We set out the challenge - and the results are in for our Unsung Hero of the Year

2020 Unsung Hero of the Year: Community transport provider chairman Gary Christy at FACT. Picture; DAVE HUMPHREY

2020 Unsung Hero of the Year: Community transport provider chairman Gary Christy at FACT. Picture; DAVE HUMPHREY - Credit: Archant

Our Voice of the Fens challenge was to ‘help us find the person or the organisation that you think encapsulates all that’s best about 2020’. Have we found both?

Community transport provider FACT. Picture; DAVE HUMPHREY

Community transport provider FACT. Picture; DAVE HUMPHREY - Credit: Archant

Standing on its own merits the new FACT organisation unarguably captures “all that’s best about 2020”.

While this dreadful virus imprisons us, our freedoms and for many sadly their hearts through the loss of loved ones, the volunteers at FACT immediately responded in coming to the aid of the most vulnerable of our communities.

FACT was one of, if not the very first organisation to announce its emergency shopping and prescription delivery service back in mid-March.

By July £101,393 had been spent on shopping and by October 6,000 individual shops had been made, packaged and delivered, and still it continues.

Donated food at community transport provider FACT. Picture; DAVE HUMPHREY

Donated food at community transport provider FACT. Picture; DAVE HUMPHREY - Credit: Archant


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As of December 9, FACT has done 6,989 shops and spent £163,345.65 in Tesco.

This month the organisation received a commendation from Cambridgeshire County Council as recognition of their additional support to the people of Cambridgeshire during the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Such selfless dedication has also assisted in attracting financial support from Tesco, Jacks, March town council and Co-op to name a few.

Funding and support have allowed further success with its befriending club, sometimes operating under a waiting list.

Community transport provider FACT. Picture; DAVE HUMPHREY

Community transport provider FACT. Picture; DAVE HUMPHREY - Credit: Archant

The community fridge project is another new scheme run in conjunction with Environmental charity PECT, with an aim for communities to share good food that would otherwise go to waste.

Yet another new and heartfelt scheme is festive bags, letting the many still in isolation know they haven’t been forgotten during what for some will be a lonely period.

However, sitting behind the many kind volunteers there is one unsung hero.

Most days will see the new chairman Gary Christy tirelessly working unpaid, often on the less pleasant and thankless side of running such an organisation.

Community transport provider chairman Gary Christy FACT. Picture; DAVE HUMPHREY

Community transport provider chairman Gary Christy FACT. Picture; DAVE HUMPHREY - Credit: Archant

Mr Christy’s appointment as chairman followed the publication of the PKF report which made public the scandal the taxi industry and this paper campaigned to expose for seven years.

Lead campaigner Dave Humphrey said: “Right from the start Gary made some strong promises, which were understandably met with scepticism, yet he honoured them all.

“Over the next 18 months he turned what many believe was a financial leech of public funds into the truly philanthropist organisation we see today.”

“Yet, unlike some more public figures, who I have noticed often make misleading claims, all this is done without any fanfare or self-promotion but through a genuine desire to serve without reward.”

FACT have received a £500 donation from Tesco March to go towards their expenses of supporting the community following the...

FACT have received a £500 donation from Tesco March to go towards their expenses of supporting the community following the pandemic. Picture: NICHOLA CHRISTY/FACT - Credit: Archant

Mr Humphrey added: “I would describe him as a truly positive man who produces positive results for the benefit of all”.

Cllr Mike Shellens, the chairman of the audit committee of Cambridgeshire County Council, oversaw the public debate into the previous FACT administration.

He described Mr Christy as “a breath fresh air- and I am delighted to stay in touch with him and watch how FACT is growing again under his leadership”.

Mr Christy has clearly given the organisation real direction and a solid foundation of ethics previously missing. However, such success would not be possible without many other wonderful volunteers.

FACT launched the FACT Shop & Drop service since the start of the coronavirus lockdown.

FACT launched the FACT Shop & Drop service since the start of the coronavirus lockdown. - Credit: FACT

A recent post on their Facebook page:

“Another busy day at the office, lots of shopping done as always but what was lovely is hearing the shoppers all singing as they brought the shopping in “hi ho hi it’s off to work we go”

If you feel you have something to offer regarding a donation of money, food or even your time and wish to join such a positive and friendly environment please contact FACT on 01354 661234

FACT has been approached to transport people for their COVID-19 vaccinations and people should contact them for assistance getting to the hospitals for their appointments.

FACT will have a community fridge located at their community hub on Martin Avenue in March to help residents in need...

FACT will have a community fridge located at their community hub on Martin Avenue in March to help residents in need access free food. Earlier in the pandemic, FACT also ran a home delivery service for the elderly and vulnerable. Picture: PECT - Credit: Archant

And local businesses – that include the Pet Shop, Factory Outlet, Tesco, Pat Preserves and others - have contributed towards 35 hampers for those members that they felt were vulnerable and would be alone this Christmas.

These will be delivered by Father Christmas.

For 2020, we give you our unsung hero, Gary Christy.

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