Former West Suffolk College governor among those recognised in New Year’s Honours

Richard Carter
Richard Carter

A former governor at West Suffolk College has been recognised for his services to education in the New Year’s Honours.

Richard Carter, of Hessett, has been made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE).

Jim Lyon

Jim Lyon

The 62-year-old said: “I’m a little bit shocked and very grateful to my colleagues who must have put me forward for this.

“It’s a great honour.”

Mr Carter recently stepped down after 16 years as a governor at West Suffolk College including six years as chairman of governors.

He served as joint chairman from January to July with his successor Ken Golding.

Among his proudest achievements was leading the team which recruited the college’s current principal Dr Nikos Savvas.

“It was always a good college but he’s transformed it and it’s now a college that’s looked up to and admired beyond Suffolk and the region,” Mr Carter said.

“It’s an excellent place to come to go through your further education and, with its attachment to the Univsersity of Suffolk, higher education as well.”

Other highlights include his involvement in a project to transform the former Vinten factory, in Western Way, into a centre of excellence for engineering training.

Mr Carter is chairman of the members of The Suffolk Academies Trust, which is a collaboration between the college and One Sixth Form College, in Ipswich. It aims to open the Abbeygate Sixth Form College on the site of King Edward VI School in September 2019.

He is also a member of SENDAT (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Academy Trust), which is sponsored by West Suffolk College and Priory School Special Academy.

Mr Carter started his career as a journalist after studying at Harlow Technical College.

“As someone who benefitted from further education perhaps that is why it has been close to my heart,” he said.

He later set up a PR company Communique with his wife Jill, which they ran for 20 years.

He was also a non executive director and chairman of Suffolk Housing Society as well as chairman of Menta and chairman of governors at Hardwick Middle School.

Asked why he has dedicated his services to education, Mr Carter said: “Everyone deserves and has a right to a good education.

“It’s about making an investment in our future. If you don’t train up the people who are going to do the things you need them to do - whether that’s computer programming or high level engineering or hairdressing - if you don’t give them the very best training in their early lives, then we’re all in trouble.

“Everyone has the right to have those opportunities.”

A college spokeswoman said: “We are delighted that Richard has been honoured in this way.

“He has been an excellent governor and chair of governors, always putting students at the heart of all decisions made and taking the college forward.

“He has also been a brilliant ambassador for West Suffolk College promoting it as an outstanding college to everyone in Suffolk and beyond.”

Meanwhile, James (Jim) Lyon, of Norton, has been awarded an MBE for services to forestry and conservation.

He retired last year after a 42 year career with the Forestry Commission which included managing Thetford Forest.

The 62-year-old said: “I was not expecting it at all. My wife brought through a rather official looking letter, we opened it and we were delighted.

“It was a really wonderful surprise.”

Mr Lyon started his career in Perthshire, Scotland, in forest management work.

“I really started with no qualifications and it was the Forestry Commission which has given me all the professional qualifications for the job I ended up doing,” he said.

After working across Scotland, he took on the role of forest management director for the East of England for 18 years before retiring in June.

Based in Santon Downham with a team of more than 120 people, he was responsible for 90 different forests, which made up 36,000 hectares, from The Wash all the way down to Brighton.

At the heart of which was the 20,000 hectare Thetford Forest, which has ‘changed immensely’ in the last two decades.

Asked about his career highlights in the East, he said: “I’m particularly proud of the changes from a forest that was focused very much on timber production to one that now listens to people and communities.

“We’ve been able to strike that wonderful balance between the demands of people but also the demands of wildlife and the habitats as well as being able to do all that within a working forest. It’s been the most wonderful career.”

He added that he was proud of the collaboration with the British Trust for Ornithology and the work with groups and organisations such as the Friends of Thetford Forest.