Sports stars and community heroes hailed

By Annie Davidson, James Hore, Graham Dines and David LennardCOMMUNITY stalwarts and sports stars from East Anglia are celebrating this morning after being named in the Queen's New Year's Honours list.

By Annie Davidson, James Hore, Graham Dines and David Lennard

COMMUNITY stalwarts and sports stars from East Anglia are celebrating this morning after being named in the Queen's New Year's Honours list.

Jason Leonard, one of England's rugby heroes from the World Cup, has now added an OBE to the MBE he already held.

The Harlequin prop's father, Frank, who lives in Clacton, said he was extremely proud of his son.

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Speaking with his son's World Cup winner's medal by his side, Frank Leonard added: “We are so proud, he has got the MBE and now has gone further.

“He phoned to say he was getting the OBE and he is well happy. Of course it will be nice if we can all get down to the palace again - it's really nice, we saw the Queen, but did not meet her.

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“He is so committed, he trains every day of the year, including Christmas Day, and still enjoys his rugby so much. He told me the say he stops enjoying his rugby will be the day he quits.”

The honour ends a fantastic year for Jason Leonard, who became the most capped rugby player of all time with his appearance against France during the semi-final of the World Cup.

Fellow rugby World Cup winner, flanker Martin Corry, whose wife, Tara, comes from Ixworth and who was married two years ago at St Edmundsbury Cathedral, was also given an MBE.

The sporting theme continued with an MBE for Witham swimmer James Gibson, who won a gold medal in the 50-metre breaststroke at this year's World Championships.

Gerald Wallington-Hayes was given an MBE for services to the community in Harwich after more than 25 years of voluntary work.

Mr Wallington-Hayes, of Highfield Avenue, Dovercourt, is chairman of Harwich Crime Prevention Panel and district co-ordinator for the Neighbourhood Watch after helping found it locally in 1982.

As president of Harwich and Dovercourt Gardening Club, Mr Wallington-Hayes was instrumental in bringing the BBC radio programme, Gardeners' Question Time, to Harwich - although there was a 25-year gap between his first request and the subsequent visit.

A former purser in the Merchant Navy, Mr Wallington-Hayes, 73, has also volunteered for the North Essex Mental Health Partnership since 1976, is honorary vice-president of Harwich and Dovercourt Cricket Club and vice-president of the town's swimming club.

Mr Wallington-Hayes, who has been married to Peggy for 51 years and who has two children and four grandchildren, said: “It is an honour and a privilege.

“I accept it as a reward for the kind of work I have been doing since 1975. I can only assume the police nominated me as I do a lot of work with them.”

Inspector Cheryl Callow, of Braintree police, was celebrating being awarded the Queen's Police Medal.

Insp Callow, 44, who has been in the force for 26 years, said she was “overwhelmed” and burst into tears when she opened the letter containing the good news.

“I am obviously very, very pleased and truly honoured. It is wonderful news,” she added.

Insp Callow, who lives with her partner of 18 years Moira Owers, an inspector in Dunmow, has worked on hate crime, gay and transexual issues and a review of the training programme for probationary police officers.

Insp Callow, who lives near Chelmsford, said she dedicated the medal to her parents, Ray and Betty, and Moira, and added she had been supported by her colleagues.

“I don't think the award is just for one person, it is for the service that you serve,” she said.

More than 40 years' work for the environment have resulted in an MBE for Patrick Ripton of Collingwood Road, Witham.

Mr Ripton, 62, began work for the Essex River Board in 1959, which is now known as the Environment Agency, and works mainly in pollution control as an environment protection officer.

“It is good to have the recognition of that sort. I have always worked with a wide range of people and been dedicated and enthusiastic in what is quite a difficult job, but an interesting job,” he said.

“I have loved every minute of it. When it comes down to it, it is about protecting the environment and protecting people.”

Father-of-four Michael Littlewood who celebrated his 53rd birthday yesterday received an OBE in the honours list.

Mr Littlewood, from Chelmsford, works as a group manager for the Department for Constitutional Affairs and is responsible for the county and crown courts in Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire.

He said it was a “big surprise and a big honour” to be given the OBE for services to the Department for Constitutional Affairs.

“It is a job I enjoy and an interesting department to work in. I really appreciate it and am very honoured. Hopefully, it is a mark of the contribution I have tried to make to the court service over 36 years,” added Mr Littlewood.

Peter Clements, 63, from West Mersea, was awarded an MBE for his services to the community.

The insurance broker said he wished the award could be given jointly because he would share it with his wife Elizabeth.

Mr Clements was the man behind the creation of the Mersea Centre in the 1980s - a vital community resource that holds salsa classes, drama groups, bingo, the bridge club and squash to name just a few.

The 63-year-old, of Firs Road, said: “I have been in a fortunate position of being able to help lead a number of fine people and feel very privileged to know them.

“I have accepted this award in the certain knowledge that I simply had the honour of being noticed and I am very grateful for that.

“It is a shame they can't give them jointly. My wife has been with me and it has all been done together - I wish we could go to the palace and do it arm-in-arm.”

Mr Clements was also involved in the creation of the floating causeway to the island and worked as a fundraiser for St Helena Hospice in Colchester.

Roger Cole, from Harwich, was awarded an MBE for services to partnership working.

He thanked his colleagues for their work at Colchester company Pelcombe, which works in partnership with agencies such as Job Centre Plus to get people back into employment.

The 61-year-old said: “I just feel very humbled by it and am genuinely thrilled and also feel very, very proud that the team I work with should be recognised in this way.”

Essex county councillor Kay Twitchen, cabinet member with responsibility for waste and recycling, was awarded an OBE.

She said: “I am delighted to receive this honour, which reflects all the work that the council has carried out in recent years on the environmentally-sensitive disposal of waste.

“This is not the most glamorous activity I have ever been involved in, but it is vital for the future of the county.”

Dr Ian Gibson, a general medical practitioner, from Braintree, was also awarded an MBE for his services to healthcare.

David Farrow, a divisional officer with the Metropolitan Special Constabulary, from Colchester, was given an MBE for services to the police.

Derek Moon, secretary of the Sugar Association of London, from South Woodham Ferrers, was awarded an MBE for services to the sugar industry.

Malcolm Park, director and secretary of Intellect, from Thaxted, was given an MBE for services to the postal industry.

Keith Skues, a member of the original team of disc jockeys who launched BBC Radio 1 in 1967, has been made an MBE for services to broadcasting and charity.

Mr Skues, 64, from Horning, has become a legend of the airwaves and now presents a late-night show on local radio across the Eastern Counties, taking in BBC Radio Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridge.

He said: “Gobsmacked was the word when I found out. Since then it's been a mixture of delight and surprise, there are many more people out there more worthy than I am.

“You see people receive these honours over the years, but never think of them being offered to you.”

Mr Skues has been involved with a host of charities over the years, including Youth Clubs UK, SCOPE and Lord's Taverners.

Kenneth Wilding, a stalwart of the Royal British Legion in Suffolk for half a century and who was one of the driving forces behind making the annual poppy appeal in Ipswich and county a success, has been awarded an MBE.

Mr Wilding, who has lived in Martlesham Heath since the end of the war, joined the Royal British Legion in 1953 and served as the chairman of the Kesgrave branch for 50 years.

He was poppy appeal organiser for the east of the county for 35 years and for 14 years was president of the Suffolk county Legion.

Mr Wilding was born in Woodbridge and during the Second World War served in the Royal Army Medical Corps field hygiene section, seeing active service under Field Marshal Montgomery in the north African campaign against Rommel and then taking party in the invasion of Italy.

He worked as a housing surveyor for the former Deben Rural District Council and its successor body, Suffolk Coastal District Council.

Apart from his devotion to the Royal British Legion, Mr Wilding was also involved with the charity Age Concern.

“I have devoted my spare time to looking after the needs of the elderly and those who fought for their country, but I never expected when I started 50 year's ago that I would receive any recognition for it,” said Mr Wilding.

A keen fisherman who still moors a boat on the River Deben, he has been involved actively with the Woodbridge Regatta Association since 1936, initially as secretary and treasurer and remains its president.

Mr Wilding, whose wife, Wendy, died just three days before they were due to celebrate their diamond wedding in 1999, has two children, three grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Colin Goddard, a former special constable who has been a member of the security team at Sizewell B since its earliest days, has been awarded an MBE.

Mr Goddard, 62, from Halesworth, said it had been “like a bolt out of the blue” when he first received details of the award.

“I could not believe it at first and thought someone was playing a practical joke on me,” he added. “I am both honoured and delighted to have been chosen for such an award.”

A married man with two grown-up sons, Mr Goddard was given the honour for his services to the nuclear industry.

He has been a member of the security team at Sizewell since the mid-1980s and has worked during the public inquiry and building of the country's only PWR nuclear installation.

As well as working in the security industry, Mr Goddard also served with the Special Constabulary in Suffolk for 25 years.

Elizabeth Stone, an administrative officer with the Department of Work and Pensions, from Beccles, was also given an MBE.

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