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Delia heads the Suffolk list in the Birthday Honours

Delia Smith opening a new food bank in Stowmarket in 2012.
Delia Smith opening a new food bank in Stowmarket in 2012.

The Queen’s Birthday Honours published today recognise 1,109 people from all walks of life, from television celebrities to ordinary people who have supported their local communities,

Cookery writer and former TV chef Delia Smith, from Stowmarket, joins the Order of Companion of Honour in recognition of her contribution to cooking and cookery education in this country.

Bernard Tickner on his 93rd birthday
Bernard Tickner on his 93rd birthday

Delia said: “From day one I received so much encouragement and enthusiasm from the people who responded to what I was trying to do. This honour is an even deeper affirmation.

“I feel proud to have received it but also humble as I am quite certain it belongs to all of them as well as me.”

Delia left school at 16 with only one O-level and taught herself to cook using library books, but she was taken on as a cookery writer by the Daily Mirror Magazine in 1969 and first appeared on BBC Television four years later.

Many books and television series later, she received an OBE in the 1995 New Year’s Honours and in November 2009 had a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

YOPEY founder Tony Gearing has the MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours 2017
YOPEY founder Tony Gearing has the MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours 2017

Many recipients have had a tough time keeping their honour secret since receiving the Cabinet Office letter last month and none more so than Bernard Tickner, best known today for creating Fullers Mill Garden at West Stow, which attracts 4,500 visitors a year.

He receives the MBE for ‘services to horticulture and wildlife in Suffolk’ and said: “I was first told in early May and not being able to tell anyone has been so difficult, especially as I enjoyed my own 93rd birthday celebrations a couple of weeks ago.

“I have loved living in this part of Suffolk and feel very fortunate to have been able to work and live here for as long as I have.

“I am humbled that Her Majesty considers me as deserving of the title and I look forward to meeting her to thank her in person.”

Tim Fogden, far right, with his team showing off how much they raised in 2013 in front of a World War One Holt 75 tractor.
Tim Fogden, far right, with his team showing off how much they raised in 2013 in front of a World War One Holt 75 tractor.

The announcement coincides with the launch of his biography, A Scratch in the Soil, on Tuesday in which Bernard looks back on his military service in East Africa, his time with Greene King as head brewer and creator of its award-winning Abbot Ale, a prominent role in the creation of Suffolk Wildlife Trust’s Lackford Lakes Reserve with gifts of land and finance and 60 years as a plantsman and maker of the garden at Fullers Mill.

In 2004, he and his wife Bess formed a charitable trust, The Fullers Mill Trust, to promote scientific, horticultural, botanical, and education research and ecological objects including conservation of nature, improvement of horticultural methods, vocational training and enjoyment to the public.

An MBE also goes to Tony Gearing, the founder of Suffolk Young People of the Year, from Bury Road, Stradishall.

He held his first Young People of the Year awards in Hertfordshire in 2005. Over the following years he expanded the campaign to a dozen English counties and the whole of Scotland.

Brian Hawes, watch commander at Elmswell Fire Station, has been awarded The Queen's Fire Service Medal in the Queen's Birthday Honours list
Brian Hawes, watch commander at Elmswell Fire Station, has been awarded The Queen's Fire Service Medal in the Queen's Birthday Honours list

The movement became known as ‘YOPEY’ – pronounced yop-ee – and its awards are ‘Oscars’ for young people who give to others. It became a charity in 2012 of which Tony is the chief executive.

A joint Suffolk and Norfolk YOPEY was held in 2009 and the following year Suffolk had its own.

“I haven’t achieved this alone,” said Tony. “This MBE is for all the young people who have taken part in YOPEYs, whether or not they went on to be shortlisted for one of our lavish awards ceremonies. They are all winners!

“It is also for all the friends I roped in to help.”

Tim Fogden also sees his BEM, for services to charity and the community in Bury St Edmunds, as a team award.

The 88-year-old has been involved in organising the event for 26 years, during which time it has raised £500,000 for St Nicholas Hospice Care, churches and other local charities.

He says when he got the letter he thought ‘why me?’ and says: “It’s more for the team I’m involved with who run Euston Rural Pastimes.

“In the beginning I seemed to be doing more than I do now. I hand a bit more over to others.”

The show has certainly grown. Tim recalls having to put out an appeal on radio because they had no heavy horses at the first one.

“We got a single Suffolk Punch,” he recalled. “Now we get 50 or 60 and all breeds.”

Another BEM recipient with an agricultural connection is David Hodge who has received it for services to the community in Cockfield.

David said his reaction on receiving the honours letter was ‘shock, horror and surprise’

At 84 he says he is now only the ‘overseer’ of the family’s 985-acre farming business but in the nomination he was described as having always pushed for the economic viability of Babergh District, for which he became a councillor in 1974, and championed housing needs in the area.

He also gave land for Cockfield’s rectory, school playing field, village hall and carpark, and began a computer literacy programme for older people in the village 20 years ago.

The classes are still going and David recalls: “We started it because not many people were computer literate at that time. The first event was in the village hall but then we moved it to a spare building here so we could keep all the kit in one place.”

Another Suffolk honoured was Wendy Phillips, of Stowmarket, who got an OBE for services to international development.

When Anne Mason received her letter for her BEM for services to the Friends of Thetford Forest and heritage in Suffolk she said she was ‘overwhelmed and honoured’.

Ms Mason chairs the forest volunteer group who were set up in 1995 and has been a freelance heritage consultant who has managed and developed about 15 projects in the area since 2000.

How did she keep the award a secret? She said: “Also this year I had to keep secret that Friends of Thetford Forest had been given the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in June this year too, so I am getting quite good at it.”

Janet Kerridge from Walsham Le Willows was given a BEM for services to her community.

Miss Kerridge has worked through the village’s St Mary The Virgin Church since she was a child and had, until this year, been Church Secretary since 1973,

She said: “I was very surprised and have been congratulated by my friends, about 12 people wrote letters to help me get this award and that was the most surprising thing.”

Ann Squirrel, of Great Finborough, said about her BEM: “I was shocked, proud and humbled to be given this award, other people are doing so much as well but I am absolutely honoured.”

Ann has been helping disabled people since she was 12 years old and got involved with the Mid-Suffolk Axis support group when they started 30 years ago by helping severely disabled members. She then started to co-ordinate activities including trips to Europe and Ireland.

She continued: “I just did these things not for praise, though it is very nice, I did them and they just became part of my life.

“But I couldn’t have done it without the support from my family and friends who helped me help others.”

A Queen’s Fire Service Medal for Distinguished Service goes to Brian Hawes, watch commander at Elmswell Fire Station.

He receives the honour for displaying ‘outstanding leadership, professionalism and community spirit’ in his 36 years as a retained firefighter and officer.

Brian joined Suffolk Fire and Rescue on September 21, 1980 as a retained firefighter aged 18 and for many years has been in charge of the retained fire station in Elmswell.

During his time in charge of the station, Brian has arranged fire service visits for schools and taught Great Fire of London history lessons, as well as promoted fire safety campaigns at village events.

For many years, Brian has also organised numerous activities including a monthly bingo night, an annual car wash, community open days with police colleagues who are now based at the shared fire and police station and an annual emergency services open and fun day held at the station.

He has also arranged Christmas Eve bag-packing and charity collection at the local Co-op store and most recently has supported the community, with the parish council, to set up a Citizens Advice Bureau surgery in the village.

The events organised by Brian usually raise around £8,000 a year, which is donated to a variety of charities and good causes at an annual prize giving and cheque presentation evening.

Brian’s commitment was recognised locally in 2016 when Elmswell Fire Station received the Colonel Probert Award for Community Initiative from Community Action Suffolk.

He said: “I couldn’t believe I’ve received this honour.

“Reading through past recipients, there’s been some very high ranking officers, so it is a real honour.

“It’s been a tough job to keep it quiet! Receiving the honour is because of the fund-raising activities we’ve done at the station for the past 10 years and we’ve just been getting on with it thinking it’s going unnoticed but obviously it doesn’t.

“If the work we do means one person goes home, tests their smoke alarm and has to change it, in theory that is one life saved.

“But I couldn’t receive this award without the crew behind me, backing me and supporting me. It might be my honour but I’ve got the utmost pride in my station and the way we do things.”

Mark Hardingham, chief fire officer for Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service, said: “At a time when it is increasingly difficult to recruit and retain on-call firefighters, and the expectations placed on those officers who lead them is ever increasing, Brian is a shining light in the service and an example to his colleagues old and new.

“Of course there are other long-serving on-call officers who have demonstrated similar commitment; what sets Brian apart is the way he has voluntarily committed his time and effort to personally lead the station in fundraising for local community groups and educating young people in the community.”

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