A charity helping people through hardship has been recognised in this year’s Kings Awards for Voluntary Service. 

High Wycombe Central Aid Society started 117 years ago by the founder of Wycombe Abbey School Dame Frances Dove to help struggling people in the town.

Now the charity’s activities focus on the Central Aid Furniture Project, which gives a new lease of life for donated furniture and appliances, and a furniture warehouse shop open to the public. 

The charity checks, tests and cleans each donated item before distributing them to homes in need across Buckinghamshire.

Bucks Free Press: The look inside the furniture warehouse shop on West Richardson StreetThe look inside the furniture warehouse shop on West Richardson Street (Image: High Wycombe Central Aid)

Chair of the Trustees Margaret Stagg said: “It is a great honour and a wonderful way to recognise the thousands of hours our volunteers have put into assisting others in need throughout Buckinghamshire.

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“Each year we help furnish hundreds of empty homes or homes suffering poverty, illness, escaping abuse and danger, or just not capable of self-support for whatever reason.  For example, we replace damaged appliances or broken beds, provide food storage and cooking facilities, kitchen starter packs, curtains and bedding. Cots are given for babys and desks where children can study. We do come across some pretty awful living conditions which is sad to see. No area is exempt.”

The group and its volunteers received the Kings Award for Voluntary Service, which is the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the country and equivalent to an MBE.

Bucks Free Press: A happy customer receiving furniture from the charity's Rob Tapley.A happy customer receiving furniture from the charity's Rob Tapley. (Image: High Wycombe Central Aid)

Central Aid relies on sales of furniture, homeware and electricals to the public out of its warehouse on West Richardson Street in High Wycombe.

Popular with bargain hunters, the warehouse is open to the public Monday to Saturday, with a 25 percent discount available for anyone in receipt of benefits upon registration or 10 percent off for registered supporters.

General manager Stuart Allen said he was “amazed” at the dedication of its volunteers.

He said: “For some volunteers it’s about staying active mentally and physically, others the social involvement, giving back to society practically, or using technical and professional skills, others benefit from work experience or a reference to take the next step in their lives. 

“In my time here, we have had several volunteers successfully employed by the charity. It’s changed lives for the better – clients and volunteers. That’s our mission.”

Central Aid is now looking for more low cost or free large space for its operations.