LOCAL hero Geraldine Greene was acclaimed as a ‘community champion’ when she took centre stage at the Labour party conference.

Geraldine, current holder of the Bury Woman of the Year title, was thrust before a packed audience of delegates to tell them about her work for the needy in Bury.

Geraldine fought to keep open the Action for Children Re:d Centre in Morley Street when it faced budget cuts. She is also the chairman of Hurdles, a parent-led charity based at the Re:d Centre which offers a support network for hundreds of families with disabled children.

She became involved with Action for Children in Bury seven years ago after she gave up work to care for her grandson Michael, who is autistic.

“If I had known I had to address the main hall, I would have died 100 deaths!” she said. “I had the impression that our people had been invited to a fringe event, so when they spoke about us getting miked up, I did a double take.

“Hazel Blears suddenly asked me how the Government could help us. What a scramble — it was all over before I could give it a great deal of thought.”

Alas, Geraldine had a ‘Cinderella moment’ and missed Gordon Brown’s speech, when she had to rush off home in time for the school bus.

“I am so encouraged that Hurdles has grown into a campaigning organisation which gets listened to and is known in the highest circles,” she said.

“Having the conference in Manchester gave us the chance to button-hole ministers and make our points. Parents’ views are filtered through, and I hope it’s acted upon.”

Geraldine joined health minister Ivan Lewis at the Action for Children stand following her speech to sign the charity’s pledge ‘to be there as long as it takes’ for children.

Mr Lewis, MP for Bury South, said: “Geraldine is not only a hero in terms of the support she provides to her own family. Through her commitment and passion, thousands of families with disabled children in Bury have a better quality of life.”

l A NEW state-of-the-art police control room was used for the first time during last week’s conference.

The facility allowed officers to cover all aspects of the city centre conference 24 hours a day.

With a record 360 CCTV feeds covering all of Greater Manchester, including Bury, it is branded as the most advanced control and command facility in the UK and will used to cover future big events or major incidents.