Prince William drops in on community hub initiative

A charity that transformed a derelict pub in North Wales into a community hub got the royal seal of approval during a visit by the Duke of Cambridge.

Brighter Futures supports people in Rhyl, Denbighshire, and has been awarded £56,800 from the Steve Morgan Foundation.

Steve Morgan and his wife Sally joined staff and volunteers at the charity to meet Prince William for the hour-long visit.

The duke said he was hugely impressed at how a derelict space had been given a new lease of life and hoped the partnership model could be rolled out elsewhere.

Shane Owen is the chairperson of Brighter Futures and said the royal visit had massively raised the profile of the facility.

“The support we’ve had from the Steve Morgan Foundation has been absolutely vital,” he said. “It’s not just the funding but the advice and guidance they’ve given us as we’ve grown.

“There’s a real feel-good factor around Rhyl and the royal visit has really helped lift our profile.”

Explaining how Brighter Futures came about Shane said: “From 2013 onwards there were lots of groups in Rhyl doing good work but they were scattered all over the place.

“There was a parent and toddler group, a men’s and women’s shed, a youth group and a disability group for example but we were wasting money because we were all paying out on rent and running costs.

“Rhyl has had its challenges and in 2018 we decided to come together under one roof and formed a consortium while we tried to find a building that we could share between us.”

At the same time a local pub called The Liverpool Arms was forced to close and Brighter Futures was given a 10-year lease.

Charitable status was achieved last year and the Steve Morgan Foundation provided funding for a caretaker as well as match-funding a Welsh government award to help purchase the freehold.

Shane explained: “Through a huge community effort we completely gutted the building and then brought it back to life. Now it’s the hub of the community.”

The charity has been supported by the local police and has been credited with helping reduce anti-social behaviour in the area though partnership working.

The Steve Morgan Foundation recommended Brighter Futures to The Royal Foundation, which prompted the visit by Prince William.

Shane said: “When we were contacted to say Prince William wanted to visit we thought it was a bit of a joke at first. We were in shock. However as soon as he arrived he put everyone at ease.”

The duke was given a tour of the charity’s hub, which includes a sports pitch, allotment, workshop and café.

Shane said: “Prince William had a real interest in people and seemed really impressed. He loved the model and wanted to see it emulated elsewhere. He even planted an apple tree.

“There was a really funny moment when we were showing the duke around the men’s shed and he found a pink watering can that had been left by someone in the youth group. He picked it up and said ‘every men’s shed within the UK should have one of these’ and everyone laughed.

“The visit was reported by the BBC, ITV and various newspapers. Without the support of the Steve Morgan Foundation I think we would have remained as separate groups.”

Steve Morgan said: “It was wonderful to see Prince William take such a genuine interest in the work of Brighter Futures. The Steve Morgan Foundation has been delighted to play a part in its creation and see it go from strength to strength.”



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