Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire’s greats are recognised in New Year Honours list

10:26 29 December 2012

A civic reception as held in Yarmouth for Paralympic Gold winne, Jessica Jane Applegate.

A civic reception as held in Yarmouth for Paralympic Gold winne, Jessica Jane Applegate.


From a golden girl of the summer’s Paralympics to selfless volunteers who have given up decades for others, the hard work and dedication of people across Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire have been recognised in the New Year Honours list.

Norfolk’s chief constable, a former MP and stalwarts of charity and voluntary work are also among those honoured by the Queen.

Gorleston’s Paralympic champion Jessica-Jane Applegate’s golden year ended on a high when she was made an MBE.

The 16-year-old – who suffers from Asperger’s syndrome – was honoured for her services to swimming, and her mum Dawn was delighted.

“To finish what has been an incredible year with royal recognition in the Queen’s honours list is just amazing and as a family we could not be prouder of Jess,” she said. “The City of Norwich Swimming Club is over the moon for her and would like to wish her all the very best.”

Jessica-Jane was running a Swim with Jess training camp at the UEA Sportspark in Norwich yesterday and though she was not available to speak to the EDP, her mother said she was excited at the honour.

Norfolk’s chief constable Phil Gormley has been awarded the Queen’s Police Medal after nearly three decades of service, having joined Norfolk Constabulary in January 2010 from West Midlands Police.

The married father-of-one began his career in Thames Valley Police in 1985, working in uniform and detective roles up to the rank of superintendent.

Mr Gormley said: “I was surprised and delighted to discover I was to receive this honour. We are only ever as good as the people around us and I have worked with some great people.

“To be recognised in this way is humbling and I could not have done it without the support and encourage-ment of my wife and daughter.”

Senior prison service manager David Nicholson was awarded the British Empire Medal for services to the rehabilitation of prisoners at HMP Norwich.

The father-of-three, who lives in Occold, near Eye, has dedicated his working life to reducing reoffending since he joined the prison service 24 years ago.

“I wanted to do something that made a difference to people’s lives and I’ve had the opportunity to make an impact,” he said.

Mr Nicholson, 45, is now head of reducing reoffending at the Knox Road prison.

“I was very surprised when I heard I was getting this honour, and very pleased, of course. But it isn’t just for me; it’s for all the other people in the prison service and outside who work together to ensure there are fewer victims in the community.”

Former The Bill favourite Graham Cole – who is starring as Abanazar in Aladdin at Norwich Theatre Royal – has been made an OBE.

Mr Cole, whose real name is Graham Coleman-Smith, was honoured for services to the voluntary and charitable giving sector in the United Kingdom. He played PC Tony Stamp in The Bill for more than 20 years.

John Bultitude, a spokesman for the Theatre Royal, said: “It’s great that a member of our pantomime team has been given such a prestigious honour.”

Chris Holt, who organises the popular Hunstanton Lawn Tennis Tournament, was awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM).

“It was a surprise,” said Mr Holt, 66, who lives in Snettisham with his wife Linda, 62. “I’m involved in lots of different things but I’m mainly known for the tennis.”

Mr Holt, a retired chemistry teacher who taught at Smithdon High in Hunstanton for 38 of his 43 years in teaching, is also involved in Hunstanton Lions and secretary of two bowls clubs.

Janet Stangroom has been awarded a British Empire Medal for services to the community in Whissonsett, near Fakenham – and was initially reluctant to accept the award.

Mrs Stangroom was churchwarden at St Mary’s Church in Whissonsett for 25 years, but retired last year. She is still involved with the church as treasurer and parochial church council member.

She said: “There are many people in Whissonsett who work hard for the village and I didn’t think it was fair that I was singled out.

“I was persuaded to accept the award but only on the condition that it was on behalf of the many others who work hard for the village.”

Former South West Norfolk MP Christopher Fraser, who served between 2005 and 2010, has been made an OBE for his public and political service.

The 50-year-old, who now lives in London, is also vice-chairman of the Conservative Policy Forum, chairman of the Conservative Alumni Network, a patron of the Conservative Foundation and an honorary vice-president of the South West Norfolk Conservative Association.

He was elected to serve South West Norfolk in 2005 but announced in 2009 that he would not be standing for re-election in 2010 because of the ill health of his wife Lisa.

Ian Sherwood, Conservative party agent for South West Norfolk, said: “Christopher was an excellent constituency MP, he has a long involvement with politics having served as a councillor before becoming an MP.”

Community volunteer Jane Gemmill receives the British Empire Medal for the 36 years service she has given to Stradbroke.

Mrs Gemmill, 68, of New Street, said she was “gobsmacked”, adding: “I suppose I was a bit embarrassed really because a lot of other people have done lots of good things in the community.”

Caroline Neville, a former principal at City College Norwich, was made an OBE for services to further and higher education and the skills sector.

Miss Neville was principal between 1993 and 2002 before leaving to join the Learning and Skills Council and is a former executive director of the Skills Funding Agency.

Horace Cross, from Hilgay, was made an MBE in recognition of his work for the Royal British Legion over almost four decades.

Mr Cross, who joined the legion’s Downham Market branch in the late 1970s, has been a county caseworker, and spent 10 years as the Downham branch’s chairman.

He also organised the poppy appeal in Downham and its surrounding villages for eight years.

Mr Cross, 83, said: “I’m proud to receive it but also humbled. None of this would have been possible without the support of my wife Eve.”

Sally Campbell-Gray, from King’s Lynn, has been made an MBE for services to the Riding for the Disabled Association, while Robert Turvey, formerly sawmill sales manager on the Sandringham estate, receives the Royal Victorian Medal.

The former manager of one of the country’s first Sure Start children’s centres, Liz Chapman, becomes an OBE.

Ms Chapman led the Thorpe Hamlet and Heartsease centre from its foundation in 2000 until July – but said being singled out for the honour was “a little bit embarrassing”.

She said: “It’s the team that deserve this really. The centre was one of the first 60 centres to be set up, so it was a trailblazer. The whole thing was transformational for families and children, and it was the most wonderful place to work.”

Ms Chapman, 55, left the post in the summer to take up a mentoring role with other children’s centres in the east of England and a part-time position at the social work department of the University of East Anglia.

A Norfolk academic whose advice to top politicians helped to prevent the flooding of the Broads in the 1990s and the selling-off of forests by the current government has become an OBE.

Professor Ian Bateman of the University of East Anglia has been honoured for his services to environmental science and policy, which has included advising ministers, including the chancellor of the exchequer, since the 1990s.

He said he was “incredibly honoured and very humbled” and insisted it was recognition for his entire team.

Prof Bateman, 51, said during his time at the UEA he had been offered jobs at prestigious institutions across the world but said: “I turned them down because, for me, I’m working in the best place in the world.”

He was one of three UEA academics recognised in the Queen’s New Year’s honours. David Howe, Emeritus Professor of Social Work, has been made an OBE for services to vulnerable children and families while Erica Towner, the former director of partnerships at UEA, becomes an MBE for services to higher education.

UEA vice-chancellor Edward Acton said: “I am delighted to hear that the valuable contribution of UEA research to the wider community has been recognised in the honours list.”

Nichola Johnson, a former director of the Sainsbury Centre for the Arts at the University of East Anglia, was made an OBE for services to museums and cultural heritage.

Margaret Wynn has been made an MBE in recognition of her work running a day centre for elderly people in Sprowston for 23 years.

But the 72-year-old said she was accepting the honour on behalf of the other staff and volunteers who help to keep the St Cuthbert’s Church centre open three days a week for its 30 guests.

“It has been really tough to keep the day centre open but somehow we’ve managed to do it,” said Mrs Wynn. “If you really want to keep something going – and I have wanted to keep this going for years – then you are not going to let it go.”

Heather Didwell is to receive a British Empire Medal for her services to the community in Norwich.

Mrs Didwell, 78, of Margaret Paston Avenue in Catton Grove, is the chairman of the management committee at the Catton Grove Community Centre and has been involved with the Catton Grove Community Association for more than 25 years.

She said: “I’m the general dogsbody down there – I help anyone with anything they are trying to do. I don’t think I’m very deserving of this, but it is appreciated.”

Freda Sheehy, a trustee of the NELM Development Trust, is made an MBE for services to the community in Norwich.

Duncan Pigg, a village stalwart who has raised thousands of pounds for charity, has been awarded a British Empire Medal.

The 86-year-old, who lives in Norwich Road, Hethersett, with his wife, Jenny, was awarded the BEM for services to the community in Hethersett, after writing and producing the village pantomime for 40 years, raising more than £80,000.

Mr Pigg is president of Hethersett cricket club, a former school governor at Hethersett High School and Hethersett Woodside Infant and Nursery School and is involved with the village’s musical society.

He said: “Hethersett has been my life since I was 13 and I am now 86.”

Karen Hull, a personal adviser at the Norfolk Careers Service and Connexions Norfolk, is made an MBE for services to education.

Richard Shaw, chief executive of the Norfolk Hospice Tapping House, was made an MBE for his services to the hospice and the Teenage Cancer Trust, which he worked for before joining Tapping House two years ago.

Mr Shaw, who lives in Hunstanton, said: “I’ve had to recover from a fairly serious illness, cancer, on two occasions, which has spurred me on to raise money for charity over the last 30 years.

“I think it’s recognition of an awful lot of people I’ve worked with including those who have patched me up and kept me on the planet.”

Surlingham resident Michael Henderson-Begg is made an MBE for services to the City of London Corporation and to the community in London, seven years after retiring to Norfolk with his wife.


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