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Community stalwarts from across west Suffolk named in Queen’s New Year’s Honours

PUBLISHED: 09:00 31 December 2014

Keith Paterson, MBE.

Keith Paterson, MBE.

Community stalwarts and unsung heroes across west Suffolk have been recognised for their efforts in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours.

Keith Paterson, 83, from Newmarket, received an MBE for services to promoting information technology to elderly people in the UK.

Described as a “true trail-blazer” in the field, Mr Paterson started helping the over 50s with computers in 1999 at the age of 68 – building his own website silverhairs.co.uk as a tool to help others sort their computer and internet questions and issues. It received 20,000 hits in its first year and now averages 260,000 hits each year.

Speaking yesterday Mr Paterson said he was “obviously very pleased and a little surprised” to receive the honour.

He added: “I really do believe in the importance of older people connecting to the net for numerous reasons but particularly to prevent loneliness, which is increasing as families go their own ways and as many lose a partner and may have many years of living on their own. But I could name a dozen equally important reasons.”

In May 2012 the Rt Hon Francis Maude MP and Maggie Philbin presented Mr Paterson with a Digital Leaders Award for contributing to technological innovation and making a real difference to individuals.

He went on to be named Age UK’s joint Internet Champion of the Year in 2012. He continues to help people in the local community with one-to-one training.

Additionally, he does all he can to raise awareness of his favourite charity, The Oliver Charitable Foundation, and has even performed a sponsored paraglide in Turkey to raise funds for it.

The Reverend Sue Nutt, 69, from Blacksmith Lane, Barnham, said it was a “huge surprise” when she heard she was to receive a British Empire Medal for services to the community in Barnham and Bury St Edmunds.

Working as a Non Stipendiary Anglican priest and a chaplain at St Nicholas Hospice Care in Bury, she said the honour was for the whole community.

She added: “It was a great, huge surprise; I happen to live in this amazing village called Barnham, which is a very small village, but it’s a lovely, lovely community, I know they have all been beavering away at this and I didn’t know.

“It’s a lovely community and I like everyone here does a lot for the community and I feel that this has been given to the community not just for me, because it’s a good place.”

The Rev’d Nutt, who is also chair of the school governors, added: “I think we underestimate village communities. We’re not too big here, which means everyone does something. We have wonderful people, who visit new people, invite them to things, see people with new babies – we still have that sort of community. We’re very lucky.”

Michael Davies, 65, from Station Road, Sudbury, said he also believed his OBE – awarded for services to maritime safety – should go to the whole team, not just himself.

Working as the head of maritime resilience planning and consequence management at the Department of Transport, Mr Davies’ job involves ensuring the smooth running of the UK’s ports and planning against tidal surges, bad weather and even clouds of volcanic ash.

Yesterday, Mr Davies said the honour had been a “bolt from the blue.”

He added: “I’ve been a civil servant for well over 40 years and the whole ethos is to serve and you don’t expect recognition, you just work for the good of the country and to keep the country going. Really it is the department that should celebrate the success, not just me. It’s the efforts of everyone that are really being rewarded here.”

Speaking about his job, Mr Davies said: “You may imagine that over the last 18 months it has been quite challenging. Last year we were knee deep in sea water and expecting our next big storm to come in, so we were running around with the port sector trying to make sure that everything kept running. As I said it’s a team effort to make sure we keep the country running.”

Also acknowledged in west Suffolk was Jo Copsey, a town pastor volunteer from West Row, who received a British Empire Medal for services to policing and community safety in Bury St Edmunds.

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