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The inspirational Suffolk community champions recognised in New Year Honours including individuals from Bury St Edmunds, Saxmundham, Woodbridge, Hadleigh and Thetford

Community champions and well-known figures have been recognised for their achievements in the New Year Honours.

This year, 105 people in East Anglia have received honours, which is just under nine per cent of the total number of recipients. Among those honoured with links to Suffolk were:

Bryony Peall

Bryony Peall will be handed a British Empire Medal. Picture: supplied.
Bryony Peall will be handed a British Empire Medal. Picture: supplied.

Bryony Peall has been recognised due to her work on the frontlines in Saxmundham during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Bryony, who was described as an ‘exceptional person’ with deep roots in the community, is set to receive the British Empire Medal (BEM) after being tasked by the town council to work with a recently-formed charity, the IP17 Good Neighbour Scheme.

From this, she rapidly set up a support scheme, which included prescription collection and delivery, shopping, the handing out of emergency food parcels and a telephone support service for the vulnerable and lonely.

At its peak 150 people were helping those in need.

And she didn’t stop there.

In 2021, she developed new community support programmes, including a social supermarket, as well as events and meet-ups to tackle loneliness.

Bryony described the feeling of getting her medal as ‘humbling’.

She said: “It is hard to believe possible that my work has been recognised in this way.

“What we achieved during this time would have never have been possible without the tremendous support I had from our volunteers, and the many local organisations and donors, who never seemed to say no to me, even when I felt that I was asking the impossible.”

Bryony will be given the BEM by the Lord-Lieutenant of Suffolk, Clare, Countess of Euston, in the coming months.

Cllr Jeremy Smith, who was the chairman of Saxmundham Town Council between 2019 and 2022, said the authority quickly needed someone to rise to the challenge when Covid struck.

They were certain Bryony had all the qualities needed.

Cllr Smith added: “We’re delighted that her crucial contribution to our town and community has been recognised in this award.”

Melinda Raker
Melinda Raker

Melinda Raker

Melinda Raker, who set up a project to help those in the farming industry with mental health issues, said she was ‘thrilled and hugely honoured’ to be made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE).

Melinda, of Croxton near Thetford, was honoured for her services to rural mental health and wellbeing, mainly as the founder and patron of the YANA (You Are Not Alone) charity.

The scheme started in 2008 with just two counsellors and two GPs providing support to callers on its helpline.

Today, YANA has a full-time charity manager, six members of staff, 22 counsellors, 10 people running the helpline, and has trained 400 mental health first aiders who have worked across Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Essex.

Melinda, who is also one of the Deputy Lieutenants of Norfolk, said: “I have known about it for five weeks, so it is nice to finally be able to tell others.

“I am thrilled and hugely honoured to receive this award, but it is not just for me. There have been some many very special people behind the scenes running the YANA confidential helpline and supporting me personally since we launched. They know who they are: this is for them as well.

“Credit must also go to the 2006 trustees of the Clan Trust who, realising that those in the farming industry were high risk of depression and suicide, decided that they wanted to do something positive about mental health.

“Not only were they ahead of their time but they gave me free rein to research what was needed and then to set up YANA.

“Depression is all too common: it was important to highlight You Are Not Alone. As far as I know, it was the first rural charity to deal specifically with mental health at a time when the subject was rarely mentioned and certainly not in the farming community.

“Thanks to so many people, I believe this legacy has undoubtedly saved and improved lives. It has been a privilege to be involved and this accolade is a tribute to everyone who has played a part in the YANA journey.”

Julian Richmond-Watson

Julian Richmond-Watson, former chairman of the Newmarket-based Thoroughbred Breeders' Association, has been made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to the British Horseracing Industry.

He stepped down as chairman following an eight year tenure at the helm of the TBA at its 106th annual meeting in October. He was the longest serving chairman since the office was introduced in 1962 and also served as a trustee of the organisations for 12 years.

He has also been chairman of Newmarket, Epsom and Nottingham racecourses, senior steward of the Jockey Club and is currently a member of the Thoroughbred Group Board, of which he was recently appointed independent chairman, and the Horserace Betting Levy Board.

Others recognised were:

Officers of the Order of the British Empire

Denise Joan Christie, of Bury St Edmunds – Chair, Elizabeth Casson Trust. For services to occupational therapy.

Anthony Gallagher, of Saxmundham – Chair, National Youth Sector Advisory Board. For services to young people.

Members of the Order of the British Empire

Keith Deller, of Bury St Edmunds – For charitable services to the community in Suffolk.

Dr Christine Paula Futter – lately Chief Operating Officer, Norfolk and Suffolk Care Support Ltd. For services to adult social care.

Jill Sylvia Gladwell, of Stowmarket – Poppy Appeal collector. For voluntary services to the Royal British Legion in Suffolk.

Belinda Elizabeth Gray, of Woodbridge – founder, Art for Cure. For services to breast cancer charities.

Steven Richard Miller, of Bury St Edmunds – Director of Culture and Heritage, Head of Norfolk Museums Service, Norfolk County Council. For services to heritage and tourism.

Caroline Valerie Wright, of Bury St Edmunds – early childhood director, Bright Horizons Nursery. For services to early years education.

Medallists of the Order of the British Empire

Enid Bacon, of Bury St Edmunds – founder, Beck Row Pre-school. For services to early education.

William Michael Bulstrode, of Eye. For services to the community in Framlingham.

Janet Mary Dicks, of Hadleigh. For services to the community in Hadleigh.

Robert Felix Erith, of Bures. For services to the environment in Dedham Vale, Essex and Suffolk.

June Miller. For services to the community in Stanton.

Stephen John Vale. For services to the community in West Stow.