Community heroes, supporters of the armed forces, and a retired police officer are among the Suffolk people recognised in today’s New Year’s Honours.

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Alongside star names from the world of sport and the arts, around a dozen people from the county have received prestigious accolades.

Ann Garrod, of Aldeburgh, has been honoured with a British Empire Medal (BEM), for her 45 years of working with the Suffolk Coastal branch of the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families’ Association (SSAFA).

Ann, who also celebrates her birthday on New Year’s Day, said: “I’m just pleased that I could help so many people. I don’t really think that I deserved the honour.”

Rather than seeking any personal glory from her BEM, Ann – who also won the Armed Forces award at this year’s Stars of Suffolk event – hopes to use it to gain more publicity for her beloved SSAFA.

“A lot of people don’t realise that even if they’ve only done one day in the forces, they are eligible for our help, we are always there for them,” she said.

Alison Russell is already renowned in the village of Chelsworth, between Ipswich and Sudbury, for helping to organise one of Britain’s most celebrated open garden events, and for devoting more than four decades of service to the local church.

But now her work in her community has been recognised much further afield with a BEM.

Mrs Russell, 72, has lived in Chelsworth for 46 years and her two sons, Adrian and Peter, grew up in the village.

She was a teacher at Bildeston Primary School for more than 30 years where she taught two generations of many local families. However the popular local figure is equally well known for her voluntary commitments in the area.

For 21 years, she organised Chelsworth Open Gardens, which started in 1969 and was the country’s first event of its kind.

She said she was proud and humbled to receive a letter informing her she had been chosen to receive a BEM for services to the community.

She said: “It is a very friendly and united community in Chelsworth and whenever there’s an event, people are always happy to come along and support it. I am amazed and very thrilled that anyone would put me forward for a BEM.”

Retired Suffolk police sergeant Neil Boast, formerly of the Suffolk police licensing and sexual exploitation team (LASER), will be made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the New Year’s Honours for services to policing.

As well as his work during his time with the force, heading up a unit dealing with prostitution and liquor licensing issues, he also voluntarily gave his time to other causes.

This has included being part of the Town Pastors scheme, which aims to help and show concern to anyone who needs assistance during nights out and to offer practical help.

Mr Boast has also used his knowledge of motorcycles to volunteer as an assessor for the bikes used by Service by Emergency Rider Volunteers (SERV), which transport vital medical items.

The 51-year-old, who lives in Woodbridge and is married to Sally, said: “It’s the hardest secret I’ve ever had to keep. When I opened up the envelope I thought someone was playing a joke on me.”

Susan Joan Lloyd, from Haverhill, has been made an MBE for services to education in today’s honours, while Peasenhall’s Kevin Brendan Shakeshaft, Higher Officer, Criminal Investigation Directorate at HMRC, is also honoured. He is made an MBE for services to criminal investigation, officer safety training, and voluntary service to the community in Suffolk.

A dedicated bell ringer for more than 50 years has also been recognised in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours.

Elizabeth Baines, better known as Betty, has dedicated her free time to ringing since the age of 11, and now teaches and encourages new recruits and raises funds for charity.

The 67-year-old, from Walcot Green in Diss, received a letter informing her she was to be made an MBE in November, but was sworn to secrecy until it was made public.

“It’s just fantastic – I couldn’t believe it, it’s such an honour.”

An entrepreneur who has helped create thousands of jobs for women and disadvantaged groups has said she is “absolutely delighted” to be made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE).

Bev Hurley, from Newmarket, is one of the country’s leading experts on growing and sustaining woman-owned businesses, having set-up Enterprising Women and the Norfolk Network.

In her current role as chief executive of consultancy firm the YTKO Group, Ms Hurley has spearheaded two public-sector programmes that have supported around 20,000 people and drawn praise from business secretary Vince Cable.

She said: “My reaction was one of utter amazement. I was absolutely delighted, thrilled, shocked and surprised in equal measure.”

Sally Mann, also from Newmarket, is awarded the BEM for services to the community in Stetchworth.

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