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Norwich’s greats are recognised in New Year Honours list

PUBLISHED: 10:12 29 December 2012

Great Britain's Jessica-Jane Applegate on the podium with her gold medal after the Women's 200m Freestyle - S14 Final at the Aquatics Centre, London.

Great Britain's Jessica-Jane Applegate on the podium with her gold medal after the Women's 200m Freestyle - S14 Final at the Aquatics Centre, London.

PA Wire/Press Association Images

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 around Norwich have been recognised in the New Year Honours list.

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.

Jessica-Jane was running a ‘Swim with Jess’ training camp at the UEA Sportspark in Norwich yesterday, inspiring the next generation take up sport, and though she was not available to speak, her mother said she was excited at the honour.

Margaret Wynn, 72, has been made an MBE in recognition of her work running a day centre for elderly people in Sprowston over the past 23 years. But she 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, providing food, entertainment and social outings.

“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. I’m dumbfounded by it.”

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 also 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.

“I was surprised when I found out about the award but I am very pleased. I am thrilled.”

Norfolk’s chief constable Phil Gormley, left, 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.

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.”

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: “It’s the team that deserve this. 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 left the post in the summer.

Former The Bill favourite Graham Cole – who is currently starring as Abanazar in Aladdin at Norwich Theatre Royal – has been made an OBE. Mr Cole, real name Graham Coleman-Smith, was honoured for services to the voluntary and charitable sector. He played PC Tony Stamp for more than 20 years.

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 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.

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.

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 been made an OBE.

Professor Ian Bateman of the University of East Anglia has been honoured for his services to environmental science and policy since the 1990s.

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 the UEA, becomes an MBE for services to higher education.

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.

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

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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