Janice Scott has worked tirelessly to help transform the estate she’s always lived on in Bury St Edmunds – so our local store colleagues were delighted to surprise her with a £10,000 Christmas grant from the Asda Foundation.
The store’s community champion Michelle Frost has been a big supporter of the Priors Estate Action Group – and she and general store manager Kevin Kappes sprang the surprise when they went along to help serve a festive meal for elderly residents.
Janice (pictured above centre with entertainments secretary Carrie Ann Hutchinson) set up the group three years ago and together with other volunteers has turned the area around by organising fun community activities, refurbishing play areas and hosting sports days and other events. The Asda Foundation grant will go towards a minibus to take local residents on day trips.
Janice, who recently received a community award for her work in transforming the estate, said: "I was speechless – it was such a shock and it hasn't sunk in. It was really emotional.
"I saw the cheque wrapped up in wrapping paper and I thought it was the £1,000 Asda Foundation grant given to us to go towards our Christmas parties for senior citizens and local children.
"It was such a shock to count the number of noughts and realise it was a £10,000 cheque. The £1,000 made a massive difference so it's hard to put into words what a difference £10,000 will make.
"We need a minibus to take people from the estate on days out – like taking the elderly to the theatre and the children to the seaside and on camping trips. A lot of people on the estate can't afford their own transport.
"We lost our pub in 2014 so a few of us got together and set up the action group. We all put in £50 to start it. Since then we've had fun days, parties for children and senior citizens and it's just gone from strength to strength."
Janice, who's 53, said: "I was born and bred on the estate which used to have a very bad reputation in the town. But now people want to move on to the estate. People's attitudes have changed and everyone talks to each other, whereas before it was so separated.
"Michelle has been a great help – she's a ray of light, absolutely amazing. Everyone she meets loves her. Thank you Michelle, Kevin and everyone at the Asda Foundation!"
Janice's work was recognised this year by Community Action Suffolk who presented her with the Ian Campbell MBE Award for Individual Initiative.
The party was held at All Saints Church and Michelle and Kevin helped serve a festive meal to elderly residents from the estate. The guests also enjoyed entertainment from a vocal group.
Michelle (pictured below with guests at the festive meal) said: "When I first found out this group were going to receive this surprise grant I cried – they're such an amazing group and Janice is incredible.
"I've been like an excited child keeping this grant a surprise! The whole day was phenomenal.
"I first met Janice and the group when they approached me to see if they could get any funding from the Green Token Giving scheme towards refurbishing an old play area for the kids. They received funding and it all went from there."
Take a look at more pictures from the day in this gallery: