A COMMUNITY stalwart from Coventry has been recognised for his hard work with an award from the High Sheriff of the West Midlands.
Louise Bennett OBE DL presented a certificate and medal to Ray Stabler following his work bringing the community of Stoke Aldermoor together over more than two decades.
Ray was one of a number of people from the region receiving the High Sheriff accolade at a summer reception attended by a host of dignitaries.
Among them was the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of Coventry, Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of Birmingham, Mayor and Mayoress of Wolverhampton and the Mayor of Solihull.
The reception was held at the new Telegraph Hotel in Corporation Street, Coventry, in front of 75 invited guests.
The award comes just over a year after Ray established a local food hub for Stoke Aldermoor residents so they could access provisions while they were shielding or self-isolating during the pandemic.
Since then, the food hub has evolved into a sustainable food shop, or social supermarket, continuing to help the disabled and those on low incomes.
The hub is part of a network of food hubs in Coventry, working with city council referrals to receive emergency food parcels.
Whilst the food hub is the latest project for Ray, he has also devoted years to organising fun activities for people of all ages in his community, including bingo, talent shows, Easter and summer fetes, Halloween and Christmas parties and day trips to the seaside.
He also works to plan for the changing needs and expectations in the area and is the manager of the Stoke Aldermoor LIFE Centre which provides a community space offering quality facilities and activities for the local community.
He has previously worked as a health LINK worker in his community, providing advice and practical support to help people improve their health and wellbeing. In this role he also led community walks, encouraging neighbours to get out and about and exercise in the fresh air.
Ray was nominated by the Lord Mayor of Coventry, Coun John McNicholas.
He said Ray had time for everyone and often took on roles of others unable to carry out their duties so the community did not lose out.
“Ray’s role is entirely voluntary – he is at the LIFE centre at least four or five days a week ensuring the food hub or social supermarket is run successfully and smoothly.
“He has almost 24 years of charity and community experience in Stoke Aldermoor, supporting all groups of people and residents who attend the community centre – over 55s, religious groups, youth groups and many more.”
Louise described Ray as a ‘shining light in his local community’.
“His efforts over the years have helped make a real difference to the people of Stoke Aldermoor – whether on a social level as his activities help create lifelong friendships, or on a practical level such as the food hub.
“That will have been a lifeline for many over several months during the height of the pandemic and beyond.”
The event was also attended by David Burbidge CBE DL, who is the chairman of the Coventry City of Culture Trust, and was the last citizen to hold the High Sheriff of the West Midlands position in 1990.