‘I thought it was a hoax’ - community leaders react to being named in Queen’s Birthday Honours
Community leaders and unsung activists who work tirelessly for the benefit of others have been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.
In Bury St Edmunds, Ernie Broom, who has championed the needs of the Howard estate and helped the town’s disadvantaged, is to receive a British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to the community.
The 79-year-old, chairman of the Howard Estate Association of Residents and Tenants, said: “I thought it was a hoax at first. I was very pleasantly surprised, shocked I suppose, but what a wonderful thing.”
Mr Broom moved to Bury from London in 1965 and worked for 31 years as a telephone engineer as well as 11 years as an ambulance driver for West Suffolk Hospital.
It was this move to a new town and the death of his wife Deirdre in November, 2001, which saw him become immersed in the community.
Among his many achievements, the great-grandfather started a club for youngsters in 1969. Numbers grew so rapidly, they decided to affiliate with national organisation The Woodcraft Folk which led to five groups being established in the town.
He served on the Suffolk Youth Advisory Council, was a governor at Howard Primary and Howard Middle Schools and started the Over 60s Club following the death of his wife.
Mr Broom also led a three year campaign to get an Asda store in Bury, campaigned for 11 years to get Merry-Go-Round site redeveloped, played a major role in getting a pharmacy on the estate and helped set up a food bank in the town.
He said: “When I moved down here in ’65 I wasn’t sure whether I had done the right thing. I didn’t know anybody so the only way to get to know them was to get involved in the community and that’s what I’ve been doing ever since.”
Jean Evans, of Barrow, will also be honoured with a BEM for services to the West Suffolk Group of Riding for the Disabled and to the village community.
Mrs Evans is the organiser for the group, which meets at Barrow Hall Stables on Tuesdays and caters for children and adults with physical and learning disabilities.
She first got involved with the group in 1976 – the same year she started cooking meals for residents in the village. It is served every Friday for about 20 to 30 people in the village hall and delivered to homes.
The lunch was originally for people living in sheltered accommodation Autumn Close and was started by former warden Ruby Wright.
On the honour, Mrs Evans said: “I was slightly embarrassed because so many people do a lot of things – Barrow is full of good folk who work hard for other people. Now I’m really enjoying it because people have been so delightfully pleased for me, which is nice.”
Jane Gurney, from Stowmarket, will be honoured with a BEM for her work with the Target Club in Stowmarket, a evening club for adults with disabilities and learning difficulties.
Jane has been running the club for 32 years.
She said: “When I found out I was gobsmacked. I was very overwhelmed and humbled that someone would nominate me. It is really a big thank you to the whole team.”
The club has been in existence for 36 years and had just gone from strength to strength.
“We still have some of the original members at the club, in fact we have one member who just celebrated his 79th birthday.”
Elizabeth Barrett, from Kentford near Stowmarket, is receiving a BEM for her voluntary service to the Public Rights of Way Network in East Anglia.
She said: “I was incredibly surprised when the letter came through the post, I was shattered. For 35 years I have actively been campaigning for new tracks for horse rides.
“I really had put it out of my mind until a few weeks ago.
“What surprised me was the impact it has had on people know and the reaction from my friends.
“I am due to attend garden party at Buckingham palace at some point.
“That will be good fun.”
Former district nurse Eileen Lindsay, who founded the Lindsay Leg Club in Stowmarket, has been honoured with an OBE for her services to nursing.
Eileen has worked tirelessly to help people of all ages with lower limb conditions, such as leg ulcers, receive the treatment and care they need in community setting.
The unique social model she pioneered relies on joint working between local health providers, Leg Club volunteers and members. Each Leg Club operates according to strict guidelines of care, monitored by the Lindsay Leg Club Foundation.