MBE honours presented to two exceptional Shropshire men by Lord Lieutenant

Two Shropshire men have been presented with honours by Lord Lieutenant Anna Turner at a garden party held at Preen Manor.

Shropshire's Lord Lieutenant Anna Turner with Glen Perkins and Gareth Smith who have both received MBEs
Shropshire's Lord Lieutenant Anna Turner with Glen Perkins and Gareth Smith who have both received MBEs

Glen Perkins, 60, from Market Drayton, founded the Action for Ashes campaign after the baby ashes scandal emerged.

Gareth Smith, the 32-year-old assistant principal at Severndale Specialist Academy received his MBE for his contribution to children and young people during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Glen's campaign came after tragically losing his daughter Olivia to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome in 2007 when she was only four months old.

The family opted to have her cremated at Emstrey Crematorium but were told the night before that there would be no remains because she was too small.

Deeply affected by failings at Shrewsbury Crematorium, Glen launched a petition that gained more than 60,000 signatures, and, representing more than a thousand parents, triggered a national review of an ancient law preventing, in England, the return to parents of the remains of cremated children.

His initiative led to the uncovering by a Governmental working group of systemic problems in the funeral industry and by crematoria.

It was discovered that the remains of many children had been buried in mass graves although their families had been led to believe there would be none they could visit.

He achieved a change in the law, the sharing of best practice and the improvement of advice given by hospitals and undertakers, the return of children's ashes to parents and provision of support in very difficult cases.

It also led to the creation of a lasting memorial in the Longden Road Cemetery for babies lost in the county.

Shropshire's Lord Lieutenant Anna Turner presents the MBE to Glen Perkins.

Glen said: "We decided to start a campaign and discovered a vast number of cases in Shropshire going back to the 70s and then the campaign went nationwide with people wanting to find out what had happened to their babies and there were hundreds of thousands of cases.

"I am really happy about the award but at the end of the day what I got with the law changes was enough and this is the cherry on the cake.

"This is a dedication to all the families who came forward and the MBE is dedicated to all those babies that were lost."

Gareth Smith said it was an honour to receive the award for work during the pandemic.

He said: "An organisation called Oak Academy, backed by the Government, set up a quick virtual response to the pandemic.

"Initially there were no special educational needs teachers and I was part of their leadership scheme helping with their specialist offer.

"I led a team of five teachers, supported by many other dedicated staff at Severndale Specialist Academy, who supported in the creation of online lessons for children across the country who have additional needs.

"It is an incredible honour and the response from the educational side was amazing."

Shropshire's Lord Lieutenant Anna Turner presents the MBE to Gareth Smith.

Lord Lieutenant of Shropshire Anna Turner said: "I presented the honours at a garden party for Deputy Lieutenants held at Preen Manor.

"It was absolutely awe-inspiring to give these awards out as it is only recently that people have been able to choose to have them presented in their local area.

"What an honour it was to do this to two such inspiring people."

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