A local social group for adults with disabilities has been recognised with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service for its remarkable work in Ashton and Oldham.
Ambitions is a community group, run by a 25-strong team of volunteers, that provides social activities for young, and not so young, adults with learning and physical disabilities. Activities include a social club, themed discos, karaoke and trips out to places like Blackpool and Alton Towers.
The Queen’s Award, which is the highest honour a voluntary group can receive, comes in an extra special year for Ambitions, who are celebrating their tenth anniversary.
The group was formed in Oldham in 2010 by Jonathan Griffiths-Barnes (Chair), Angela Pagett (Treasurer) and Andy Andrejczak (Secretary), with Jonathan’s wife Stephanie Griffiths-Barnes (Team Leader) also making up the committee.
They say they’re delighted with the recognitions for the fantastic volunteers, who so enthusiastically give their time and effort to help members take part in Ambitions activities safely but enjoyably.
“To receive the Queen’s Award in our tenth year is a massive achievement,” Jonathan said. “We found out about six weeks ago and it’s been hard to keep quiet.
“We have around 25 volunteers but couldn’t say anything, even though we were so eager to tell them. We’re so excited to finally announce it.”
After establishing themselves in Oldham with around 690 members, Ambitions moved into Ashton four years ago, where they have around 270 members.
Their most popular event is a weekly disco at The Engine Rooms, with members coming from afar as Altrincham, Timperley and Huddersfield to enjoy.
Jonathan explained: “The whole concept of the disco is to create normality for our members. It’s not a private function, there are members of the public in the pub at the same time.
“We do it on a Tuesday when it might be less busy, but we do keep it open because it’s about our members fitting into society. The public are always amazing though; always donating and buying raffle tickets.”
Every year, Ambitions celebrate their anniversary in October with a big party and while it’s not clear how possible that will be this year, they’ve now got an extra special reason to celebrate.
Team Leader, Stephanie, said: “We’d planned to celebrate our 4th anniversary in Ashton on Tuesday, October 6 with a big party, as we do every year, with the Mayor always coming along as always.
“But once lockdown is over, we’re going to have a big night to celebrate the award, our volunteers and all our members.”
The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service aims to recognise outstanding work by volunteer groups to benefit their local communities. It was created in 2002 to celebrate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee and recipients are announced each year on the 2nd June, the anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation.