The AO Stars team, a dedicated group of AO logistics staff who are all part of an in-house personal development programme, have smashed their fundraising target, raising a huge amount for a redevelopment project in Crewe.

The final total of £24,040 was revealed at the Stars graduation evening on 22 January, where the 11 graduates celebrated their achievements. This year, the funds will support the redevelopment of Flag Lane Baths, a former swimming pool, into a vibrant community hub.

Hosted at The Crewe Alexandra Stadium, the evening saw the graduates sit down with family, managers and other key supporters to tell their stories and receive awards for their performance, before handing over to a new cohort of Stars. Jonathan Barnes, Operations Director of the South Cheshire Chamber of Commerce, was also in attendance.

To meet their target of £20,000, the Stars team have been fundraising for over five months – from fun runs and face painting to their flagship charity night in October with flash auctions and a raffle stuffed with fantastic prizes. Since its launch, the Stars programme has raised over £100k for various charities which includes a boost from AO’s own charity, AO Smile.

The Stars programme, launched in 2012 and based in Crewe, sees participants take on two key projects – a commercial project and fundraising for a local charity that is selected by the group themselves. The internal development programme is designed to get the best out of people and includes modules such as business development and team building. It runs every year with a new cohort and is available for all roles in the logistics team.

Becky Lawes, Quality Analyst and Star graduate, said:

“This has been one of the most challenging years of our careers so far, however without the experience we wouldn’t be as well equipped for future challenges. We are overjoyed by the final amount we have managed to raise, and we are excited to continue to support the Flag Lane Baths Project in making a difference in our local community.”

The Flag Lane Baths redevelopment is widely supported by the local community, after The Lighthouse Centre, a local charity, purchased the derelict swimming pool. Previously a target for vandals, the art-deco building will receive a new lease of life when it is renovated into a community centre, with plenty of services and resources for vulnerable people in the community.

Rev David Edwards, Charity Executive Director for the Flag Lane Baths project, said:

“The dedication and passion of the AO Stars towards this cause has been an inspiration to myself and many others involved in the Flag Lane Baths project. This was more than a training programme to them – it was about making a real difference and having a positive impact on the lives of vulnerable individuals in our community.

“On behalf of the entire team, I would like to express heartfelt gratitude to all the Stars and the management at AO. We hope that this is only the beginning of a strong community partnership that will continue to improve the lives of those who live and work in this local area.”

The charity aims to raise £3.5m by September 2021 so the fantastic contribution from the Stars will go a long way to support the redevelopment.