Queen’s Birthday Honours list: Shropshire unsung heroes are rewarded

Some of Shropshire's most selfless people have been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

Humanitarian volunteer Steve Worrall and RAF Warrant Officer Louise Simpson
Humanitarian volunteer Steve Worrall and RAF Warrant Officer Louise Simpson

Susan Cooper, who set up the charity Caring for God’s Acre, which is recognised as the country’s foremost organisation protecting and conserving burial grounds, has been awarded an MBE

Mrs Cooper, 69, from Bishop’s Castle, said she was very proud to have received the honour.

She said: “I am thrilled and proud. It is quite a surprise. I had the letter five or six weeks ago but it would not be made public until today so it has been very difficult.”

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Mrs Cooper said was also proud of the work the charity carried out.

She said: “I am proud that it is where it is today which is a well recognised and well respected charity that is the go-to organisation for church yard and burial ground conservation for all faiths and denominations.”

Operation Sabre's Steve Worrall, with brigade chaplain Murray McBride

Shropshire’s former assistant chief fire officer, Steve Worrall, has been awarded the British Empire Medal for humanitarian services in Eastern Europe.

Before retiring in 2013, Mr Worrall established a successful staff exchange programme that enabled more than 100 Shropshire firefighters to gain experiences from secondments to fire services across Europe.

A decade ago, the programme took on an humanitarian aid focus, with volunteer local firefighters delivering and donating more than 50 fire engines and thousands of firefighting uniforms to Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Romania.

Upon retirement his passion for helping not only Eastern European fire services, but more importantly, both the young and elderly alike in some of the most remote and vulnerable communities in Romania, led to the creation of the Shrewsbury based charity Operation Sabre.

As president of Operation Sabre, Mr Worrall and his team have been responsible for providing vehicles, equipment, uniform and training of volunteer Romanian firefighters while supporting and redecorating several Romanian orphanages and homes for the elderly and special needs.

Mr Worrall, who lives with his wife Karen on the outskirts of Shrewsbury, attended the Grange School Shrewsbury and originally trained and qualified as an engineer at the town’s Rolls-Royce Motors before a distinguished 30 year career with Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service.

Mr Worrall said he was surprised and extremely humbled by the nomination.

RAF Warrant Officer Louise Simpson

Shropshire RAF Warrant Officer Louise Simpson has also been awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

Warrant Officer Simpson, 46, based at RAF Shawbury, has received the honour in recognition of excellence in her primary duty as an air traffic control instructor and for services to charity.

Warrant Officer Simpson has been an active fundraiser with a vast list of charitable pursuits.

They include an 800-mile cycle which raised more than £10,000 for Help for Heroes, running the London Marathon and raising £1,700 for IT for children in hospital, a 69-mile road race along Hadrian’s Wall raising £1,200, and four long-distance events comprising two ultra-marathons, one marathon and a half-Ironman raising £900 for the Severn Hospice.

Warrant Officer Simpson also volunteers weekly at Severn Hospice, caring for the terminally ill and offering support to their families.

Extending her charitable efforts worldwide she is also the programme administrator for the ‘Taking Football to Africa and Beyond’ charitable appeal, processing donations from football associations nationwide.

Warrant Officer Simpson said: “This honour is an amazing surprise to me. Taking Football to Africa and Beyond and Severn Hospice are both close to my heart and I have just been carrying out work that I hope helps to make a difference to others.”

Wyndham Richard Davidson, of Bridgnorth has been awarded a British Empire Medal for his services to swimming coaching in Shropshire and the West Midlands.

Mr Davidson, 72, who has been part of Northgate Swimming Club in Bridgnorth for 40 years – 35 as chief coach, before stepping down to coach the youth team last year, said he was honoured to have been recognised.

He said: “I was extremely pleased and somewhat surprised and shocked.

“It came completely out of the blue. I do not know who put my name forward and probably never will but I am very pleased, particularly on behalf of the sport because it helps to bring it to the fore.”

Mr Davidson has also been a key part of Shropshire county swimming and coached other coaches for Swim England, formerly the ASA.

Asked about what he enjoys most about coaching he said: “It is working with young people and watching them improve, not only as athletes but also seeing them grow as people.”

Christine Neil, from Yockleton, has also received a British Empire Medal, awarded for her services to charity.

Mrs Neil, 71, ran the National Garden Scheme in the county for 12 years, during which the organisation has raised more than £600,000 for charities including Marie Curie and MacMillan.

Mrs Neil, a former nurse, was also part of the League of Friends to Royal Shrewsbury Hospital for more than 20 years, starting in 1979 when her husband joined the hospital as a doctor.

The organisation raised money to pay for a number of vital projects and parts of the hospital including the renal unit.

Mrs Neil said: “I am 71 and it is quite nice to receive something after many years of working for various charities.”

She added: “I have been involved in lots of charities over the years, it is basically my mother’s protestant work ethic that said you could not sit down and do nothing!”

Alan Stephen Moss, from Telford, a senior lecturer at the RAF Central Training School has been awarded an MBE for services to Apprentice Training, and Jeffrey Thomas Fletcher, from Telford, has received British Empire Medal for his services to the community of Telford.

Volunteer blood bike rider David Pearce said he was ‘absolutely stunned’ when he heard he had received a British Empire Medal in this year’s awards list.

The 44-year-old father is a trustee and volunteer rider for Midland Freewheelers Blood Bikes Charity, which covers Shropshire, and was granted the honour for his voluntary and charitable services to healthcare.

David said: “I came through the front door and saw this envelope from the cabinet office and I thought why on earth are the cabinet office writing to me? When I opened it I was blown away. It’s absolutely fantastic. It’s still taking a while to sink in.”

As well as his vital work transporting blood, medication, breast milk and even chemotherapy drugs, David is also a full time operations manager at Birmingham Criminal Justice Centre, a coach to the under 14s Old Halesonians rugby team and a dog foster carer.

Honours awarded in the region

Selected honours include:

OBE:

Jeremy David Blyth, of Herefordshire. Senior UK Accreditor Galileo Programme and Chair, European Galilieo Security Board. For services to UK and EU Security.

Montagu Denis Wyatt Don, of Leominster. Horticulturalist Writer and Broadcaster. For services to Horticulture, to Broadcasting and to charity.

Mark Andrew Polin QPM, Chief Constable, North Wales Police. For services to Policing.

MBE

Alan Stephen Moss, of Telford. Senior Lecturer RAF Central Training School. For services to Apprentice Training.

Ms Susan Mary Cooper, of Shrewsbury. For services to Conservation and to the Environment in Shropshire and Herefordshire. Shrewsbury.

Dr Gareth Collier, Consultant Respiratory Physician Glangwili Hospital. For services to Lung Cancer Treatment in Wales. (Carmarthenshire)

BEM

Mrs Eileen Dorothy Elsie Dilley, of Herefordshire. For services to the Women’s Institute in Herefordshire.

Mrs Janet Susan Price, of Bewdley. For services to charity and to the community in Bewdley.

Wyndham Richard Davidson, of Bridgnorth. For services to Swimming Coaching in Shropshire and the West Midlands.

Jeffrey Thomas Fletcher, of Telford. For services to the community in Telford.

Mrs Christine Drusilla Neil, of Yockleton. For services to charity in Shropshire.

Dr Stephen Graham Worrall, of Shrewsbury. For charitable service in Eastern Europe.

QUEEN’S AMBULANCE SERVICE MEDAL:

Jason Frederick Collins, finance manager Welsh Ambulance Service. For services to the Welsh Ambulance Service.

Mrs Leanne Hawker, patient experience lead and community involvement, Welsh Ambulance Service. For services to the Welsh Ambulance Service.

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