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Community forum makes generous donations as final act

A community forum wrapped up 15 years of work on Monday by making several generous donations.

Pinkneys Green Community Forum, based at the Pinkneys Green Youth and Community Centre in Blenheim Road, was formed in late 2001 to work with local agencies to find ways to improve the Pinkneys Green estate.

Shaun Ella, forum chairman, said: "It's the end of an era really. We've had a good run, but it's just no longer cost effective."

The work the forum did evolved to include weekly social evenings with bingo, raffles and an annual fun day.

The group secured funds to buy a minibus to ensure transport was not a barrier for residents to attend its events.

The bus was also used for Christmas shopping trips, and took several youth groups on visits to Stamford Bridge and Wembley.

Shaun added: "It’s been great. I'm going to really miss all the people."

Kathy Newbound was a Royal Borough Lib Dem councillor in the ward for more than 20 years and was there at the group's formation.

She said: "Sometimes in areas there's often a real need for something to be done, but it takes someone really special to step up and bring the community together.

"The forum arrived at a time when there was a real need to help improve the estate."

After liquidating what remained of its assets, including the minibus, the group found itself with a pot of £15,000.

The remaining committee members decided the money should be split evenly between other charitable organisations that serve the area.

Una Loughrey, chairman of the Link Foundation, which received a share of the cash, said: "The money will be used to buy essential items at this time of year for those who can't afford them. Plus, we'll be providing Christmas dinner for nearly 700 families this year, so it couldn't have come at a better time."

Money also went to Thames Valley Air Ambulance, which has flown 16,000 missions since 1999 and is called out three or four times every day. "We're completely reliant on donations to stay operational, so we're very grateful," said Graham Forster, volunteer fundraiser.

Sandra Scott, community fundraiser for Thames Hospice, said: "We're delighted that the Pinkneys Green committee have chosen to support us. Their generosity will help us to continue our work providing expert care for people with life-limiting illnesses."

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