West Suffolk people are in the New Year Honours 2017 for their work with everything from the Desert Rats to child cyclists and dance.
Rod Scott, from Beyton, has been awarded the British Empire Medal for his services to military associations and specifically the Desert Rats’ Association.
Rod, 70, thinks he was nominated by officers in the current 7th Armoured Brigade, who are descended from the 7th Armoured Division ‘Desert Rats’ who rose to fame in North Africa in World War Two.
Keeping it secret from his seven grandchildren, 20 great grand children and six great grandchildren has been difficult for Rob whose grandson gave him a kiss when he burst into tears after opening the letter from the Cabinet Office.
“He didn’t know why I was crying – it was the shock,” said Rob. “I am honoured.”
Rob began collecting militaria when he was nine and joined the Desert Rats’ Association more than 25 years ago because his father had served with them from D-Day onwards. He became chairman a year later.
Rob’s wife Tina’s grandfather was also a Royal Engineer with the 7th Armoured Division in the Desert, Italy and Normandy.
In 1998 he was instrumental in getting a Cromwell tank on a plinth beside the A1065 at Mundford as a memorial to the Desert Rats at the only place they were based in England during the war, in the build-up to D-Day.
He has also organised an annual reunion parade event there and, though he has stepped down as chairman, he is currently involved in turning wartime Nissen huts into a museum on the site.
When Neville Pettitt, 62, found a Government envelope on his doormat in Bury St Edmunds on returning from a cycling event in Belgium, he thought he must have gone through the Dartford Tunnel without paying but it was to tell him he had the BEM.
“When I opened it I had to read it twice to be sure what it was,” he said. He then showed it to his wife to make sure he had not misread it.
“Whatever you do, you never think you’re outstanding, but, obviously, someone else thought I was,” he said.
Neville, chairman of West Suffolk Wheelers, has it for his work in promoting youth participation in cycling and thinks the nomination came from someone with the British Cycling Federation.
Over the past 20 years he has helped many children of all abilities learn to ride and learn road safety.
He is chairman of the West Suffolk Wheelers’ Triathlon Club helping to increase membership from 40 to just over 400.
“People like Laura Trott [Olympic gold medallist] have ridden in our events,” he said proudly. “Ross Edgar, from Newmarket, [Olympic silver medallist] was found at one of our events in Bury. He came on a rusty mountain bike and we thought he had potential so I lent him my bike.”
He is also heavily involved with their Youth Cycling Programme and is passionate about educating young children on cycling, so is part of the British Cycling group called ‘Go Ride’.
He teaches children from the age of four to 16 skills from cycling in a straight line to coping in busy traffic.
He said: “I specialise in children with disabilities. They need a little more patience and time but once you’ve done it and realise the gratitude from parents and families, it’s worth it.
“A child getting on a bike and riding up the road with you makes such a difference to a family.”
He said parents are often not able to adjust the bike properly for a child and then may not have the knowledge to pass on riding skills.
Isabel ‘Jane’ Green, from Dalham, received the BEM for her service to the village community.
She said: “I feel so overwhelmed by it all. I’m sure there are more people who are far more deserving.”
She moved to the village more than 25 years ago and, though she had never done it before, joined the parochial church council there only a couple of months after joining the church, soon becoiming its secretary.
When the PCC was told the church’s bells were in danger of falling, she began organising the fund raising effort, getting £40,000 in a year which financed their restoration and increasing the peel from five to eight bells.
“It was the first time I had raised anything,” she said, but it was not the last.
Since then she has also raised money for heating the church and restoring its organ twice. About three years ago thieves took 80 per cent of the lead off the church roof, so she masterminded raising £100,000 in a year.
She also finds time to be the president of the Newmarket branch of the Fine Arts Society.
On the national stage, the Order of the British Empire has been awarded to Caroline Miller from Bury, former director of One Dance UK, the dance industry’s body, for her services to the arts.
She was central in bringing together in April 2016 four key dance organisations, the Association of Dance of the African Diaspora (ADAD), Dance UK, National Dance Teachers Association (NDTA) and Youth Dance England (YDE).
She received the De Valois Award for Outstanding Achievement at The Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards 2015 in recognition of her 10 years as Dance UK’s director. She is currently working in Florida.
Sue Wyatt, chairwoman of One Dance UK said: “During her ten years as Director of Dance UK, Caroline Miller raised the profile of dance in the UK substantially, working tirelessly to gain the support of Government for dance across its many forms.”
The OBE has also gone to Michael Carr, from Bury St Edmunds, who was a board member of the Government’s innovation agency Innovate UK, for his services to innovation.
A spokeswoman for the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy, which oversees Innovate UK, said today: “I’ve been informed I’m unable to pass on citation details.”