Rita Janet Jones BEM.
Awarded the BEM for services to the community in Stretford.
Proud mother of four and cancer survivor, Rita was born in Trafford and has lived here her whole life. She has been serving The Trees Estate Residents’ Association for the last 25 years and was one of its founding members.
The Association was set up to help the community and to make it a better place to live. Starting by addressing some of the many issues on the estate, such as lack of public resources, playgrounds, zebra crossings on busy junctions, etc. Although recognised as issues by local residents, there hadn’t been enough impact to push plans for change forward. It was to this end that, with some help from the Council, Rita and others formed The Trees Estate Residents’ Association. The Association acts on behalf of the residents communicating with the local authority and informing them of the estate’s wants and needs.
Rita built on the initial successes of the Association, and went on to find out what the deeper problems within the community might be – and set about finding ways of solving these problems. She has become the ‘go-to’ person for information and assistance within the community.
When asked what would happen to the Association when there aren’t any problems to solve, she replied: ‘We won’t give up the Association just because we have a bit of down-time; we need to be here and ready to help at all times. There is always something that needs to be done within the community, we can always come up with fun activities for the community to do, and this is how we can bring the community together as one big family.’
In the 25 years that Rita has been working with the Association, she has helped to organised kids’ fun day events, elderly day trips and set up a local history club - even using her own home as a venue for showing vintage films.
She says that home has a different definition to her than most people; she does not see the end of her front garden as the border of her home. She sees the estate and the whole community as her home, and each individual member of the community as part of a family that she wants to look after. The love for her big family is where her passion comes from and she never stops, not even when she recently battled cancer. Six months after a major operation she has bounced back to her feet - organising the neighbourhood watch and other local social events.
It is one thing to do a good deed once in a while, but to keep doing the good deeds every day for many years becomes something extraordinary.