Pride of Reading nomination for New Beginnings

A go-getting grandmother on a mission to turn an empty pub into an alcohol-free drop-in centre for homeless people has been nominated for a Pride of Reading Award .

Coley Park’s Grace Gomez aims to reopen The Queen’s Arms in Great Knolly’s Street as a one-stop shop for the homeless and vulnerable who need a hot meal, clothes, toiletries and school uniform for their children.

Mrs Gomez and her husband Joe are leading a team of volunteers to clean-up of the disused pub, and previously put out a heartfelt plea for tradesmen to help with its transformation.

The lease on the pub at 24 Great Knolly’s Street has been taken on by New Beginnings Reading CIO, a new charity set up by Mr and Mrs Gomez and nine trustees.

Putting Mrs Gomez forward for the Volunteer of the Year Award, Deanna Glasford, from Whitley, said: “She has ran a homeless drop-in service every other Sunday for the past few years from her own pocket, and has now taken over a pub to turn it into a non-alcoholic place for the homeless and vulnerable to go.”

Alison Pickford, also from Whitley, added: “This amazing person has given her life to helping the homeless and needy in Reading.”

When told of her Pride of Reading nomination, Mrs Gomez, who works as a part-time admin officer, said: “I am delighted; it is an honour to have been nominated. I don’t really see myself as a volunteer; it is a love and a calling that I have on my heart.”

This article originally appeared in Getreading.