A retired vicar from Sapiston has recieved an award from Prime Minister Theresa May for helping rural communities with a mobile cafe she set up.
The Rev Canon Sally Fogden MBE had the idea for the Rural Coffee Caravan to help people of all ages socialise and get access to many hard to reach services, such as blood pressure checks and financial advice while providing free tea, coffee and cake.
She said: “I came up with the idea after working for another charity and it occurred to me that there were people in isolated communities who couldn’t get to some services. I originally thought of a bus but I was told that may be too big, so we got a caravan instead.”
She has been given the Points of Light award which recognises outstanding individual volunteers, people who make a difference in their communities and who inspire others.
In a personal letter about the award to Mrs Fogden, the Prime Minister said: “Thanks to your vision and dedication, The Rural Coffee Caravan is helping rural communities across Suffolk, fostering community spirit and providing valuable services and advice to thousands of local residents.”
The caravan made 180 visits last year, having around 5,800 people visit the facility.
The caravan visits villages such as Wattisfield, Thurston, Kentford and Finningham.
Mrs Fogden is the 718th recipient of the award, which started in the UK in 2014 and is a daily award that is given to those who are shining examples of volunteering in this country.
She said: “It was all a bit surprising, we are a small charity that does small things in small places but I am delighted to have been given the award,”
The charity was set up in 2003 and Mrs Fogden said she was proud of how far they hadcome and amazed at how the charity had grown.
She said: “Some places that we go to have no shops, no pubs, so where do they go to get together?
“Our caravan has helped communities to sit down and have a free tea or coffee, a piece of cake and talk to each other.”
For more details, visit the charity’s website: www.rural coffeecaravan.org.uk