Delight for Queen’s New Year Honour recipients

Having tirelesslessly worked for the Royal British Legion for 60 years, a volunteer from Wells has become an MBE in today's New Year Honours.

Betty Emmerson, 80, said she was 'astounded' by the honour and kept the news from everyone, including her family, until this week.

Over the last six decades, she has held virtually every role in the Royal British Legion and has been a dedicated Poppy Appeal collector since the 1960s.

She is one of a number of people from the region to be recognised in the Queen's New Year honours list published today.

Mrs Emmerson said: 'It was such a shock, I was astounded, I've kept the letter hidden in case anyone saw it. I'm quite embarrassed really.'

After more than 30 years in the role, Mrs Emmerson is still secretary as well as treasurer of the Wells branch and is chairman of the women's section.

When Mrs Emmerson, who now lives in Northfield Crescent, returned home after being invalided out of the Army in 1950, her first visitors - bearing fruit and flowers - were from the then British Legion.

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'They were brilliant. I thought 'if this is what they're like, I want to be a part of it.'

Touched by their kindness, she did not hesitate when she was asked to join at the age of 19 and was quickly involved in fundraising.

Social worker Barbara Ross and Care Quality commissioner Kay Sheldon, both from Norwich and hospital board member and college chairman Michael Field from Oulton Broad were made OBEs today.

Mrs Ross founded the Norfolk-based Gender Identity Services, which helps transgender people to come to terms with who they are by helping with counselling and support groups.

The 81-year-old from Stoke Holy Cross joined Norfolk Social Services in the 1970s and said that over the 35 years she had met some amazing people.

'I have learnt so much from the people I have met through the work I have done over the years. I have gained so much.'

'Norfolk and Norwich is very welcoming to transgender people. People can go out and have a meal and people do not say much', she said.

Mrs Sheldon has been a keen champion for the voice of patients' after she was wrongly diagnosed and treated for a mental health illness for almost 15 years.

A self dubbed 'activist', was appointed to the new Care Quality Commission two years ago having been a commissioner and a board member of the Mental Health Act Commission.

The 47-year-old from Gloucester Street in Norwich said she was 'really pleased' to be have been made and MBE in today's New Year honours.

After a nervous breakdown in 1986 she was diagnosed as a schizophrenic wrongly she says and given drugs that caused terrible side effects.

'I've got experience of being detained under the Mental Health Act. That shows the honours system has changed and hopefully it is inspiring to others', she said.

'I am really pleased, but I'm a little bit embarrassed because I don't like to blow my own trumpet.'

Dr Field, who is one of the UK's leading specialists in the governance of not-for profit organisations, was made an OBE for his services to the voluntary sector.

Dr Field, who lives with his wife Janet at Oulton Broad, is a non-executive board member of the James Paget University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and chairman of the corporation at Great Yarmouth College. He is the only college chairman in the country to be a chartered director.

'I've been associated with voluntary organisations for most of my career and I get a great deal of pleasure in witnessing the amazing work they undertake for our communities.

'Great Yarmouth's Community Connections is a really good example of a grass roots organisation that's carrying out highly successful community development work throughout the borough. I'm proud to be a member of its board.

'I'm equally proud of my roles at the James Paget Hospital and Yarmouth College. The college has been through difficult times just recently but it has some outstanding staff and fine facilities and I'm confident it will emerge stronger to offer students an even more vibrant and stimulating environment in the near future.'

Among those who have been made MBEs today are a writer and translator, Norfolk Police special and many who have played an important role in their communities.

John Child, who lives in Wood Dalling, near Reepham, has been director of the Norfolk and Norwich Association for the Blind for 18 years.

The 69-year-old said: 'I have been doing this job since 1992. I do believe that we as a team make a massive difference to people's lives and we treat people as we would like to be treated ourselves.'

He said since he had taken on the role after leaving the army the charity had taken more services out into the community since he joined.

Despite having no state funding, they spend �600,000 helping blind people in Norfolk each year.

He paid tribute to the other trustees and volunteers of the charity.

'It was very nice to receive the letter. It was a complete surprise and I'm very honoured and really chuffed', he said.

Russ Dacre, who helped create a drink and alcohol free venue in Norfolk as the former director of the Open Youth Trust in Norwich, was also made an MBE.

Mr Dacre helped spearhead the Open Youth venue project which has opened at the Grade II listed former Barclays Bank building in Bank Plain, Norwich.

The venue, which opened in October last year, was transformed from a 19th century bank into the country's first under 18s nightclub which has a capacity of 1,100, a climbing wall and a media centre with free use of the internet.

Mr Dacre, 31, said he was 'surprised' to have been recognised with the honour. He said: 'I thought someone was having a laugh - it wasn't something I expected at all. You don't ever do these things to get recognised or honoured so it was a massive surprise.'

Mr Dacre, who has had to battle his own drink issues in the past, said the Open Youth venue came about because of a desire to create a safe place for young people in the city.

He said: 'That was the main driving force - to provide an alternative to a drug and alcohol culture for young people and I certainly feel that's what we've achieved. It's been a fantastic safe place for young people and already lots of young people have been positively affected by it so that's a good thing.'

Mary Feakes, 60, from Garboldisham, said she was 'thrilled' to hear she had been honoured with an MBE for her work which includes having been a governor at the village's primary school for more than 30 years.

The devoted village volunteer who has a become a familiar face to hundreds children growing up in south Norfolk, said: 'I feel so thrilled and honoured because it must have been someone in the community who recommended me and thought I was worthy,' she said.

Having initially joined the school as a parent governor, she now holds the position as chairman of the governors and regularly provides singing lessons for the children.

Mrs Feakes, who has lived in Garboldisham for 33 years, said one of her proudest moments was overseeing the opening of long-awaited new classrooms in 2005 which meant children no longer had to spend their school days in mobile units.

The grandmother-of-two has also been the chairman of Garboldisham Parish Council for 20 years and is chairman of the recreation ground committee.

On top of these duties, the housewife works as a clerk for the village's meals on wheels scheme and as a clerk for the parish charities as well as produces and distributes the community newsletter.

'I got on one thing and then people were saying could you just help with something else and before you know it I'm on everything,' she said.

'I love it. I particularly love working with the school. It's tremendous - you get to see the children of the children coming through.'

Former University of East Anglia Royal Literary Fund fellow Lakshmi Holmstrom was also made an MBE.

Ms Holmstrom, who now lives in Norwich, translated the fifth-century Tamil narrative poems Silappadikaram and Manimekalai which were published in 1996.

Her main work has been in translating the short stories and novels of the major contemporary writers in Tamil: Mauni, Pudumaippittan, Ashokamitran, Sundara Ramaswamy, Ambai, Baama and Imayam.

She said: 'It has been my pleasure and privilege, as a translator, to bring Tamil literature, fiction and poetry, to a wider audience.'

Mrs Holmstr�m was born in India and studied at Madras and Oxford universities.

She has lived in Norfolk for more than 30 years.

In Thorpe Market, near Cromer, Margaret Hunter was made an MBE today 13 years after she helped rescue Thorpe Market Church from closure.

Mrs Hunter, 66, has been a leading light in the transformation of her village church, near Cromer, into a community honeypot, hosting a wide range of cultural events and services.

St Margaret's re-opened at Easter after 10 months' closure and �165,000 worth of restoration work; the last in a long line of initiatives totalling over �250,000 which have left the Grade II-star listed church almost in its original 1796 'immaculate' condition.

'It must be one of very few churches which doesn't have any repair bills attached. Nothing needs doing,' said Mrs Hunter.

Its many new users include non-worshipping villagers who visit the church for attractions including concerts, drama, exhibitions, talks, and wildflower walks.

'They think of it as their church and nurture it. They've developed a soft spot for it,' she added.

Mrs Hunter said she was 'absolutely staggered' when she learned of her honour and had accepted it on behalf of those who had shared her vision of the church's future when its falling congregation in a village of some 100 households had put it in grave danger of closure.

Working as an unpaid special police officer in Norfolk for 33 years has been rewarded as Malcolm Pearson receives an MBE for services to the force.

The special chief officer joined when he was 19 with the thought of becoming a regular, but he has remained in the volunteer sector while working at the Construction Skills Centre in Bircham Newton.

Specials work alongside their full-time colleagues in a variety of roles and demand to join has been growing.

Speaking to the EDP for a recent feature, he said: 'Despite all of my years as a special, I don't think I would be ready to step in and do the job of a regular officer. We are here to assist the regular officers. It is often better to send two officers to a job than one and we can free up some regular officers to enable them to get on with other work.'

Paul Playford, a former parish council chairman who helped bring a pioneering housing development to a south Norfolk village has become an MBE.

During his ten-year stretch at the helm of Tivetshall Parish Council, Mr Playford oversaw the construction of a new village green and 16 new homes in 2006 which brought together rented, shared ownership and open market housing without the use of grants or public subsidies.

The 61-year-old, from Tivetshall St Mary, also chaired a committee which built a new village hall on the parish playing field in the late 1990s.

Today Mr Playford is well-known by scores of local youngsters as the Group Leader of Dickleburgh Sea Scouts, which currently has about 90 members, aged six to 18, who travel from more than 10 surrounding villages just to take part.

A new building was officially opened for the club in 2002 and the volunteers continue to provide the Sea Scouts with new equipment thanks to their tireless fundraising.

On hearing about his latest honour, he said: 'It was like wow. That was a quite exciting moment.'

He added that he saw his role as a 'facilitator' of community projects and paid tribute to all the people who had come together to make them happen.

Doris Langford, from Norwich was also awarded an MBE for voluntary service to the Royal National Lifeboat Institute in Norwich.

Andrew Jarvis has worked on the Sandringham Estate for 20 years and followed his mother Eileen in working for the Royal family's fruit farm. The Flitcham man received the Royal Victorian Medal (RVM) in this year's honours.

Mr Jarvis, 45, said he was delighted when a letter arrived at his home last week telling him he was to receive the RVM.

'I was well pleased - I couldn't tell anyone but close family, but I was really happy,' he said.

The Sandringham Fruit Farm covers 200 acres and grows apples which are popular with pick-your-own harvesters. The fruit is also sold through Royal estate shops and some goes to make apple juice.

The blackberries also grown on the farm are used for the popular fruit drink Ribena.

A Deputy Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire is among recipients of honours from Cambridgeshire.

Freddie Grounds is to receive an MBE for his services to the East Anglia Reserve Forces and Cadets Association.

A well-known businessman in March, Mr Grounds is the senior partner in the valuers, auctioneers and estate agents Grounds & Co. He has also served as March mayor on two occasions and is a previous chairman of Fenland District Council.

'When I heard I was completely overwhelmed,' he said yesterday.

Also receiving an MBE is Leonard Dunbar, a senior officer at HM Prison Whitemoor, near March; Mrs Yvonne Braithwaite, for voluntary services to Macmillan Cancer Support in the county; Mrs Judith Borland for voluntary service to SSAFA Forces Help in Cambridgeshire; Mrs Janice Nightingale for voluntary service to Safer Cycling and Mrs Glennis Bentley for voluntary services to young people in Peterborough.