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Queen honours Devon's unsung heroes

By This is Exeter  |  Posted: December 31, 2009

  • SERVICE: Scout leader Bob Ball has been awarded an MBE by the Queen GARETH WILLIAMS EE291209_GW04_04

  • Bob Ball with his wife Barbara EE291209_GW04_03

  • Top, Bob Ball on his retirement from the police in 1997. Above left, Bob at Windermere in 1962, his first summer camp as a leader. Right, investing a new Senior Scout in the New Forest in 1964

  • CAMPAIGN: Gwyneth Dickinson, President of the Macular Disease Society GARETH WILLIAMS EE291209_GW03_01

  • RICH PATTERN: Janet Stoyel from Sheldon, near Honiton, has been honoured for services to the textile industry MATTHEW AUSTIN XCC10001_MA_05

  • Paul Jones

  • Melanie McLoughlin

  • Ronald Vaulter

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TIRELESS service to young people, education and the community have led to recognition for Devon residents in the Queen’s New Year honours list.

Among those now looking forward to a trip to Buckingham Palace is long-serving Exeter Scout leader Bob Ball, who has received an MBE for services to young people.

Other local unsung heroes honoured for their work included representatives of the Devon Community Foundation, Devon Army Cadet Force and the Macular Disease Society.

Paul Jones, who has spent his career working in state education  in Devon, has been awarded an OBE for services to local and  national education.

Mr Jones, 55, is executive headteacher at four Devon primary  schools — Lady Seaward’s in Clyst St George, Chudleigh  Knighton, Salcombe and Blackpool, near Bovey Tracey.

A former headteacher at Exeter’s Summerway Middle School, he has also worked with the National College for School Leadership to promote and develop the concept of school federations, which  he helped pioneer in Devon.

Mr Jones trained at Rolle College in Exmouth and started  teaching at a travellers’ site in Sowton.

He lives in Exmouth with his wife Judith, 54, a teacher at the  town’s community college, and their children Joshua, 18, and Ella,  15.

On receiving the honour, Mr Jones said: “I didn’t expect it at all.  It’s really pleasing — it’s nice to feel that people working  within the state education system can really make their own mark.

  “It’s a long way from being a student at Rolle College and getting  my first teaching job on a gypsy site. It has been a very exciting  journey and it’s very pleasing to be recognised.”

Mr Ball, 65, started Scouting in 1952 in south London. In 1989 he moved to Devon, where he became leader at 2nd Exeter Scout Group, a position he held for seven years.

Following his retirement in 1997, the former police chief superintendent was appointed assistant district commissioner (adult training) and in 2003 he became district commissioner for Exeter. After his tenure ended he returned to front-line Scouting, taking the appointment of Explorer Scout leader in Exeter, where he runs the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme and the young leader section for Explorer Scouts aged between 14 and 18.

In 1997 he became the mountain activities adviser for the Devon Scout County, a post he still holds, training and assessing both young people and adults in mountain and moorland skills.

In 1999, he also joined the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme Dartmoor Expedition Panel, regularly spending many days on Dartmoor supervising and assessing young people completing their gold award expedition.

Mr Ball’s service to the community has also taken other directions. He joined the Territorial Army in 1959, serving for eight years and rising to the rank of sergeant. He is also a trainer with the St John Ambulance, which he joined in 1989.

On being awarded the MBE, Mr Ball said: “I was very surprised. All I have ever done is what I thoroughly enjoyed and I believe is important.   I am pleased to see someone has recognised my efforts, but I am not doing anything different to lots of other people.

“It is a lovely honour and it is nice for the family and my wife Barbara, who has had to put up with 50 years of Scouting.”

Melanie McLoughlin, of Exeter, was also awarded the MBE for her services to the Devon Community Foundation. The foundation distributes grants to small voluntary and community groups across Devon, supporting everything from youth clubs to lunch clubs for the elderly, help for the disabled and mentally ill and support for the homeless.

Janet Stoyel, 60, of Honiton, was made an MBE for her services to the textile industry.

An internationally renowned expert in her field, she won a Craft Council Start Up Award to establish the Cloth Clinic, which has been serving architects, interior specialists, fashion designers, galleries and boutiques since 1994.

She has worked with the likes of Zandra Rhodes, Burberry, Paul Smith and Gucci in the fashion world, and her private commissions have ranged from a woven steel interior for a restaurant in Tokyo to exotic lengths of textile for the film Lost in Space. She is a Fellow of the Society of Designer Craftsmen and a member of the European Textile Network.

Sheelagh Michelmore was made an MBE for her services to the community in Sidmouth. Now in her 70s, she has lived in the town since she was a young girl and has been involved in a wide range of community groups and projects.

She is president of the Sidmouth Victoria Hospital Comfort Fund and has also been involved with the St John Ambulance, helping it gain its original headquarters in the town.

She was also part of the Sidmouth Twinning Circle and was involved in its twinning with Lacle in Switzerland in the 1980s. She is on the Sidmouth College governing board and started the Sidmouth International School in 1976, which has now grown into one of the largest in the South West.

On being told of her award, she said: “I was amazed, stunned and  very honoured. I had no idea whatsoever it was coming and have only told my family so far.

“I always say it is a great privilege to live in Sidmouth and the least I can do is contribute to life in the community in any way I can.”

Youth work stalwart Ronald Vaulter has been given an MBE for  services to the community in South Devon.

Mr Vaulter, who is in his 80s and lives near Newton Abbot, has  been involved in activities for young people since the 1940s,  managing Shaldon Villa youth football club and later running a  cycle speedway club in Shaldon.

He still spends four nights a week volunteering at youth clubs at  the Ice House and the East Cliff Centre in Teignmouth. He has also  helped campaign for a skate park in the town.

“It keeps me young,” said the retired British Rail worker.

He admitted the MBE had come as a shock, adding: “It’s quite an  honour. You want to help kids and one doesn’t think about  anything like this. I have told hardly anybody — only my  cousin.”

Also awarded MBEs were Major Graham Emond, for his work with the Devon Army Cadet Force, and Dr Christopher Rowland, for services to the Friends of the Oncology and Radiotherapy Cen tre in Exeter. Among the civil servants honoured this year was Gillian Hardy,  from Newton Abbot, who was given an MBE for her work as  higher executive officer for Jobcentre Plus.

Paul Lambert, chairman of the Derbyshire Family Association (DFA), who lives in Tiverton, was also made an MBE for services to maritime safety.

Paul lost his brother, Peter Lambert, when the Derbyshire sank off the coast of Japan in 1980. In total 44 people died when the cargo carrier was lost during a typhoon. He has since campaigned relentlessly, first for a formal investigation, then for a search to be made for the wreck, then for the formal investigation to be reopened.

He now continues to work actively to encourage safer merchant shipping.

Elsewhere, Gwyneth Dickinson, a former nurse from Okehampton, was honoured with an MBE for her tireless voluntary work as a trustee, chairman and now president of the Macular Disease Society (MDS).

She joined the society in 1997 when she was herself diagnosed with macular disease (MD), a devastating condition which causes sight loss.

Gwyneth immediately began working to improve care for local people with the condition. She became a trustee of the national society soon after and was appointed chairman in 2002.

In spite of her own worsening sight she led the charity through a rapid expansion.

Her work continues today in her role as president and she is also chairman of the Devon County Association for the Blind.

She said: “I am very proud of the MDS and its volunteers and staff.

“I feel that people with MD now have a voice in the form of the Macular Disease Society. Life for people newly diagnosed with MD is still very tough but it is made much more bearable by the society.”

Gwyneth has travelled  extensively in the UK visiting local groups and encouraging volunteers and members. Her husband, John, is her chauffeur as her sight loss has meant she has not been   able to drive for some years. She confessed  she initially thought the official-looking letterhead from the Queen was a “parking ticket for my husband”.

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    Sue Crosswell, Exeter  |  December 31 2009, 8:21AM

    This award is well deserved, more adults should giveup time to help the youth of today. Well done Bob you are a credit to the West Country

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