‘Leave it with me’: Stapleford’s community superhero

NILA 17-10-12 BE 6 Stapleford community hero Richard MacRae.
NILA 17-10-12 BE 6 Stapleford community hero Richard MacRae.
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There may be better places to spend your 41st birthday than at a meeting about a new community centre.

But not for one Stapleford resident, who has dedicated all his spare time to sorting out the problems faced by the people in his part of town.

NILA 17-10-12 BE 3 Rebecca Hames and children Demi and Jayden at her flat in Stapleford.

NILA 17-10-12 BE 3 Rebecca Hames and children Demi and Jayden at her flat in Stapleford.

“Someone’s got to do it,” explained Richard MacRae, who has given up his job as a doorman so he can attend council meetings, police briefings and public exhibitions nearly every night of the week.

From getting potholes in Ilkeston Road repaired, to securing a dog mess bin for a problem alleyway, to travelling across Nottingham just to pick up a baby changing table for Stapleford’s newest community centre – Richard is starting to be seen as a true community hero.

“My phone never stops ringing – it’s gone crazy,” said Richard, who decided to stay at his Ilkeston Road home when daughter Danni was born seven years ago while partner Donna went to work.

But the stay-at-home dad wanted to do anything but stay at home and quickly began taking on neighbours’ problems.

NILA 19-10-12 BE 2 Helen Blanshard from Stapleford simply first.

NILA 19-10-12 BE 2 Helen Blanshard from Stapleford simply first.

“I talk to people and they tell me they’re getting nowhere with the council, no replies from their councillors,” he said.

“I just say to them, ‘leave it with me’ and I go straight to the person to get that particular problem sorted out.”

“When I ring up the council now, I’m sure they say ‘oh no, it’s Richard again’,” he joked.

He has set up a Facebook page with more than 200 members and sends out a regular newsletter, where he lets townsfolk know the latest news in the community and invites people to a number of organised trips out, such as to Skegness, and regular walks where townsfolk can meet and chat.

He is also heavily involved in issues affecting the town, even sporting a homemade banner outside his home against the 450 homes planned for neighbouring Field Farm.

Volunteers are often rounded up by Richard to help elderly neighbours with their gardening.

“If they give you a cup of tea, that’s payment enough for me,” he said.

Just one of the many Stapleford residents he has helped out is Rebecca Hames, whose council flat in Dryden Court was once a community centre.

She moved in to find there was still a wheelchair ramp to her front door and signs on the walls advertising the centre.

Her young son and daughter were tripping over the ramp and youngsters were knocking on the door expecting to find the community centre.

After many unsuccessful calls to the council, she turned to Richard.

“He’s really helped me the past couple of weeks,” she said.

“If I didn’t have him, I would be in a mess.”

The ramp has now been altered and the signs removed and Rebecca is a lot happier.

“He’s just a genuinely nice guy who helps people where he lives,” she said.

Richard also aims to help out local businesses.

Helen Blanshard runs a school uniform shop in Derby Road, which supplies town parents with uniforms at cheaper prices than some of the big name stores.

But she was having trouble getting the word out.

“He’s put words into the right governors’ ears,” she said.

“I’ve spent three years trying to get into one school in Stapleford and Richard has sorted that out.”

Richard explained that the aim was also to save local parents a bit of a cash as well as a trip into Nottingham by making them aware of Helen’ shop, Simply First.

If you have a problem in Stapleford and you don’t know where to turn, get in touch with Richard via the Stapleford Community Group Facebook page or by calling him on 07740344427.