Bury St Edmunds Mike Ames reflects on being awarded the British Empire Medal
He has been a teacher, a councillor, a mayor, he helped set up the first residents association in Bury St Edmunds, is known as the man who spearheaded Bury in Bloom – and is rarely photographed without a flamboyant bowtie.
Now Mike Ames has been awarded the British Empire Medal, which will sit alongside an award he was once given by the Queen Mother for his environmental work, and a Papal award in recognition of his work with Catholic Schools in the town, which he taught at for nearly 40 years.
“It was a complete suprise,” he said.
“I wasn’t aware that I’d been nominated. Sombody must have put me forward and I thank them for that.
“It is wonderful to be recognised like this by a community that I value very much.”
For 25 years he served as chairman of Bury In Bloom before hanging up his trowel in September 2011.
“Through the work of the In Bloom committee we have certainly put Bury on the national and international map as a town of environmental excellence.
“It’s not just about hanging baskets: it’s about creating a better landscape, looking after the environment and getting the people in the community to work together,” he said.
Mr Ames was a councillor for 16 years with St Edmundsbury Borough Council and five years with Bury Town Council.
He stood down from his council roles in 2007, having seved as both town and borough mayor.
He was also a teacher for nearly 40 years in the town, firstly at St Edmund’s School and the old Silver Jubilee School, before becoming head of art at St Louis Middle School in 1971 where he worked until he retired in 1999.
He helped form the first town resident’s association in the Gainsborough Road area of the town back in the 1960s.
Now his community work has been recognised by the Queen.
It is not the first time that he has caught the eye of royalty though.
When Prince Charles met Mr Ames, when visiting St Edmundsbury Cathedral he remarked ‘Does he always wear such dazzling bowties?’
Mr Ames is now 75 but is still heavily involved in projects in the town.
He is involved in the Bury Heritage Trust which is trying to give the Guildhall a new lease of life, and is chairman of the Victory Sport Ground Ltd which is on the threshold of a £2m development due to start in the New Year to bring a ‘centre of excellence’ for Bury Cricket Club.
He is also still on the In Bloom and Bury Society committees, is chairman of the Guildhall Feoffment School governing board, and is chairman of Just Traid in the town.
And he said he could not have done any of it without the support of his wife Monica to whom he has been married for 52-years.
“I couldn’t have done what I have done without her support,” he said,
“And I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t enjoy it.
“I enjoy working for the community, galvanising people into doing something.
“We have a lovely community in Bury, a very generous community – look at the response to the Gatehouse foodbank appeal.
“If I have generated some civic pride during my time, then I am a very happy man.”
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Weather for Bury St Edmunds
Saturday 25 May 2013
Temperature: 6 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 20 mph
Wind direction: North
Temperature: 6 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 14 mph
Wind direction: North west