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Suffolk British Empire Medal recipients praised by Countess of Euston for ‘hours and hours’ of work

PUBLISHED: 11:52 04 November 2017 | UPDATED: 11:52 04 November 2017

Margaret Mason pictured with Lady Clare Picture: GREGG BROWN

Margaret Mason pictured with Lady Clare Picture: GREGG BROWN

The county’s unsung community heroes were celebrated yesterday at the British Empire Medal (BEM) Investiture ceremony held by Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk.

Ann Squirrell pictured with Lady Clare Picture: GREGG BROWN Ann Squirrell pictured with Lady Clare Picture: GREGG BROWN

Five people, who were awarded a BEM in the Queen’s Birthday Honours, attended the Countess of Euston’s home in west Suffolk where Lady Clare – Her Majesty’s representative in the county – thanked each of them for their service to their communities.

The ceremony, held in the idyllic surroundings of Euston Stables, near Fakenham Magna, was attended by the family and friends of the recipients.

The British Empire Medal, which was revived in 2012 after 20 years, is a civil and military medal for “meritorious” service.

Speaking at the ceremony, Lady Clare praised the recipients for finding “hours and hours” of their own time to help others.

Janet Kerridge pictured with Lady Clare Picture: GREGG BROWN Janet Kerridge pictured with Lady Clare Picture: GREGG BROWN

She said: “The common theme of everyone in this room who has been recognised by the Queen is that despite living extraordinarily busy lives, you have managed to find hours and hours of your own time to help other people.

“Suffolk is not a show-off county but underneath the surface it does have many good people.”

Lady Clare added she was very proud to present the medals to the deserving recipients.

Timothy Fogden was recognised for services to charity and the community in Bury St Edmunds, and was one of the founders of the annual Euston Rural Pastimes event.

Left to right, David Hodge, Ann Squirrell, Lady Clare, Margaret Mason, Timothy Fogden and Janet Kerridge. Picture: GREGG BROWN Left to right, David Hodge, Ann Squirrell, Lady Clare, Margaret Mason, Timothy Fogden and Janet Kerridge. Picture: GREGG BROWN

The event first started in 1990 when Honington Church was in need of essential repairs and a fundraising committee was set up.

The annual event has now raised £500,000 for St Nicholas Hospice Care in Bury St Edmunds and local churches in its 26-year history.

Mr Fogden said he was “humbled” to receive the honour and dedicated his award to “the hard working team at Rural Pastimes”.

David Hodge received his medal for services to the community in Cockfield.

Margaret Mason chats to Lady Clare. Picture: GREGG BROWN Margaret Mason chats to Lady Clare. Picture: GREGG BROWN

He has been involved in many things in the village, including converting a redundant farm building into a computer room, which serves as a learning centre for anyone who wants to learn about computers.

The former Babergh district councillor said he was “very surprised and very proud” to collect his award.

Recognised for services to the community in Walsham-le-Willows, Janet Kerridge was celebrated for her 40-year work with the church in the village.

Up until this year, she had been church secretary since 1973.

Lady Clare presenting David Hugh Hodge with his medal. Picture: GREGG BROWN Lady Clare presenting David Hugh Hodge with his medal. Picture: GREGG BROWN

She also organises the children’s praise and the Christmas praise at St Mary’s and said she was surprised by the award.

She said: “I have been thinking about it for some time, it’s a very nice day.”

Anne Mason was rewarded for services for the Friends of Thetford Forest (FoTF) and heritage in Suffolk.

Since its creation in 1995, the FoTF have worked hard to increase the understanding, enjoyment and community involvement of the forest.

Family and friends celebrate the British Empire Medal Investiture for Suffolk. Picture: GREGG BROWN Family and friends celebrate the British Empire Medal Investiture for Suffolk. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Highlight projects include the restoration of Mildenhall Warren Lodge, one of only two surviving Medieval warren lodge buildings in Breckland.

Ms Mason, who is chairman of the group, said the volunteers spend more than 3,500 hours taking care of the forest each year.

She is also involved in sourcing funding and delivering projects and has been involved with 15 Heritage Lottery Fund applications during her career.

She said: “To be recognised for something you love doing is amazing. I feel honoured to be here today.”

The founder of Mid Suffolk Axis, Ann Squirrell, received her medal for services to people with physical and sensory disabilities in mid Suffolk.

For over 30 years the organisation has provided friendship and support to adults with physical and/or sensory disabilities, providing regular activities and outings, as well as arts and crafts and music.

Ann, who retired two years ago, managed the group and organised trips to places such as France, Germany and Ireland for people with a wide range of disabilities.

She said: “I was a bit nervous, but it has been really lovely.

“I still can’t believe it really. I have enjoyed my work, and was lucky to have such a dedicated team of staff and volunteers.”

Drinks and a light buffet were served to guests in the dining room following the BEM ceremony, which was also attended by former EADT editor Terry Hunt.

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