A BAPTIST minister and his wife, who set up Didcot’s youth worker scheme, drugs support group, and food bank, are leaving the town.
Rev Keith Nichols, 53, who received a community heroes award from the High Sheriff of Oxfordshire earlier this year, and wife Anna are moving to Leeds to look at setting up a new church.
Since arriving in Didcot 18 years ago to set up a church on the newly-built Ladygrove estate, the couple have set up numerous schemes to support vulnerable people in the town.
A decade ago, Mr Nichols oversaw the setting up of Train in Didcot to fund a youth worker for the town.
He said: “We were living in Ladygrove estate and could see it was attracting a lot of young families. We saw that in due season that would produce a block of young people and teenagers with little in the way of activities or places of support for them. In partnership with others from Churches Together, we felt it would be a good idea to get something up and running. It has been a great encouragement to see it go from strength to strength.”
The same year, the couple set up Families Against Drugs to help parents cope with children involved in drugs.
Mr Nichols said: "We faced challenges within our own family with our then teenage son, and realised there was a lack of support for families in our position, so we set up the support group.”
Mrs Nichols set up the Didcot Food Bank 18 months ago, which has helped hundreds of local families.
In the first year, it helped 290 adults and 190 children.
Mr Nichols said: “Much of our work has been largely down to Didcot Baptist church in releasing us in terms of time and resources to sustain the projects we have become engaged in.”
The couple are moving closer to their two children Jonathan, 29, and Lisa, 28, plus grandchildren Anya, two, and one-month-old Lucy.
Train youth worker Paul Gander said: “Any charity needs a driving force, and Keith has been that through his ability to lead others to achieve stuff.”
The mayor of Didcot, John Flood, said: "Keith and Anna have done so much for the community that we will miss them very much."