Published: 22:30, 29 December 2017
A man who dedicates his life to helping disadvantaged children has been awarded an MBE in the New Year’s Honours List.
Robert Bagley grew up in the former mining village of Elvington during the strike of 1984 and now works tirelessly to provide opportunities for local youngsters.
For the last 32 years he has been a fundraiser for Eythorne Rovers Youth Football and Activity Club.
He regularly hosts quiz nights, events, helps with the annual football tournament and has raised around £35,000.
The money has paid for educational trips for the children including guided tours of Wembley Stadium and attending England games.
For the last 15 years, he has also been chairman of Sturry Road Community Garden Trust - a community action group set up to convert what was previously a landfill site into a community garden that benefits people all ages.
The project has been a big success and continues to thrive under his leadership, receiving more than £3.4 million in funding.
He is a parent/governor at St John’s primary school in Canterbury, where he is also involved in fundraising.
“I’m surprised and amazed, but also delighted, said the 49-year-old who works in the food hall at M&S.
“My dad was a coal miner and it was pretty tough during the strike, although we never felt particularly deprived as a family.
"I just enjoy helping giving youngsters and families opportunities.”
Robert, of Field Avenue, Canterbury, is married to Debbie and has a nine-year-old son.
His brother John, was awarded an MBE 11 years ago for his services to youth football which Robert says is how he first became involved in fundraising.
A council officer who has co-ordinated the effort to welcome refugees from war torn Syria has also been recognised.
Anne Forbes has worked as the Syrian Refugees Resettlement Scheme co-ordinator in Ashford after the council stepped in to help rehouse 250 people in the area by 2020.
Ashford Borough Council was among the first authorities to set up a resettlement scheme, which welcomed the first refugees at Christmas in 2015.
Now there are 71 Syrians from 15 families who are calling the borough their home, and many have started training for work in construction, as hairdressers, and even to run their own cafe.
One of the youngsters was also among the first to enrol at the new college which opened at Elwick Road in September last year.
The efforts to help them integrate into society have been organised by Ms Forbes, who has is to be presented with the British Empire Medal by Her Majesty the Queen.
She said: “This honour is incredibly humbling. I accept the award gratefully but it is not just for me, it is for Ashford.
“The community response has been fantastic and without the support of a wide range of people and organisations our 15 families would not be where they are today.
“All the corners of the borough have helped to resettle our families and I am pleased the goodwill continues to show the country what Ashford is all about.”
Mrs Forbes said partnerships with the private and voluntary sector have been crucial, as well as support from faith groups and the community.
"I accept the award gratefully but it is not just for me, it is for Ashford" - Anne Forbes
Organisations including the Prince’s Trust, Ashford Volunteer Bureau, Kent Adult Education, Ashford College and Concept Training have all been involved in the scheme.
Mrs Forbes added: “They are extremely hard working people who are eager to establish themselves and stand on their own two feet.
“I shall continue to do this work that I love and help those existing families and the others I shall meet in the future.”
She is expected to receive her award from the Lord Lieutenant of Kent of Penshurst Place later this spring, and will be invited to the Royal Garden Party at Buckingham Palace in the summer.
Sarah Alexander, from Speldhurst, also received an award for services to music as she approaches her 10th year as Chief executive and Artistic director National Youth Orchestra (NYO).
Under her leadership, the NYO has grown from an organisation benefitting 164 young musicians in 2008 to an institution which will reach 10,000 teenagers in 2018.
She said: “It’s incredible to receive the honour because it’s not what motivates you everyday to go to work I’m going to work because I really love music and really want to give teenage musicians and audiences incredible opportunities.”
The NYO plans to continue it's work bringing music to a greater number of young people in the coming year through Inspire workshops and performance opportunities.
Meanwhile, Rochester artist Wendy Daws received a BEM for voluntary service to visually impaired people in North Kent.
“It’s completely overwhelming,” she said.
“My husband, The Dean, somebody at Kent Association for the Blind, and people I’ve been working with had put the application forward in 2015.
“I’d been walking in on conversations when they all looked the other way over the last two years, but I didn’t know about it.”
When she opened the letter informing her the Prime Minister had advised the Queen to bestow the honour, she said she was dumbfounded.
“We had a couple of friends over from the night before and they didn’t know what this was about,” she added.
“I just kept reading it over and over again saying I don’t understand. I took a while to sink in.”
Wendy, 49, said she couldn’t wait to tell all those she’d been working with and wanted to use the award to promote the projects she’d been involved with.
Having started as a volunteer for Kent Association for the Blind in 2006, she went on to establish and run two art groups for blind and partially sighted people in Medway and Gravesend.
She was also involved in Rochester Cathedral’s research into an tactile interpretation of the Baptismal Fresco by Sergei Fyodorov, and was commissioned to create the bronze installation now on permanent display.
Further work includes an interpretation of the Queen Victoria statue on display at Gravesend Market, a project to create works inspired by artefacts at the Guildhall Museum, and collaboration with The Beaney House of Art and Knowledge and Canterbury Cathedral as part of the ‘Sensing Culture’ project, aiming to open the arts and heritage to blind and partially sighted visitors.
Most recently she’s been in talks over a new exhibition at the Moorfield Eye Hospital, which she described as “so exciting - it’s the Holy Grail.”
She said the best part of the BEM was seeing what people had written about her work.
“It’s overwhelming,” she added.
"I can’t quite get my head around it. Seeing what everyone that’s been involved have written - it’s like ‘oh my gosh’. It’s wonderful affirmation.”
Also celebrating with a gong from the 2018 New Year Honours list will be Mr Ramsgate.
Ralph Hoult has been awarded an OBE for services to the community.
And it won’t be his first visit to Buckingham Palace.
He said: “I went to a garden party there some years ago.
“I’m really pleased with my award as I’ve always been a bit of a royalist.
“I organised street parties for the Queen’s Silver and Golden Jubilees and a beach party for
her 90th birthday in 2016.
“I met the Queen at a lunch in Canterbury during her Golden Jubilee year. I was invited in my role as chairman of the Sea Cadets and took one of them along with me.”
Mr Hoult, who turned 74 on Christmas Day, was an independent councillor for two years for Central Harbour ward on Ramsgate Town Council and was made deputy mayor at his first meeting.
He joined the RAF in 1960 as a 16-year-old, spending 12 years with the force. He then worked for Argos and in 1978 he opened Ralph Hoult Photographic Studio in Park Road.
He set up Starlite Entertainers 37 years ago with acts including Ramsgate Operatic Society, magicians and dance groups.
The group has raised more than a quarter of a million pounds for charity and has staged more than 700 shows across Thanet since the early 1980s at venues including the Margate Winter Gardens, the Theatre Royal and the Granville theatre.
Ramsgate Events Group, a spin-off from Starlite also organised outdoor events.
And now once a month he does slideshows at the Custom House on the town’s history, along with hosting ceremonies including the Obelisk awards and the Make Me A Star contest.
Among his community roles set up and chairman of Ramsgate Events Organisers, which helps all major events organisers of the carnival Ellington Park fairs.
Mr Hoult, whose family moved to Thanet when he was six months old, is married to Jean.
The couple have three sons and two grandchildren. And he is showing no sign of putting his feet up in 2018.
In January he is starting a regular history workshop, with the aim of eventually setting up a Ramsgate museum with the help of his collection of 4,000 pictures of town.
And February 14 will see the start of his senior citizens club in the community room of Tesco in Broadstairs.
Later in the year he aims to set up a weekly friendship club for senior citizens in Ramsgate, with a venue yet to be decided.
A former Kent Police Inspector is another recognised in the New Year's Honours List.
Joe Holness, who retired in July after a policing career spanning 32 years will be made an OBE for his work as founder of the National Police Memorial Day (NPMD).
He founded the body in 2000 following the death of fellow police officer Jon Odell, who was killed on duty at Margate in December 2000.
PC Odell was carrying out road safety checks in Shottendane Road when he was hit by a car that failed to stop.
The driver was subsequently charged with manslaughter and sentenced to nine years in prison.
The NPMD has become an important annual event which is supported by royalty, government and UK police forces.
The service attracts hundreds of people and is held in one of the four countries of the United Kingdom each year.
Joe said: “Following the sad death of my colleague, PC Jon Odell, I made enquiries with Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary which showed that since the first salaried constables were created by an act of parliament in 1792, more than 4,000 police officers have paid the ultimate sacrifice throughout the United Kingdom.
“I was determined that there should be a fitting annual day of remembrance to honour our fallen colleagues, to demonstrate that their sacrifice is not forgotten and to recognise the dedication to duty and courage displayed by police officers.
“I was thrilled, having managed to persuade HRH the Prince of Wales to be our patron, that he should be in attendance in my final service at St Paul’s Cathedral in 2016 before retiring.
“The congregation was 2,000 strong and also included Amber Rudd the Home Secretary, police officers from 16 overseas countries, together with colleagues, friends and families from across the United Kingdom.
"A guard of honour of 80 police horses lined the route to Saint Pauls and NPAS (National Police Air Service) provided a fly past.
“I’m so pleased the National Police Memorial Day has become such an important annual event and I’m humbled and honoured to have my efforts rewarded in this way.”
Joe was awarded the Queens Police Medal (QPM) in the 2008 Honours List, and his wife Sharon was awarded an MBE in last year’s awards for her role as deputy co-ordinator of the NPMD.
The OBE is also in recognition of his work in re-establishing Kent Police’s Gypsy Liaison Team which has built closer links between the police and gypsy and traveller communities.
Samenua Sesher, a writer who lives in the Folkestone's Creative Quarter, received an OBE for her services to art.
The founder of Blade of Grass, a Consultancy office for creative projects on The Old High Street, said she is: "On the front line of the fight against inequality in the arts and cultural world.”
Aside from her award, the artist said: “Some of my best memories of 2017 will be of doing group tours of our fabulous Triennial.
"Sharing really good public art with enthusiastic people is utter joy.”
Ms Sesher has also been an Associate at People’s Palace Projects since the beginning of 2015, an Artist Fellow at Queen Mary University of London and an independent Executive Coach.
Upon completion of her studies at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, she was a Creative Director and Head of Culture for The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea from 2009 to 2012.
Meanwhile, Stephanie Karpetas, of Sandgate, was awarded an OBE for her community service to East Kent.
She has been the owner of Sustainability Connections for almost seven years.
The enterprise in Upper Corniche, was designed to help local society live more sustainably in terms of food, home and environment.
They aim to be an energy supplier. She is also the current Director of Orchard Community Energy, in Swale, Kent’s first large-scale solar farm to be owned by the local community.
Ms Karpetas previously worked as a manager in sustainable construction at Ashford Borough Council from 2011 to 2014.
Meanwhile, a modest professional singer, turned teacher, is over the moon after being recognised for her services to music.
Sandra Booer, 56, of High Road, Wilmington is to receive a British Empire Medal, which marks people’s service to their profession and community, after her pupils applied for her to receive the award.
The singing coach, who runs Vocalise, an adult choir, and The Movers and The Shakers, a music group which originated from Dartford’s Parkinson Society, among others in the town, trained in classical music and went to the Royal College of Music.
She said: “It’s lovely. I will believe the award when I get it.
“I think some of my pupils got together and did the paper work to put me forward for the award.
“I’m very proud; it’s mainly down to my choirs I run. A lot of people are doing the same things as I am.
“There are a lot of singing teachers and people who run choirs or make things happen in the community who need to be recognised.
“I don’t know anything about the award. I think I get it from the lord Lieutenant of Kent.
“It makes me sound like a hundred and two.”
She added: “I started out as a professional singer and now I just teach singing to all ages from babies to my oldest pupil who was 89.
“Singing is a wonderful thing, it makes people feel better. It is a fantastic community where people look after each other.
“The award is very unexpected. Nothing has changed.
“I suppose I just go on doing the same thing, teaching in the schools and choirs and for my pupils.
“I told my close family, husband and children when I found out about it but I kept it secret from everyone else.”
Brigadier John Ridge, from Tunbridge Wells, was one of 109 service personnel honoured by The Queen.
The 46-year-old, who got a CBE, is credited with saving millions of pounds by deploying Sappers on a punishingly complex construction task in the Falkland Islands.
He has also been pivotal to supporting fuel, prison and fire strikes as well as contributing "colossal amounts of support" to the Environment Agency during recent catastrophic flooding in northern England.
"I am tremendously honoured to have been recognised in the Queen's New Year's Honours List, but at the same time slightly embarrassed to end up receiving what is really an award for the Herculean efforts of 8 Engineer Brigade whilst I happened to be at its helm.
"While I commanded it, around 1,500 or so of the 10,000 officers and soldiers in the Brigade were preparing for, deployed on or recovering from operations at any time.
"This included construction projects in the Falkland Islands, training forces in Iraq, disposing of Second World War bombs and IEDs in the UK, and delivering engineer support to the UN in South Sudan.
"The Brigade's adaptability, professionalism and sheer hard work impressed me every single day I had the privilege to command it.
"Each man and woman in it therefore deserves the recognition that this award represents. I am flattered to accept it on their behalf."
The honours in full
Howard Charles Fraser Riddle. Formerly Senior District Judge (chief Magistrate) for England and Wales. For services to the Administration of Justice. (Kent)
David James Edwin Stephens. Director of Resources (Army) HM Armed Forces, Ministry of Defence. For services to Defence. (Kent)
Ms Sarah Alexander. Chief executive and Artistic director National Youth Orchestra. For services to Music. (Tunbridge Wells, Kent)
Nicholas Byron Drinkal. Deputy director Border Force, Home Office. For services to Border Security in Calais and Dunkirk. (Dover, Kent)
Ian Trevor Edwards. Executive vice president Spectrum Geo. For services to the UK Oil and Gas Exploration Industry. (Kent)
Joseph Holness, QPM. Formerly Inspector, Kent Police. For services to Policing and the National Police Memorial Day. (Folkstone, Kent)
Ralph Christopher Hoult. For services to the community in Ramsgate Kent. (Ramsgate, Kent)
Ms Stephanie Jane Karpetas. Founder and director Sustainability Connections CIC and director, Orchard Community Energy. For services to the community in East Kent. (Folkestone, Kent)
Ms Samenua Sesher. Coach and Culture Management consultant. For services to Art. (Folkestone, Kent)
Robert Henry Bagley. For services to Disadvantaged Children and the community in Canterbury. (Canterbury, Kent)
Ms Karyn Dunning. Head of Detained Casework Immigration Enforcement, Home Office. For services to Asylum and Humanitarian Operations. (Kent)
Mrs Carolyn Anne McVittie. Managing director, Stepahead. For services to Children and Families. (Ashford, Kent)
Mrs Sandra Jane Booer. For services to Music and the community in Dartford. (Dartford, Kent)
Ms Wendy Elizabeth Daws. For voluntary service to Visually Impaired People in North Kent. (Rochester, Kent)
Mrs Anne Danson Forbes. Refugee Resettlement Co-ordinator, Ashford Borough Council. For services to the Resettlement of Syrian Refugees in the UK. (Ashford, Kent)
Dr Norman Wesley Francis Berkeley Hill. For services to Music in Kent.
Mrs Alison Margaret Reynolds. For services to community Sport in Kent. (Faversham, Kent)
John Charles Thompson. Administrative Officer, Detection Technology Management Unit, Border Force South and Europe, Home Office. For services to Border Security. (Dover, Kent)
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