Community figures honoured by the Queen

SERVICES to sport, the wine industry and local government are among the achievements recognised across Suffolk in the New Year's Honours List.Recipients spoke of their surprise and delight at receiving the awards, which are officially announced today.

SERVICES to sport, the wine industry and local government are among the achievements recognised across Suffolk in the New Year's Honours List.

Recipients spoke of their surprise and delight at receiving the awards, which are officially announced today.

James Hehir, chief executive of Ipswich Borough Council for more than 15 years, receives an OBE for services to local government.

Mr Hehir, who lives on the Shotley peninsular, is a key figure in the drive to bring a university to Suffolk.

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He took over as head of the council's administration and staff in 1989 after a career which had seen him working for authorities in Leeds, Colchester and Dartford.

Mr Hehir, who is married with three children, is a football fanatic and was instrumental in the bid to attract the England team to Portman Road last year for their friendly international against Croatia. While at Colchester, he was a player, manager and secretary of Dedham Football Club, in the village where he lived.

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In the past few years, Mr Hehir has been an enthusiastic supporter of the campaign to build a university for Suffolk on a site in Ipswich, a project which is dependent on a funding announcement due in 2005.

Mr Hehir said yesterday: “I was very surprised to receive the award, which I would like to share with my colleagues, councillors, the people of Ipswich and my family.”

David Cordon, of Woolpit, near Bury St Edmunds, receives the MBE for services to his beloved home village.

Mr Cordon, who has helped establish groups and clubs within his community since moving to the area 25 years ago, said: “I was very shocked to hear the news, as it was a big surprise and I had absolutely no idea.

“I suppose I have done quite a bit in the village, but you just do it as part of a commitment to the place you live in.

“But when people think you are worthy of an award like this, it makes you very proud.

“I think collecting the MBE will be a very memorable day, but I will probably feel very nervous. It is not often you meet a member of the Royal family and receive an award.”

Mr Cordon established the renowned Woolpit Festival 18 years ago, propelling it to region-wide significance before resigning as director in 2002.

He also helped form a drama club and conservation group, while playing an instrumental part in securing £418,000 for improvements to the village hall.

Mr Cordon added: “Woolpit is the most wonderful community you could ever live in. It is very supportive, very strong and very vibrant. I can't actually think of another village like it.”

Ray Carter, who lives at Hoxne, near Eye, gets an OBE for services to sport.

Mr Carter, 74, has been involved in county and national schools football for 50 years and is a former chairman of the English Schools Football Association.

He is currently chairman of the games and sports division of the Central Council for Physical recreation and previously spent eight years with Sport England on the panel which decided best use of National Lottery grants.

Married with two children, he became a schoolteacher in Kent in 1954 and became deputy head at Stoke-by-Nayland primary in the 1960s.

For 18 years, until his retirement in 1990, he was head of Stradbroke

High School.

“Anything I may have achieved in schools came through sport and I am now glad to be putting something back.

“It's a great pleasure to see recognition given to grass roots and young people's sport,” he said.

Timothy Melville-Ross, chairman of Investors in People UK, receives a CBE in recognition of his services to workplace learning and development.

Mr Melville-Ross, who lives in Bures, near Sudbury, began his career working with British Petroleum before joining stockbrokers Rowe, Swan and Company.

He has also served with the Nationwide Building Society before becoming director general of the Institute of Directors in 1994.

Mr Melville-Ross is a director of Bovis Homes plc, a trustee of Uppingham School, in Leicestershire, and a member of the council of the University of Essex.

Former Suffolk wine producer Ian Berwick, of Bruisyard, near Framlingham, is honoured with an MBE for his services to the wine industry.

He and wife, Eleanor, established and ran a vineyard at Bruisyard for 30 years before finally hanging up their secaturs a couple of years ago. They produced prize-winning wines able to hold their own against stiff continental competition.

After his retirement in 2002, Mr Berwick wanted to retain links with the small, close-knit band of English wine producers, and continued in his role as general secretary of the UK Vineyards Association, a post he had then held for six years. Before that, he was its chairman.

As well as growing grapes and producing wine at the vineyard, the couple established a shop, a restaurant and a herb garden at the site.

Engineer Brian Morton, of Walberswick, near Southwold, who specialises in helping to preserve historic buildings, receives an MBE for services to heritage.

Mr Morton, a conservation engineer with his company based in Halesworth, said: “I am absolutely delighted to have been awarded this honour.

“I hope that it will help raise awareness of just how important our historic buildings are.

“There are always reasons why old buildings should be pulled down and replaced by modern structures but I travel all over the country trying to find ways of preserving some of our most precious buildings for future generations.”

Mr Morton is involved in the construction of the tower at St Edmundsbury Cathedral, Bury St Edmunds.

He is also chairman of the Southwold Harbour and River Protection group.

Also receiving an MBE is Kathleen Bowerbank, of Bungay.

Miss Bowerbank is the daughter of a director of world-famous bookprinter Clays, based in the north Suffolk town.

Over the years Miss Bowerbank has been a generous benefactor to many charities and good causes in Suffolk and Norfolk. She receives her award for her many charitable services.

Miss Bowerbank has supported a number of initiatives in Bungay including donating £500,000 towards the town's medical centre and £150,000 towards the renovation of Bungay Library.

Peter Franzen, editor of the EADT's sister paper in Norfolk, the Eastern Daily Press, receives the OBE for services to journalism.

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