Suffolk and Essex: New Year honours for our community heroes

CIVIC leaders, charity workers, community heroes and health officials are among those from Suffolk and Essex recognised in the New Year Honours list today.

John Griffiths, leader of St Edmundsbury Borough Council, has been handed an MBE for services to Local Government in Suffolk.

Mr Griffiths, 57, from Ixworth, who is also group leader of the Suffolk Conservatives, was first elected as a borough councillor for Ixworth in 1997.

He is the son of Eldon Griffiths, the MP for Bury St Edmunds from 1964 until he retired in 1992.

On receiving his honour, Mr Griffiths said he was delighted by the news. “It is a great unexpected honour,” he said. “I am delighted, but it is also a tribute to my colleagues.

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“My fellow councillors, officers and staff, who work very hard to make life better for people in west Suffolk.”

Mr Griffiths is a managing director of financial services company Lynton Bardwell Limited and residential property company CLBES Limited.

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Ron Beadle, 69, of Rendlesham, near Woodbridge, has been awarded an MBE for voluntary service to St John Ambulance in Suffolk and London District.

He has spent nearly 40 years dispensing first aid and helping those in need.

Mr Beadle, who is a member of Framlingham St John, said: “When I first got the letter from the cabinet office [notifying him of his MBE] I thought someone was pulling my leg.

“It’s a nice honour to get and it was a big surprise. I enjoy doing it [volunteering]. It used to be more manic when I was in London because of all the events we had to attend, it is a little bit more laid back up here.”

Mr Beadle, who worked in engineering, spent 31 years in the Addiscombe and East Croydon division before moving to Suffolk in 2003 with this wife Ann, so they could be nearer to their son Robin, who also lives in Rendlesham.

Dr Elizabeth Hall, 70, of Ireton Road, Colchester, has received an OBE for services to healthcare and the community.

The St Helena Hospice, based at Myland Hall in Highwoods, Colchester, has played an important role in the community for more than 25 years and Dr Hall has been instrumental in its foundation and success.

She was chair of the founding committee which was set up in 1979 and the hospice was opened in 1985 with Dr Hall as the medical director – a position she held until 2003.

Dr Hall said she was delighted with the award, but could only accept it on behalf of all the people who have supported the project.

“The hospice is one of those things where you can say that something positive came out of anger – I was angry about how people were treated and I wanted to change that,” said Dr Hall.

“I have seen St Helena grow enormously and it continues to do great things. It makes a positive difference to people’s lives and sets an example that people can be cared for better.”

Dr Hall, who is married to Chris and has four children and eight grandchildren, continues to be active in the community and is a medical advisor to the children’s charity Banardo’s and is a trustee for Beacon House which supports homeless and vulnerable people.

Meanwhile, Suffolk GP Richard West has been awarded an MBE for services to healthcare.

Dr West, 41, has been a partner at Woolpit Health Centre for the past 13 years, having moved to Suffolk in 1994 following his medical training in Manchester.

A chairman of the Dispensing Doctors’ Association, Dr West spoke out against the Government’s Pharmacy white paper proposals for dispensing doctors in 2008.

Dr West, who lives in Woolpit with his wife Jane and children Thomas, 11, and Rebecca, 12, said he found it hard to believe he had been handed such an honour.

“I feel greatly honoured and extremely humbled by the fact someone has decided to nominate me,” he said. “It feels slightly surreal.”

Dr West has also been chairman of the registrars committee of the British Medical Association’s General Practitioners Committee and chairman of the Suffolk Local Medical Committee.

“I enjoy being able to help patients and doing something to help people through their illness,” he said.

Marion Rowland, of Low Road, Dovercourt, has received an OBE for services to young people and to the community.

As the founder of Teen Talk, a free and confidential advice service for 11 to 25-year-olds, Mrs Rowland has transformed the lives of young people in Harwich.

“Harwich is a deprived area and when I set up Teen Talk 12 years ago there was nothing like this for young people,” she said.

“We will speak to young people about anything for as long as they want and try to help. We also hold workshops to help them with skills such as cookery, numeracy and health.”

Mrs Rowland, who is married to Roger and has two children and six grandchildren, said she could not believe it when she opened the letter and discovered she was going to be awarded an OBE.

“I had to keep reading it to make sure,” she said. “I think I’ll open a bottle of champagne with my family to celebrate.”

As well as running Teen Talk, Mrs Rowland is an assessor for the Princes Trust which gives practical and financial support to young people to help them develop confidence, motivation and education.

John Sparkes, 78, of Bures Road, Bures, was awarded an OBE for voluntary service to special needs education and adult services.

As chairman of Autism Anglia, based in Colchester, Mr Sparkes has overseen a period of substantial growth at the charity which is now a significant employer with nearly 400 people on its payroll.

Doucecroft School, which is run by the charity, now has about 60 students and provides residential and community care to more than 70 adults, with establishments in Essex and Norfolk.

Mr Sparkes, who is married to Meriel and has a daughter and three grandchildren, said: “I was delighted to get this award, I’ve had a good working life and I believe in giving something back to the community.

“When I retired as a chartered accountant in 1996 I was appointed as a trustee of the charity, which was then the Essex Autistic Society, and I became chairman in 2003.

“I’ve worked hard as a volunteer and as long as I’ve got something useful to give I will continue to do it.”

Dr Michael John Field, who lives in Lowestoft and has been chairman of the corporation of Great Yarmouth College for several years, also received an OBE for his extensive services to the voluntary sector.

The national honours – Page Four

Comment – Page 22

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