New Year Honours: Who is on the list from Norfolk and Suffolk?
PUBLISHED: 11:34 30 December 2017 | UPDATED: 12:09 30 December 2017
People in our region who work to help improve the lives of others have been recognised in the New Year Honour List.
Lorraine’s work with homeless and disadvantaged recognised with MBE
A woman who has spent nearly 30 years working with disadvantaged young people - and also fostered children for 13 years - has been made an MBE in the New Year Honours.
Lorraine Bliss, 65, has worked at the St Edmunds Society in Norwich, a training centre for young people, for 27 years. She is now its chief executive.
Mrs Bliss, who has been recognised for her services to disadvantaged young people in Norfolk and Suffolk, had first volunteered to help the disadvantaged back in the 1980s.
Mrs Bliss, who lives in George Eliot Way in Dereham, said: “I feel very privileged and humbled to receive this award.
“I have worked hard on behalf of disadvantaged young people for almost 30 years and so notification of this honour was a wonderful surprise.
“It will hopefully serve to heighten interest in their plight and what we can all do to help.
“St Ed’s has been an important part of my life and I am grateful to my family for their support.”
She first became involved with disadvantaged young people in the late 1980s, volunteering at a drop-in centre, the Westgate Project.
In the years when she worked in the accommodation sector, she transformed a small hostel for young people in Norwich’s Earlham Road, with few structures or policies in place, into an outstanding hostel.
That hostel provided secure high quality support and accommodation for vulnerable young people.
But, in 2011, the funding for the hostel was withdrawn and it closed the following year.
But Mrs Bliss took the training element she had developed out of the hostel environment and turned it into a training centre for young people, which is supported by many leading firms in the construction industry.
In the mid-1990s, she also created Ed’s Basement in Norwich, which provides drop-in sessions and practical skills workshops for homeless people and those at risk of homelessness.
Her success in the venture was followed by recognition by national organisations such as the City & Guilds Institute.
And Mrs Bliss was also a foster parent for more than 13 years, specialising in hard-to-place children.
Geoffrey, 90, recognised for community work
A 90-year-old man has been made an MBE for services to the community in his village.
But Geoffrey Knights, from Avenue Road, High Kelling, revealed he had asked his citation to be changed - because it initially recognised him for services to Holt, rather than in his home village.
He said: “I honestly thought I had messed it up because the citation first read for services to the community in Holt, which I haven’t really done anything for.
“I asked them to modify the citation to read the community in High Kelling, which they did, and I’m very pleased.
“At every Christmas party I have had a joke to say, that I had been overlooked for an award again, so I’ll have to change that joke.”
Mr Knights was involved in the setting up of the village hall in High Kelling and was also chairman of the High Kelling Society for about 50 years.
He also produced its monthly newsletter.
Alan Witham was awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to the community in Erpingham, near Aylsham.
The 57-year-old, who lives in Erpingham, said: “I’m over the moon - chuffed to bits. I think it reflects more on the groups in Erpingham than just me - I’m just a cog in a big wheel.”
He belongs to the church group and was involved in the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt in the village, which is named after the knight, Sir Thomas Erpingham.
He has been a parish councillor for several years and said his family had been in the village since the mid-1800s.
Giles Margarson, 75, was awarded a BEM for services to the community in Aylsham.
He has been chairman of Aylsham Community Partnership.
Additionally, he is director of Bure Valley Railway, former chairman/vice-chairman and now committee member of Aylsham Business and Enterprise Forum.
In 2011 he was involved in a £140,000 project to convert the old Victorian church rooms into a heritage centre, and he has helped Aylsham becoming a plastic bag free town, a first in Norfolk.
Mr Margarson, of Soame Close, Aylsham, said: “It’s a honour and I’m delighted to receive it. It was quite a surprise when it came in the post. Aylsham is a lovely community and I enjoy doing what I can.”
Return trip to the Palace for Norwich’s Tricia
It will be a return trip to Buckingham Palace for Norwich’s Tricia Fuller, who looked on with pride as her daughter was made an OBE earlier this year.
But this time, it will be Ms Fuller herself collecting her award, after she was made an MBE for her services to the Norwich community in the Queen’s New Year Honours.
Mrs Fuller is the HR director of the Norse Group, which has its head office in Fifers Lane, and is the architect of the Norse Way, the company’s corporate social responsibility programme.
That programme sees staff encouraged to play a part in their local community, such as by volunteering, while Ms Fuller has played a major role in Norse’s apprenticeships programme and in supporting Project Search.
Project Search is a national initiative which helps students with learning disabilities get into work.
For five years, Ms Fuller, who joined Norse in 1990, also chaired Norfolk ProHelp, a network of professional firms that support community organisations in need.
Ms Fuller, who lives in Norwich, was yesterday travelling to visit her daughter Ciara Eastell, to break the news about her award - a year to the day that her daughter revealed she was being honoured for services to libraries.
Ms Fuller said: “It is lovely, but I think it’s important to say that I don’t do this on my own.
“I’m the one getting to buy a new hat, but I have a great organisation I work for and great teams who often take leaps of faith with me.
“Fifteen to 20 years ago, we were doing corporate social responsibility when it wasn’t something which a lot of companies did.
“My passion has always been young people and people who are disadvantaged in the work place, so it’s lovely for that to be recognised.”
Ms Fuller revealed the letter about her nomination had sat on her doormat for so long, the Cabinet Office chased her up to see if she was going to accept the honour.
She said: “I’d been away on holiday and came back to the usual bills and junk mail. But then there was this letter, in a nondescript looking envelope, which, when I opened it, said I’d been nominated.
“It asked you if you wanted to accept, so I filled it in, but it had been sitting on my doormat for two weeks.
“And the following day I got a call from a terribly nice man in the Cabinet Office asking if I was intending to accept it!”
Peter’s political work is recognised
Years of work to help local Conservative groups has earned the party’s former regional chairman for the East of England recognition in the New Year Honours list.
Peter Stebbings, 68, who lives in Hedenham, in south Norfolk, with his wife Mary, has been made an OBE for his voluntary political service in the region.
Mr Stebbings, who got involved with local politics after retiring as a chartered accountant in 2000, has served as chairman of the South Norfolk Conservatives, area chairman and regional chairman.
He said: “I feel highly honoured and it’s been so difficult not being able to tell people.
“I just could not believe it. I was over the moon and you realise that all the effort you have put in does get recognised.
“I am very humbled and can’t wait to tell my family about it.
“I had to keep quiet about it over Christmas, which was very difficult!”
Fifty years of parish council work earns grandmother British Empire Medal
A grandmother who has tirelessly served on her parish council for more than 50 years has been awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) for her services to the community in Brancaster.
Janet Lake was appointed as clerk to Brancaster Parish Council, on March 23, 1966.
Fifty-one years later, she still holds the role and has dedicated much of her life to serving her coastal community.
Aside from her position on the council, Mrs Lake has been a school governor, a dinner lady, worked for the Deepdale and Brancaster Housing Society and helped found the village’s 71 Club.
Speaking in 2016, upon receiving an award in recognition of her service on the parish council, Mrs Lake said: “There are lots of thank-yous today - firstly to the parish council for putting up with me for 50 years,”
“Working with so many councillors over the years has been a great experience.
“Parish councils are the first rung on the ladder of local government, who deserve your thanks for a thankless task.”
Work to make offices healthy places gets Trevor OBE title
Dr Trevor Ogden has been made an OBE for services to occupational hygiene and workplace air quality.
The grandfather-of-three, 75, from Greenfields Road, Dereham, said: “It was very surprising, but I’m very pleased and very honoured.
“Occupational hygiene is concerned with making workplaces safer to work in, from a health point of view.
“I used to work at the Health and Safety Executive laboratories, as I trained as a physicist.
“For 15 years I edited the Annals of Occupational Hygiene international journal, owned by the British Occupational Hygiene Society (BOHS).
“There is a BOHS local group which meets in Norwich. I’m also a trustee of the local Wellspring family church in Dereham.”
Knighthood for former Norwich Research Park chairman
A former chairman of Norwich Research Park is to be knighted.
Anthony Habgood will receive his knighthood for services to industry, having been chairman of three FTSE 100 companies: Bunzl, Whitbread and (currently) RELX Group.
From 2006 until 2013, Mr Habgood was a senior non-executive director of Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
He became chairman of the Colney-based Norwich Research Park in 2013, a role he held for three years.
In March 2014, he was appointed chairman of the Court of the Bank of England, but continued in his role at the research park.
Honour for community centre leader
A pioneering community centre leader has been named in the New Year’s honours list for an MBE.
Anita Grodiewicz, 58 and of Outwell, has been nominated for services to the community.
She said she couldn’t do the job without the people who support her at the Rosmini Centre in Wisbech, where she has worked for 11 years and is currently the manager.
“We have a dedicated team of staff and around 130 volunteers who go above and beyond, but they don’t get the recognition, they need to know just how important they are,” she said. “When I found out I was on the list I was really excited. It was a surprise. You just get on with your job and your life and you don’t expect these sort of things to happen to ordinary people.”
The centre hosts homeless lunches every day and gives support to the Eastern European and Roma communities.
She has raised more than £1.77m to provide services for the local community.
Sandringham Estate figures recognised
Two senior people at the Queen’s Norfolk estate have been recognised with honours.
Marcus O’Lone, who has been a land agent at the Sandringham Estate for more than 15 years, has been made a Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (RVO).
He was previously made a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list in 2013.
And Sandringham House manager Paul Southwell has been made a Member of the Royal Victorian Order.
Mr Southwell was previously given a Royal Victorian Medal.
The RVO is an order of knighthood recognising people who have served the Royal family.
It was established in 1896 by Queen Victoria.
In November the Queen appointed Prince Philip to be a Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order. He was honoured for services to the sovereign on their 70th wedding anniversary.
These are the other honours recipients in our region:
Paul Hayden, of Hopton-on-Sea, chair of Anglian Eastern Regional Flood and Coastal committee. For services to flood risk management and disaster response.
Prof Gerard Parr of the University of East Anglia. For services to developing telecoms infrastructure in Northern Ireland.
Richard Carter. governor of West Suffolk College in Bury St Edmunds. For services to education.
James Lyon, of Bury St Edmunds, forest management director of the Forestry Commission. For services to forestry and to conservation.
Diana Porter. founder of Ipswich-based Fresh Start-New Beginnings. For services to sexually abused children, young people and their families in Suffolk.
Alison Evans, of Beccles, Suffolk. For services to the community.