Essex New Year Honours revealed

UNSUNG heroes, community stalwarts and academics from Essex are among those to have been recognised in the Queen's New Years Honours List.Included in their number is author Hugh Johnson, hailed as one of our greatest wine writers, who has been awarded an OBE.

By Sharon Asplin

UNSUNG heroes, community stalwarts and academics from Essex are among those to have been recognised in the Queen's New Years Honours List.

Included in their number is author Hugh Johnson, hailed as one of our greatest wine writers, who has been awarded an OBE.

The 67-year-old, who lives at Saling Hall, Great Saling, near Braintree, is one of the world's bestselling wine authors, selling millions of books in many different languages.

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He is also a recognised authority on gardening and received his award for services to both wine making and horticulture.

He said: “I am particularly pleased to have been acknowledged for both things - it's nice that I can ride two horses and that's what I love doing.

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“I just think what a pleasure it's all been.”

Mr Johnson has been writing about wine since 1960 and is best known for the Hugh Johnson's Pocket Wine Book, published annually since 1977, and The World Atlas of Wine.

Educated at King's College, Cambridge, he was a member of the Cambridge University Wine and Food Society while an undergraduate.

When asked by a friend the difference between two glasses of wine he realised one was magic while the other ordinary, something he later described as his “Damascus” moment.

On the gardening front, he has written in the Royal Horticultural Society's journal under the name Tradescant for many years (and will soon be continuing the column in Garden Illustrated), and helped launch and produce the magazine The Plantsman.

He wrote the International Book of Trees, The Principles of Gardening and Hugh Johnson's Gardening Companion. He is also a founder member of The Tree Council.

Also awarded an OBE is Professor Kimmy Ai Ngor Eldridge, deputy head of health and human sciences at Essex University, who was given the prestigious award for her services to healthcare.

Prof Eldridge holds an MSc from Kings College and specialises in nursing practices.

The health and human science department has an extensive research profile, covering a range of health care issues such as the application of psychology and sociology to social exclusion and mental health.

Dougie, Powell, the warden and manager for East Mersea Youth Camp, received his MBE for services to young people.

Speaking while on holiday in Ireland, the 57-year-old said he was surprised when he heard he had received the award.

Mr Powell started work at the camp 33 years ago when just a handful of people worked there and now is in charge of a team of more than 70.

The camp hosts youngsters from all over the world, with up to 500 people enjoying outdoor activities at any one time.

He said: “I am surprised to hear this - my wife has just told me that I was nominated by the local rotary club.”

Mr Powell is leaving his role in Mersea to start a new activity centre in France, and said it had been a great pleasure to work with so many staff and volunteers.

An 88-year-old woman from Bures becomes an MBE for her contribution to archaeology in Essex.

Earlier this year, Ida McMaster spent time in hospital recovering from a stroke and so was delighted to hear she had been honoured.

At the age of 50, Mrs McMaster joined the Colchester Archaeology Group and took aerial photographs of Essex and the surrounding area for 25 years, which she later gave to Bury St Edmunds and Chelmsford archaeology units.

Mrs McMaster was forced to give up her aerial photography when her eyesight became bad and she could no longer fly but since then she has had two books published on the local area, Mount Bures, Its Lands And Its People and The Red Hill of Essex.

Jillian Hinds, clerk of Kelvedon Parish Council for the past 28 years, was also given an MBE for services to the community.

She said: “It was a great surprise when they told me I had been given the award, but it is as much for the many people that I work with as it is for me.”

She said she had done much work over the years, but said she was particularly proud of her work helping setting up a local nature reserve which was one of the first in the country set up by a parish council to be officially recognised.

“We were very proud of that and there have been various other parish council projects over the years that I have been involved in,” she said.

nOther recipients were:


Susan Gray, director, propriety and ethics, and head of management unit for private offices, Cabinet office.

John Allcock, Colchester, associate director, National Workforce Programme, Department of Health.

Brian Orrell, Chelmsford, trade union leader, British Maritime Professionals, for services to seafarers.


Philip Harris, Colchester, assistant director of community services (housing operations), Plymouth City Council, for services to local government.

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