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Army veterans and Olympic champions receive honours
Published 09/01/17

TWO army veterans from Henley and a number of international rowers were among those to be recognised in the New Year honours.

Brigadier Malcolm Page, 90, of Ancastle Green, and Brian Hughes, 84, of Harpsden Road, were both honoured for voluntary service to former armed services personnel.

Mr Page was made an MBE and Mr Hughes was awarded the British Empire Medal.

Every member of the gold-winning men’s eight at the Rio Olympics, including six members of Leander Club in Henley, was honoured.

Other recipients from the Henley area included a banker, a physiotherapy expert and a charity chief executive.

Mr Page was honoured for his work with the Royal Commonwealth Ex-Services League, which helps former servicemen and women who served the Crown and are now in need.

He is a former UK chairman of the League and was a member of its council for 22 years before stepping down in May. He administered funds to veterans of the Somaliland Scouts, of which there are now only about 140 survivors.

Mr Page was a member of the Scouts from 1947 to 1951. He joined the army in 1952, when he was 18, and served in India, the Middle East and East Africa over a period of 26 years.

After leaving the army, he worked for International Computers and then Siemens.

Mr Page said he was “delighted and flattered” to be honoured.

“I wasn’t expecting anything,” he said. “Some of my fellow council members do much more than I do.

“As much as anything else, no one else seemed to take an interest in the Somaliland veterans.

“One does one’s best for one’s blokes. You demand the best from them when they are serving so you have to do your best for them afterwards.”

Mr Page established the Henley Borama Friendship Association in the Eighties after visiting Somalia as a guest of the government.

He is also president of the Henley and Peppard branch of the Royal British Legion and has received the Henley town medal.

Mr Hughes is a fund-raiser and standard bearer for the branch.

He was conscripted into the army in 1950 as part of the Royal Army Service Corps and served during the Suez Emergency with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers from 1951 to 1952, earning him the GSM medal.

He started collecting for the Poppy Appeal in 1995 and is known for standing in Market Place, regardless of the weather. To date, he has raised more than £60,000.

Mr Hughes started standard bearing in 1999 after applying to an advert in the Henley Standard.

He has carried the branch standard for 17 years and has been the Oxfordshire bearer for 11 years. He has also carried the Henley Group of Dunkirk Veterans’ standard.

He won best standard bearer at the county championships 11 years running.

He takes part in the Remembrance Sunday parade in Henley each year and has also taken part in 80 repatriation parades.

In 2010 he was awarded the Legion’s Gold Badge in recognition of his services and last year he received the Henley town medal.

Mr Hughes said he was pleased to be honoured by the Queen. “I just hope I am worthy of it,” he said. “I think I will feel proud when I come back down to earth.

“I was keeping quiet about it. David Beckham’s wife said she was going to get the OBE and she shouldn’t have done that.

“My wife is very excited about it because of the garden party later in the year.”

He said he was proud to carry the standard and felt it was an important role for the community.

Mr Hughes, who is Henley born and bred, like his parents and grandparents, attended the former Henley Infants School, Trinity School and then the former National School.

He started work in 1947 at Hammants of Henley and stayed there for 50 years, minus his National Service.

His wife Ursula was also born and bred in Henley and the couple will celebrate their diamond wedding anniversary next month. They have two grown-up children.

Mr Hughes said he would continue his Legion work as long as his body allowed.

“I am beginning to feel the passage of time,” he said. “I have already reduced my poppy round by half — it is not easy. I would like to carry on.”

The Leander athletes who were honoured for services to rowing were Will Satch, 27, and Matt Langridge, 33, who live in Henley, Matt Gotrel, 27, Tom Ransley, 31, and cox Phelan Hill, 37, who were all made an MBE, and Pete Reed, 35 who received an OBE.

Andrew Triggs Hodge, 37, from Checkendon, was also awarded an OBE. He rowed for Molesey Boat Club but has now retired. Reed, who is a lieutenant in the Royal Navy, said: “I really am so proud to represent the Royal Navy and our amazing sport of rowing.

“Thank you all for your support. I have had a blast simply doing the best job I ever had.”

Satch said: “I’m feel privileged as to be with such an elite group of people is very special. It means a lot to me but, to be honest, it means a lot more to my mum — she’s over the moon.”

Langrdige tweeted: “By the power of Twitter I’ve just found out I’m off again to see the Queen. Thank you, royal family, for including me in the New Year’s honours.”

Mark Banks, high performance coach at British Rowing and chief coach and director of rowing at Leander Club, said: “I am absolutely delighted that sports people who have put so much time and effort even before they started winning gold medals have been recognised — they deserve it.”

Members of the LTA mixed coxed four that won gold in the Paralympics in Brazil also become an MBE.

They include James Fox, 24, who lives in Henley and rows for University of London Boat Club, Oliver James, 26, a cox for Leander Club, and Daniel Brown, 34, who rows for Upper Thames Rowing Club.

Katherine Grainger, a steward of Henley Royal Regatta, was made a Dame after becoming Great Britain’s most decorated female Olympian in Rio when she won her fifth medal, a silver, in the double sculls with Vicky Thornley, of Leander Club.

Grainger was made an MBE in 2006 and a CBE in 2013 for her services to rowing while her latest honour recognises her wider work in the sport, helping young athletes.

Ronald Emerson, of Remenham Lane, Remenham, was made a CBE for services to international banking and financing small to medium-sized enterprises.

The 69-year-old helped set up the Government’s British Business Bank in 2013 and was its chairman for three years before stepping down in September.

The bank aims to increase the supply of credit to smaller businesses as well as giving advice.

It doesn’t lend or invest directly but works with banks, lenders and venture capital funds. It has made about £7 billion of new money available since its launch.

Mr Emerson was previously chairman of Fairfield Energy, an oil company based in Staines, and has worked in other industries including mining and engineering.

He is a fellow of Oxford University’s Green Templeton College.

Mr Emerson, who lives with his wife Angie and has four grown-up sons, said: “I was surprised, flattered and very pleased to hear about the honour. It’s not the sort of thing you necessarily expect but it’s very much appreciated.

“The bank hit all its targets but it was a phenomenal team effort — I couldn’t have done it without the help of an excellent board.”

Amanda Foister, who lives in Nettlebed, was awarded an OBE for services to young people because of her work at Longridge Activity Centre in Marlow.

She is chief executive of the centre, which provides a range of outdoor adventures for young people of all ages and abilities. She volunteered at the centre as a teenager but it was only in response to a plea from her daughter, who attended Longridge as a sea scout, that she became involved again.

She was part of a team of volunteers who helped save Longridge from closure in 2006 which led eventually to her becoming centre director and creating a charity structure that ensured its future.

Mrs Foister said: “I was both surprised and delighted to be told I was receiving the award because I couldn’t be more proud of the work the team have done in keeping Longridge as an amazing community resource.

“We have had so many challenges through the last 10 years from the Scout Association wanting to close the facility through to the flooding in 2013 which disrupted so much of our work and very recently a challenge from HMRC over VAT.

“It has been a tough few years but we are coming through it in the end.

“I am immensely flattered to be recognised in this way and look forward to continuing to help Longridge and the other charities I now work with to realise their full potential.”

Her new business partnership is helping several other outdoor activity centres around the country and is working with a variety of charities including those helping women who have suffered abuse and those looking at solutions to environmental challenges.

Mrs Foister had a career in advertising in London, working for several large agencies, before leaving the capital to raise a family.

Vicki Goodwin, from Henley, becomes an MBE for services to physiotherapy.

She is a senior research fellow at the University of Exeter, specialising in the care of older people and community rehabilitation, in particular fall prevention and Parkinson’s.

In 2015 she was made a fellow of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy for “significant contribution to the development of services for older people and contribution to the advancement of the physiotherapy profession”.

Dr Steven Chase, Thames Valley Police assistant chief officer and director of people, was awarded an OBE for his work in rolling out a code of ethics and improving workforce climate and staff engagement.

Published 09/01/17

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