A charity leader from Huddersfield has been honoured by King Charles III as part of his coronation celebrations.

Kate France, who set up and runs the charity Uniform Exchange across Kirklees, has been named one of just 500 Coronation Champions throughout the UK after more than 5,000 names were put forward for the honour.

This means Kate will receive a signed certificate from The King and Queen Consort and has been invited to the Coronation Concert at Windsor Castle on Sunday, May 7. The line-up released so far includes Take That, Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, Italian opera singer Andrea Bocelli and Welsh bass-baritone Sir Bryn Terfel.

The awards are organised by the Royal Voluntary Service and a spokesperson said: “The awards celebrate extraordinary volunteers across the country who have been contributing to their communities.

“Thousands of people aged from 14 to 103 from all over the UK and supporting a range of causes were nominated and from these nominations 500 volunteers have been hand-picked by a judging panel presided over by the Queen Consort and crowned Coronation Champions.”

Kate France

Kate said: “It’s a wonderful honour but the charity is far more than just me. I have a wonderful team of staff and volunteers who go above and beyond every day to make sure people get the school uniform they need.

“It makes so much difference to children to have the proper school uniform. It gives them a sense of pride and belonging and they are more likely to learn and engage with school, improving their chances in life.

“But we also want people to think about making secondhand their first choice. School uniform has an awful lot of plastic in it and we don’t want to see a single item of school uniform being thrown into landfill in Kirklees.”

Kate founded Uniform Exchange in 2011 and it has been a registered charity since March 2018.

It provides free school uniform for thousands of families struggling to afford it each year, especially in the most deprived areas across Kirklees, and to virtually all refugee and asylum-seeker children arriving in the area.

Uniform Exchange founder Kate France (third right) and volunteers sorting out winter coats for schools

It’s a massive community effort with people across Kirklees donating school uniform to the charity through dozens of collection points such as in supermarkets and libraries which volunteers collect from and then clean and redistribute to families in need.

All 182 schools in Kirklees are involved in the project and they are encouraged to hold their own pop-up uniform giveaway days to make every item of school uniform as sustainable as possible.

Uniform Exchange has already seen an upsurge in demand so far this year and expects to help 7,000 children in Kirklees in 2023, distributing around 70,000 items of school uniform.

Every item that goes to Uniform Exchange is reused or recycled which makes it more environmentally sustainable by keeping it out of landfill and Uniform Exchange kept around 50 tonnes out of tips last year.

Uniform Exchange (https://www.uniform-exchange.org/) always needs more volunteers.

If you want to volunteer then please call 07955 724789 or email info@uniform-exchange.org

  • Written by ANDY HIRST who runs his own Yorkshire freelance journalism agency AH! PR (https://ah-pr.com/) specialising in press releases, blogging, website content and copywriting.