201. Alan Fish
A local volunteer led the work to transform overgrown playing fields in Ashton-under-Lyne into parks and football pitches for thousands of people to enjoy.
As Chairman of the Friends of King George V Playing Fields, Alan Fish, who recently retired from running his own maintenance business, has spent thousands of hours volunteering over the last four years. In this time Alan has transformed the fields from a run-down area to a community hub which includes a new cafe, fitness trails, a bee hive and an orchard where rare varieties of apples and pears are grown. Several local junior football teams now use the playing fields to host matches and the park regularly runs open air events in the summer.
The award comes ahead of the 79th anniversary of George V’s death on 20th January. The playing fields were created as a memorial to King George V in 1936 when 19 acres of land was purchased by the Council. At the time, the land was laid out with two bowling greens, a bowling house and three tennis courts – providing popular entertainment to the people who lived in Ashton-under-Lyne. However when Alan started volunteering in 2001, the land had deteriorated significantly and even the playing fields could not be used for football activities anymore.
Alan wanted to do something about this and created the Friends of King George V Playing Fields, a group dedicated to renovating the land and bringing it back into local community use. In the last two years Alan has raised over £30,000 and led teams in planting hundreds of trees and plants on the site as well as collecting litter, stewarding events and welcoming visitors. Alan has also helped to set up local cafe Georgie Porgie’s, staffed entirely by volunteers which is a popular place to visit.
Over 20 people now regularly volunteer at the King George V Playing Fields and there are now teams of volunteers running Georgie Porgie’s cafe as well as further groups who look after the bees and care for the orchard. There is in addition a strong group of trustees who plan future developments at the site.
Prime Minister David Cameron said:
“Alan has been instrumental in creating a vibrant community hub at the King George V Playing Fields, transforming the space for the whole community. Thanks to Alan, the playing fields now host regular events and provide a welcome habitat for bees and other wildlife. I’m delighted to announce that Alan is a Point of Light today.”
“I’m thrilled and surprised to receive this award. None of this would have been possible without the help and support of the catering team and all the other volunteers who have helped to transform the King George V Playing Fields. I am delighted that the work we have done has brought lots more people into the park to use the facilities that we’ve put in place. My main hope is that more people come and appreciate this fantastic space.”