Gallery: British Empire Medals awarded to community stalwarts

MEN and women were honoured for their tireless community work and dedication when they were presented with the British Empire Medal yesterday.

Set in the backdrop of Helmingham Hall, the Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk, Lord Tollemache presented seven people with the BEM as part of the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

For 35 years Gloria Maden has coached netball and works at the Civil Service Club in Ipswich. On first hearing about the medal, Mrs Maden said: “I could not believe it - I thought it was a hoax. I’m pleased for everyone to be recognised, it’s been a wonderful day.”

Musician Mark Rodman, 50, has been battling a rare nervous system disease for the past 20 years but has continued to work at churches and schools in Newmarket: “When I first read the letter I had to read it eight to nine times to know it was me.”

Eric Dockerill, 66, of Ipswich, was honoured for his long service with St John Ambulance. Christine Bird, 76, received the medal for community work in Eye and Brome. Orford’s Laura Gillespie, 46, has helped the community with her work in the local garage for 26 years. Shirley Barrett, 52, works for an East Anglian traveller’s charity. David Turner, 74, of Hitcham, has edited two parish magazines for the past 30 years.

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Lord Tollemache, speaking at his family’s historic home, said: “What has happened today is the culmination of all the hard work and commitment which you have put into your lives on behalf of others. And this is has now been recognised by the Queen to show how very special you all are and how hugely appreciated what you have done is to so many people where you live and work.”

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