Investiture Ceremony July 2023

The Monastery Manchester

In a ceremony at The Monastery, Manchester, on the 4th July 2023, 8 Honour’s Recipients received their medals from The Lord-Lieutenant. The Vice Lord-Lieutenant and all the recipients’ home town Mayors were also in attendance to help and to congratulate them all.

There were 7 recipients of the British Empire Medal and also a recipient of an MBE who attended with friends and family to celebrate their fantastic achievements in the wonderful setting of the Great Nave at The Monastery.

Co-op Academy Choir

A choir from the Co-op Academy Manchester also sang before and after the ceremony and lead everyone singing the National Anthem.

The recipients and their guests from across Greater Manchester listened to the citations which were read out by the Vice Lord-Lieutenant and broke into applause as each of the stories were revealed and each walked forward to receive their medals from the Lord-Lieutenant.

The recipients and their stories are as follows:

Christopher Paul Ashworth BEM (Tameside)

Chris is the Estates Manager at Ashton Sixth Form College. He was pivotal in ensuring that the college staff were safe, and that the college was a healthy place to return to work after the Covid Pandemic lockdowns, during which he was on site every day making sure that everywhere was secure.

Once decisions were made about the return to work, he single-handedly sourced the required PPE and cleaning equipment, and worked tirelessly with one other member of his team to make the necessary changes to classrooms including removing furniture and reconfiguring classroom layouts to meet COVID requirements and installing Perspex screens. He even took deliveries at home whilst the college was shut. Chris also organised and completed a one-way system for the college and worked across jobs which were not in his area. He turned his hand to reprographics, printing posters for the return and he took time to learn how to don and doff PPE correctly and then trained all the cleaning team and the first aiders, so they were comfortable in its use. He did all of this with his customary cheerfulness.

In addition, Chris supported the NHS and local people. His wife is a staff nurse at Tameside Hospital, and he helped support their work by providing PPE and helped elderly residents with shopping and errands. He did all of this in addition to his day job, with most of his team either shielding or unable to come in as they were vulnerable or furloughed.

In other times, Chris single-handedly saved the college hundreds of thousands of pounds through the renegotiation of contracts, all of which could then be spent on teaching and learning.

Chris is a long-standing member of the college team and is the sort of person every organisation needs. He is hard-working, caring, innovative and can rise to any challenge.

Martyn James Davies BEM (Salford)

Since completing his training Martyn has been driven to improve the lives of people living in care homes, making it another fulfilling chapter of a person’s life.

He bought Urmston Manor at a point when it was rated as inadequate by the Care Quality Commission but within a year had transformed it into an ‘outstanding’ rated home. Martyn focusses on ensuring that the residents are having the best quality of life and feel part of the community.

In each room he makes sure that there is a television showing a personalised photograph slide show. For the dementia residents, their memories are so important, and they really enjoy talking to the care home staff about their very fond memories from the pictures. In addition, each resident has a voice-activated device which will switch their lights on and off and play their own individual music playlists.

His home supports the Manchester Mad Dogs Project, a charity providing meals for the homeless of Manchester. The residents join the care home staff in peeling vegetables and sometimes help deliver meals to homeless people helping the residents to feel a valued part of the wider community. Urmston Manor was also the first in Trafford to link in with a local school where residents meet with the school children removing generational boundaries.

During the pandemic he moved into the home and at the start of the Christmas pandemic lockdown, he bought bird houses for the residents to paint and then put them outside the home for passers-by to take and put up in their gardens.

Martyn also supports Skills for Care in their training plans by supporting the design of training for care home staff to develop in their roles. He set up a local WhatsApp group with all the care home managers to share information about training.

At a time when we have never needed our Adult Social Care nursing teams more, Martyn’s work and leadership have been a beacon in the sector.

Winifred Mary Dignan MBE (Rochdale)

Wyn has been a Non-Executive Director in the NHS for over twenty years. She has chaired NHS Boards at North Manchester Primary Care Trust, Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust and North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust. Wyn’s commitment to the NHS has been exemplary and consistently demonstrated throughout her long and dedicated service as a Chair, by creating an ethos of accountability, openness, integrity and compassion.

Wyn has strived to deliver the very best quality of service to patients and their families, and to put them at the heart of service provision with the key priority being the delivery of high quality, safe services and the best possible patient experience.

Consequently, over the years she has chaired Boards and spent significant time visiting and experiencing front line service provision from both patient and staff perspectives. This further evidences her commitment to establishing a listening and learning culture. Wyn deliberately chooses not to have an office so she can be mobile and visible in her leadership across the Trust and completely engage with Board, clinicians, managers and staff across the NHS organisations, in addition to patients and other key stakeholders.

Wyn has worked passionately and selflessly to motivate staff to make a difference and to improve the quality of services and performance in all the settings she has worked. This involved going the extra mile and investing more hours than is expected of the role. She has spent time on mental health wards on night shifts and with paramedic and patient transport crews. Wyn has met with staff, patients and relatives in times of trauma, loss, anger and distress, and is so inspirational in how empathetic and supportive she always has been in the many occasions there have been over her time in the National Health Service.

Wyn is an excellent role model and much admired and respected.

John (Jack) Patrick Holt BEM (Bolton)

Jack has made an incredible contribution to Bolton Olympic Wrestling Club, volunteering there for over 50 years as a committee member and Chair.

In addition to his visible presence, working on the front desk, most of his selfless contribution is ‘behind the scenes’. Through his resourcefulness and determination, he ensures the club’s building is always well maintained and ready to welcome the diverse range of people who use the club’s facilities. Alongside his own time and labour, he uses his initiative and doggedness to source funding and assistance from local businesses and other tradesmen as well as members to keep the club going. The club is based in a deprived area, but admission prices are amazingly low. This is only possible because of his conscientious efforts and the diligent management of the club’s funds which ensures it remains accessible to all in the community. Jack’s effective running of the club also helps some youngsters to travel to international competitions, ensuring that regardless of means or background, any young talented wrestler can represent their country.

Jack is a real ambassador of the sport and the spirit of wrestling and community. His dedication has kept the club going through good times and bad, surviving recessions and keeping the strong sense of community alive. This is not the only voluntary work which Jack is involved in. For many years, he has carried out building work and maintenance at his local parish churches. Jack has assisted a succession of priests at St Osmund’s and St Andrew’s for over 30 years, even planning out and implementing the re-building of a bar area in St Osmund’s Parish Hall at the age of 79. His zeal for using his skills to help others is boundless.

A Lifetime Fellowship Award winner: Jack is the beating heart of the Club and an unsung hero of Olympic Free Wrestling.

Liam Manton BEM (Manchester) and Mark Smallwood BEM (Trafford)

(Mark was unable to attend on the day)

Liam and Mark are co-founders of Didsbury Gin, a commercial gin distiller. At the outset of the Covid-19 pandemic in the UK they recognised that there was a need for the company to do its part, especially here in Greater Manchester which was one of the hardest hit areas of the country.

In March 2020, Didsbury Gin was one of the first of many businesses across the country to adapt by converting its production to meet a national need in combatting the coronavirus. In their case, by producing hand sanitiser. In the space of just seven days, they produced two million bottles of hand sanitiser which were then distributed to front-line service providers and key workers in the Greater Manchester area including police, adult social care, GP surgeries and local public transport. In April, during the period of national shortages in this area, they procured and donated 35,000 items of PPE to Manchester Social Care. In addition, Liam and Mark worked with the Manchester Bar Network to create job opportunities for those in the hospitality industry who were out of work because of the pandemic.

Liam and Mark are major local participant in the government Kickstart Scheme which is designed to generate good paying job opportunities for young people aged 16-24 who are at risk of unemployment.

They also work as part of the UK Spirits Alliance (UKSA) to highlight the importance of the spirits industry to the UK economy and have met regularly with ministers from HM Treasury to campaign for changes to the system of duties and tariffs on alcohol. The candidate’s work with the UKSA saw many new distilleries open, with the overall number of distilleries increasing from 190 in 2015 to 710 in 2020.

Liam and Mark are conscientious business owners, using their ability and responsibility to benefit the local community and help wider society.

Michael Anthony Newman BEM (Bury)

Born completely blind, Mike always had a passion for cars, so much so, it was his life’s ambition to become a racing driver. This ambition came with many challenges but he worked tirelessly to live his dream; he is now a nine times World Record Holder and is currently the fastest blind man on land and water on the planet. In 2012, Mike set up his charity, Speed of Sight (SOS), founded with the initial purpose of giving driving experiences to blind people who had been told they would never get the chance to get behind the wheel and drive.

SOS now empowers blind and disabled people to drive a car. He and his team travel to all corners of the country to enable people, some with with severe disabilities, to attend their track days. Mike meets participants after each event to gauge their reactions and gets huge satisfaction from hearing someone had the time of their lives.

Initially starting with one sports car, the charity now has four cars, which are used regularly throughout the racing season at circuits all over the UK. They are currently running twenty plus events yearly. Mike never forgot the support he has received throughout his life and named all the cars after his previous guide dogs with each car having its own identity, personality, strengths and role within the charity.

In addition, Mike is an inspirational speaker and promotes positive awareness around disability by speaking on television, encouraging people with sight impairments to do whatever they want to do. SOS also delivers a unique experience for sighted people to understand what driving without that sense is like by using blindfolds. This not only increases awareness of difficulties faced by disability but encourages essential team building skills, such as trust and communication.

Known in racing circles as “Super Human, Mike Newman”, he has made an extraordinary difference to the disabled community, making sure they know that being disabled does not mean that they are unable.

Peter Gordon Nicol BEM (Bury)

Peter has been an outstanding member of Bury College Governing Body since 2004, becoming Chair in 2008. He has inducted and mentored over twenty new Governors, creating an environment where they can constructively contribute and are comfortable challenging leaders. In addition, the college has maintained a strong financial position, which has enabled capital investments of over £50m, creating world-class facilities, whilst delivering outstanding value to the public purse.

Under Peter’s leadership the college has had fantastic results. Over 30% of students are from an ethnic minority background and this cohort are consistently placed among the best in the country. In 2019/20 they were in the top 10% for student progress in Advanced Level 3 courses, top 3% of Further Education Colleges for English progress, and top 6% for maths progress. His unrelenting pursuit of excellence has introduced the Positive Futures initiative which focuses on developing student’s key study, employability and transferable skills to support their progression with around 1,000 students successfully progressing to university and employment every year. To remove barriers, he ensures the college’s Higher Education course fees are among the lowest in the country. As a result, over half of the Higher Education learners come from areas of deprivation.

Peter fosters excellent relationships across the community including with Fisherfield Farm Nurseries and Play Football, securing specialist facilities for the college and helping widen participation. A recent Big Lottery project advocated by him helped support over 500 hard-to-reach residents and was recognised as 2018’s Festival of Learning National Project of the Year.

This commitment has seen the college create Bury College Education Trust in 2014 to support local schools. All primary schools in the Trust have improved their Ofsted rating. Peter also drove the college’s Covid-19 response, including staying open for vulnerable students, making thousands of phone calls and home visits to ensure students remain safe, implementing remote learning, adjustments to classrooms and timetables.

Peter is a shining example of educational leadership in action.

Alison Jean Peek BEM (Salford)

In March 2020 at the start of the pandemic, the National Federation of Women’s Institute were slow in helping its members struggling with the repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic. Whilst some W.I.s had their own websites or Facebook pages; they were not using them to properly interact with their members. In reaction to this, Alison, along with a member from Middlesex, formed the ‘W.I. Wanderers’, a national Facebook group which provided online events every day for members in the safety of their own homes. It quickly had over two and a half thousand members from across the UK.

Alison organised zoom calls, documentaries, exercise classes, art workshops and informative talks for ladies to combat loneliness and anxiety. Many of the women had not spoken to anyone for several days; these online sessions were a welcome relief and lifeline which created support and friendship. This work was alongside a paid job, but she still found the time and inclination to help other women who were struggling in these unprecedented times.

There were obstacles to overcome, with many older members not having the technical skills to use equipment or zoom, but she personally took time to hold one-to-one lessons to teach them, giving them access to wider resources away from the group. This has been a substantial initiative that has been a lifeline to so many and provided a sense of belonging in a time of being alone.

Following on from a virtual meeting with members from Canada, it became very clear to Alison that members do not always want to be entertained; they just want the opportunity to have human interaction. She was determined to continue to provide that service.

The group is hugely successful and now has over 8,000 members. The impact on this group has been enormous, with members being given confidence and self-belonging especially at a time when many could not leave their homes. This would not have been achievable without her commitment, energy and organisation.