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Tribute surprises good neighbour

A woman described as a tower of strength in her neighbourhood has received a surprise tribute after residents got in touch with housing association Homes Plus.

Kerry Parkes grew up in a South Staffordshire village and her roles as dinner lady and previously the school crossing patrol warden or ‘lollipop lady’, have made her a popular figure with local children. Decorations on her house at Halloween are must-see displays each year and Kerry’s litter-picks keep her beloved village looking its best.

Homes Plus – which is the new name for landlords South Staffordshire Housing Association, Severnside Housing and Stafford and Rural Homes – asks tenants to celebrate great neighbours using its online Local Hero form. Choosing from these nominations, the landlord delivers surprise ‘thank you’ chocolate gifts.

Kerry was nominated by neighbour Jackie French: “She does so much for this community, it’s great that we can give her some recognition as our local hero,” she explained. “Kerry has helped countless people who are in need. During the Covid-19 lockdowns she delivered essential shopping for elderly neighbours and made sure that everyone kept in touch, particularly those who were living alone.

“Kerry brings our village together. She runs community pages on social media, she helped to set-up a youth club and created a local group which encourages mums to connect for chat and support. She always thinks about others and we wanted to make her feel special.”

Last year, Kerry created an Easter egg trail around the village, explaining that she wanted to lift spirits in lockdown and organise something for families to enjoy together. That proved so popular that it was repeated this year, with prizes donated by local people and businesses who heard about the community initiative and wanted to get involved.

Kerry is employed by the parish council to carry out litter picks and makes sure that she checks-in with neighbours while she works: “People like to see a familiar face and some of the elderly residents who stop to chat, probably don’t speak to many other people in a day,” she says.

Homes Plus worked with Jackie and other neighbours to thank Kerry for everything she does in the village. About to begin her regular litter pick she was surprised to encounter some of her grateful neighbours, who had been joined by her local neighbourhood officer from Homes Plus.

“It is our mission to make a positive difference and with 19,000 customers, our residents are doing that every day, in communities throughout Staffordshire and Shropshire,” said Chief executive Sarah Boden. “We love to hear about Local Heroes like Kerry and we are delighted to thank them, on behalf of their neighbours.”

Photo caption: Good neighbour and Local Hero, Kerry Parkes.