive workshop where donated goods are refurbished and new items made.

Roger commented: “For me, discovering Emmaus was a lightbulb moment. Abbé Pierre’s ideas and his belief in the power of the poorest people to bring about social transformation have made my service to this movement a labour of love. It is an unexpected honour and joy to receive this award.”

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, travelled the world spreading the word about Emmaus. The Emmaus movement now includes more than 400 communities and groups spread across four continents.

George said: “I’m honoured to have received this Founders’ Medal. Helping to open and nurture Emmaus Bolton has been difficult at times, but it has also been very rewarding to see people affected by homelessness join our community and turn their lives around with the support we are able to offer.”

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