British Empire Medal Ceremony at Wigan Town Hall

Oct 31, 2018
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Category: General

Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Greater Manchester, Mr Warren J. Smith, presented The British Empire Medal (BEM) to 8 recipients in a ceremony in the Atrium at Wigan Town Hall on 31st October 2018. The Mayors from all the recipients' home towns also attended the ceremony.
The BEM is awarded for meritous civil or military service worthy of recognition by the Crown and was established in 1922. In 1993 it lay in abeyance in the UK until it was once again issued in 2012, to coincide with Her Majesty The Queen's Diamond Jubilee.
The Lord-Lieutenant said " Today I am particularly privileged to represent Her Majesty The Queen, presenting on her behalf the British Empire Medal. Today’s Medal recipients are true representatives of those who dedicate themselves to the communities within which they live. As Lord-Lieutenant I have had the opportunity and privilege to meet many volunteers and voluntary organisations and I continue to be humbled as I see the contribution and sacrifices some people are prepared to make."
Whilst receiving their medals a brief description of why each were nominated was read to the audience.

JOAN MARY BISHTON
Following retirement as School Secretary at the Sacred Heart Primary School in 1996, Joan became a volunteer Classroom Assistant. For 16 years she helped the teachers by hearing readers, organising craft activities and helping on school trips. Her help with the children made a huge difference enabling some children to get much needed 1-1 attention.
Joan has been an unpaid volunteer for the Wigan and Leigh Hospice for 19 years. As the receptionist, she is the first point of contact for patients, relatives and visitors. Her calm and welcoming manner is a source of comfort for everyone who meets her. She has the natural skill of being able to put everyone at their ease at what can be an extremely daunting time. Nothing is too much trouble for her and she will do her utmost to ensure that they are looked after. She has made a vast difference to the lives of many patients and relatives whilst also acting as an influential role model and support to newly recruited volunteer receptionists. She arranges the collection of donations to the hospice's 13 shops. These are much-needed funds and her efforts help in ensuring that the hospice does not lose out.
She has also been a member of the Parish Council for the last 20 years.
Joan is an invaluable asset to her community and her church.

ELIZABETH COSTELLO
Elizabeth is a dedicated member of the Leigh Community who is committed to working for the benefit of others particularly in the field of the arts and charitable services.
She is a volunteer at the Tyldesley Swimming and Water Polo Club where she completes the club accounts, managing its banking and overseeing policy and governance using her considerable accounting and management skills.
She has been instrumental in establishing the Leigh Film Society which was launched at the Turnpike Centre and is now a Queens Award for Voluntary Service winner. She initially secured funding from local councillors to set up and subsequently obtained lottery funding for additional equipment and to allow for larger capacity audiences.
Trust in Leigh, a charitable organisation that enables and co-ordinates social enterprise approached her to lead the sub group, CreativeLEIGH. Starting from a blank piece of paper and an empty space at the Turnpike, the goal was a for a new arts centre. Local artists were invited to display their work and drama and dance groups were established. An adult and young person's community choir was also formed. She was instrumental in the Turnpike Community Theatre Group moving to the space resulting in capacity audiences at all its performances. She is now a Trustee of the group.
Without her huge voluntary contribution none of this would have been possible.

LESLIE KAY
Leslie has made a significant difference over five decades to the care of Older People in the Jewish community. He initially went into the family horology business as a watchmaker, learning his trade from Swiss Watchmakers and Dealers and has now expanded the family business into one of the major suppliers of timepieces in the UK. He is known as a man of the highest integrity and ethics and when the company expanded he ensured that a percentage of the profits were donated to local charities. He also created employment locally making a huge difference in the Oldham area.
He has had a significant voluntary involvement with Heathlands' Care Village where he remains an active board member. He became a stalwart volunteer and despite being a hard-working businessman, running a significantly large organisation, he has visited the home almost every day from the 1980s onwards. Motivated by his desire to provide the best standard of care possible for the aged, he showed the foresight and courage to lead on a complex merger strategy between the Care Village and the Manchester Jewish Federation. The merger was in fact crucial to the long-term visibility of both organisations in the current socio-economic climate and without him it simply would not have happened.
He is a wonderful example of commitment and passion and truly contributes to society.

SANDRA MATLOW
During the last 50 years Sandra has held numerous voluntary positions.
She set up the Manchester branch of the National Childbirth Trust and was successful in enabling fathers to be present at the birth at a time when this was not the norm. As a member of Burton House Cottage Trust she ensured disadvantaged people benefitted from spending time at a holiday cottage in Wales and given financial help as required. Over 6000 people have benefitted from this.
Whilst a member of the Manchester Airport Consultative Committee, she managed to secure better seating areas, mobile phone charge points and information points among many other successes. She is also a representative of the Airport User Advisory Group advising on the current rebuild.
As a Justice of the Peace she was involved in the Family and Adult Courts and chaired the Training and Development Committee implementing cross bench training and development.
Whilst at the Citizens' Advice Bureau she introduced long service certificates to recognise and reward volunteers and secured funding to improve the building so that there was more space for interviews to take place.
As Chair of the Patient Services and the Women and Children's Health Committee she helped improve women’s services within health centres, clinics and hospitals through the provision of a better patient appointments system.
Sandra’s voluntary contribution to these services is truly outstanding.

RUXMANI THAKORBHAI PATEL
Since 1987 Ruxmani has volunteered at the Shree Krishna Temple, rising to become president, the first woman to hold this position. The Temple is prominent in the UK and serves over 2000 Hindu members. However, her prestigious and busy role does not prevent her from being involved in a wide variety of activities, often managing the temple kitchen where food is cooked for up to 600 people 40 times a year. She leads the Bolton Hindu Forum's sub¬group for 'Women Together', has been involved as an ambassador for ‘Ambition for Ageing’ with the Citizen Volunteer Service and represents the Bolton Hindu Forum at The University of Bolton's Diversity Day.
She has a determination and passion for community work, helping and supporting numerous organisations to raise money for charity. She has volunteered for many different organisations and causes such as the Blue Peter Well Project, Age Concern UK, the Gujarat Earthquake appeal, Coronary Care Appeal and the Nepal Earthquake.
She is a role model for young people and is passionate about ensuring that her culture is passed down to younger generations by helping run Gujarati classes for children at the temple. She makes a difference to people's quality of life, supporting the elderly and visiting hospice patients.
Ruxmani is an outstanding and driven individual who has dedicated most of her life to volunteering and helping others.

RALPH OWEN RUDDEN
Twenty years ago Ralph received a letter addressed to him at the ‘Notorious Racecourse Estate, Sale’. Since then he has worked tirelessly to remove the stigma and restore pride in the area.
In 2007 he established the Sale West and Ashton Partnership (SWAP), bringing together relevant agencies and stakeholders to take an organised approach to improve the area. Under his leadership the number of residents claiming unemployment benefit has dropped significantly and levels of satisfaction as a place to live have notably grown. There is a lack of crime, positive press publicity and a growing waiting list for properties. SWAP is now hailed as a model of good practice in community cohesion by professionals in the field.
In 2011, Ralph fought off competition to secure £1 million of National Lottery Local Trust Funding and Sale West is now one of the Big Local areas across England and he became the founding chair of the Board. He initiated annual polling days to collect residents’ views about life on the estate and this innovative idea is now widely used across other Big Local areas. Subsequently Big Local selected him as one of the first chairs in their national ambassador programme and he instigated the formation of a North West Regional Big Local Chairs' Group to share best practice and a common vision.
Ralph is a shining example of a community leader.

KEVIN TAYLOR
Kevin leads and inspires a group of friends who enjoy an 'eccentric' hobby and fundraise at the same time. He has been Chairman of Hyde Fundraisers for over 33 years, raising over £1 million for charities at both a local and national level. These include Children in Need, Willow Wood Hospice, Children's Heart Unit Fund, the Royal United Hospital Bath, Mencap, and Bluebell Wood Children's Hospice.
Hyde Fundraisers has fun at its heart. Members dress up as sci-fi and popular fiction characters such as Daleks, creating their own costumes some of which take up to three months to make. For over a decade the community looks forward to the annual 'Dalek Invasion' of Hyde town centre which raises funds for a variety of charities in need and boosts the local economy by noticeably increasing footfall in the town centre. The event has become so popular that Kevin has worked with Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council to create a two-day weekend festival to fundraise on an annual basis.
He has forged links with widely recognised organisations such as the BBC and Cineworld in order to raise the profile of Hyde. Kevin has also written and hosted stage shows at the local Hippodrome; ‘The Trial of Davros’, a show written by him, raised £7,500 alone.
Kevin is a dedicated fundraiser with the emphasis definitely on the word fun.

CECILIA WOODS
Since 2006, Cecilia has provided continuous one to one mentor support for some of the most vulnerable and at risk young people at Bolton Lads and Girls Club.
Examples are plentiful including supporting a young pregnant mentee, subsequently becoming Godparent to her child and becoming an integral part of their lives. She supported a girl through college who had been in the care system and had experienced significant difficulties in her life and mentored a boy from a dysfunctional family, providing structure by encouraging him to join Bolton Harriers as a runner; a sport close to her heart.
Cecilia ran the London Marathon raising £652 for the Lads and Girls Club and raised over £3000 for Bolton Hospice by running marathons, fun runs and by taking part in the Midnight Walk. She completed the 3 Peaks Challenge for the British Heart Foundation, organised a country ramble for Children in Need and is a regular volunteer for Parkrun which offers free, weekly 5km runs in the local community. In addition to all this she organises a yearly cake sale for MacMillan.
Cecilia also found the time to help a friend who lived abroad, whose elderly father had no other relatives in Bolton. Over a 3 year period she did his shopping, prepared meals and kept him company until he sadly passed away.
Cecilia is an exceptional, committed volunteer and fundraiser.

During the ceremony the audience and recipients were entertained by a group of students from The Wigan Music Service who were absolutely fabulous throughout and helped make the occasion.

The Lieutenancy would like to thank Wigan Council for their assistance in arranging the ceremony, for the use of the fantastic facilities and to the Worshipful Mayor of Wigan for hosting the event.