Meet the community hero who stepped in to lead funeral services during pandemic

Saying goodbye to a loved one is one of the most difficult things we have to go through in life - and coronavirus restrictions have brought heartbreaking challenges for many.

Thursday, 11th March 2021, 7:00 am

When Michael Tax, who is a member of the Blackpool Reformed Jewish Congregation, heard about the synagogue facing a problem over how to conduct funerals, he knew he had to

help.

The congregation's 80-year-old Rabbi lives in Liverpool and was unable to travel due to tier restrictions.

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Michael Tax, who has been recognised for his services within the local Jewish community
Michael Tax, who has been recognised for his services within the local Jewish community

So Michael had training so he could lead the funeral services, providing incredible support to synagogue members during difficult circumstances.

Michael, who also holds a number of volunteer roles with Blackpool Scouts, has now been recognised for his services within the local Jewish community with a commissioners

commendation for services to the community by West Lancashire Scouts.

Michael was also praised for acting quickly to move synagogue activities online as lockdown started last March, and ensuring all members had access to tablets and smart devices.

Chris Rumley, who has been praised for his volunteering work

He offered tuition to use the devices and also found time to deliver prayers books and assist people in need with daily tasks such as shopping.

He said: “I had the technical skills that were needed to support the community and so I did what I could.”

Speaker of the House of Commons, Sir Lindsay Hoyle MP, praised Michael’s efforts as ‘selfless’, saying he is “somebody who has put others before himself on so many occasions in the

last 12 months in a way that has promoted togetherness and strengthened community ties when they might otherwise have weakened.”

Another Blackpool Scout volunteer who was honoured with a commissioners commendation during an on line ceremony last month was Chris Rumley.

When Chris was made redundant in the first lockdown last year, he decided to use his time volunteering.

Chris, who already supported 1st Norbreck Scouts, began volunteering five days a week at Fleetwood Together, a foodbank helping around 1,200 people per week in Wyre.

Using his organisation and IT skills from his job, he organised the foodbank’s supplies and record systems electronically.

He said: “I couldn’t just do nothing. I recognised there was a problem, and I did what was needed.”

When the second lockdown began, Chris had a new job and was working full time from home.

He began manning the referral hotline for the foodbank, sometimes being on call up to 16 hours a day, and can often be found collecting food from supermarkets and driving parcels to

those in need in the evenings.

The first day Chris has had away from supporting the foodbank was the night he was presented with his award.

Chris’s efforts were honoured on the night by Craig Turpie, chairman of the World Scout Committee, who said: “Chris has shown an enormous level of dedication and commitment to those

in need and his efforts have helped a great many people during these difficult times.

“He is true community hero and a worthy recipient of this award.”

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