Dedicated British Empire Medal recipients praised by Countess of Euston for making Suffolk a ‘fantastic’ place to live

British Empire Medals investiture in Euston by Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant Lady Euston. L-R: Lance

British Empire Medals investiture in Euston by Her Majestys Lord Lieutenant Lady Euston. L-R: Lance Cruse, Revd Sue Nutt, Jo Copsey, Lord Lieutenant Lady Euston, Marian Andrews, Judy Gowen and Robert Pegnall - Credit: Archant

The six people were praised at the Lord Lieutenant’s ceremony yesterday.

The “unsung heroes” who make Suffolk the “fantastic” county it is were celebrated yesterday at the British Empire Medal ceremony.

Six people who were honoured by The Queen on New Year’s Day attended the Countess of Euston’s home in west Suffolk where Lady Clare, the Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk and Her Majesty’s representative in the county, thanked each of them for their service to the communities they live in.

For many of the celebrated group it was the first time that receiving the Queen’s honour felt real.

Woodbridge organist and musical director Robert Pegnall said: “It is an incredible honour. At first I thought it was a hoax, I took it to the reverend and he assured me it wasn’t. It definitely feels real now.”

Jo Copsey was honoured for her service to Bury St Edmunds in organising the town pastors, who help those in need after a night out.

She said: “I am here for all the volunteers who give their time to help others. I could not have done it without them. To have the medal pinned on, it starts to feel real for the first time.”

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The ceremony, held in the grand surroundings of Euston Stables, near Fakenham Magna, was attended by the family and friends of the recipients.

The Reverend Sue Nutt and her achievements were well known by Lady Clare before the ceremony, with her earning the award for services to the nearby village of Barnham.

Mrs Nutt said: “I feel I am really representing a lot of people from the community who have worked hard for each other.”

The British Empire Medal, which was revived in 2012 after 20 years, is a civil and military medal for “meritorious” service.

Marion Andrews was handed the medal for services to Saxmundham, after years of service ranging from her role as district councillor to her work securing a free school in the town.

She said she was thankful to Lady Clare for hosting the ceremony at the house,

“I am standing down as councillor this year, and moving to the Pennines to be with my daughter,” she said.

“It was my late husband’s wish that I should be nominated and my friend has worked tirelessly to put me forward.”

Border Force officer Lance Cruse, who works at Felixstowe port, was honoured for his services tackling the illegal trade of protected species.

He said: “It makes me incredibly proud to be here. Since being awarded the medal I have researched my family history and I am joining many of my relatives who were honoured before me, it is great tradition.”

Lady Clare noted that each of the nominees was only being honoured for the “tip of the iceberg” when it came to their work in the community.

This is particularly true for Judy Gowen, who since the 1960s has worked to support and organise the Aldeburgh carnival.

She said: “This is an honour, to be invited to this beautiful house. This medal is not just for me, it recognises the work of many people who make the carnival a success. When I started, the carnival was failing, so we have a come a long way.”

Speaking after the ceremony, Lady Clare said: “It is fantastic to see the people who make Suffolk the incredible place it is to live honoured by The Queen.

“Most of them do not get paid for what they do, they have worked incredibly hard for their communities and Suffolk would not be the same without them.”