Lancashire community heroes named in the Queen’s Honours List

Stella Hayes
Stella Hayes
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Four community heroes have been honoured with MBEs in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List. Jennifer Billington, Colin Mustoe, Stella Hayes and Kevin Horkin will receive awards for their outstanding service to the community.

Mrs Billington, 59, deputy headteacher at Sir Tom Finney Community High School in Preston said the award was very unexpected.

Kevin Horkin

Kevin Horkin

Mrs Billington, from Catforth, was honoured for services to special educational needs and disabilities.

She said: “I’m still quite shocked.

“I knew nothing about it until I got a letter in May and I’ve had to keep it quiet since then, which hasn’t been easy.”

The grandmother-of-six began teaching in 1978 in a children’s hospital in Ormskirk, before moving to Moorfield School in Preston, where she taught children with physical difficulties.

Colin Mustoe

Colin Mustoe

After a short break to raise her three children, she returned to Moorfield and worked her way to become acting head.

During reorganisation in 2008, she took up the role of deputy head teacher in the secondary school section, which became Sir Tom Finney Community High School, a role she has retained ever since.

Another to receive the MBE is former town mayor of Clitheroe and MP candidate for Hyndburn, Kevin Horkin, for services to charity and to the community in Clitheroe,

“I was absolutely thrilled,” the 54-year-old said. “It’s always nice to get some recognition but it came completely out of the blue and certainly something I didn’t expect.”

Christopher Bannister

Christopher Bannister

Mr Horkin, from Clitheroe, founded the Pet Role Trust, which is devoted to improving animal health and welfare through fundraising. He was also a trustee of the Lord’s House Farm, which provides support for disabled and disadvantaged adults.

He then became involved in the Kirsty Club Appeal, a charitable foundation that raised £5m for the Francis Hospice, where he continues as patron.

In 2014 he was elected to serve as the town mayor of Clitheroe and in his quest to raise over £100,000 for good causes in the area he opened up a charity shop.

His mayor’s ball raised more than £7,000 in one evening.

“I started working with Samaritans at the age of 18 and I was a councillor at the age of 22,” he said.

“I think what gave me the bug for charity work and I would encourage anyone to get involved.

“I graciously accept the MBE on behalf of everyone I have worked with.”

Colin Mustoe, 71 from Ribchester, is another Lancastrian to receive the MBE.

The chairman of Senator International will be given the award for services to manufacturing and charity in North West England.

“I’m very happy and very proud to get the award,” he said.

“I think it’s a reflection of the work of all the 1,400 working for the company.”

Mr Mustoe set up the office furniture manufacturer in 1977 after moving up from London in his early 20s.

“It’s gone from what I’d call a one-man band to now having 1,400 staff,” he said. “It’s very much a family affair with my sons and daughters working for the company.

“I’m not as involved as I used to be.”

The company was also behind setting up the Blackburn Youth Zone, which is open to young people aged eight to 18 years old, aiming to change the prospects offered to young people in the area.

Mr Mustoe is also the chairman for Royal Lancashire Agricultural Society which puts on the annual Royal Lancashire Show.

Another local hero to receive the MBE is 71-year-old Stella Hayes for services to the Samaritans, particularly at HM Prison Preston.

Stella, from Preston, has provided a dedicated service to the Samaritans and HMP Preston for over 25 years.

As a Samaritan, she set up a scheme whereby prisoners could have contact with them to provide support.

They went to visit Garth, Wymott, Kirkham and Preston prisons where they saw first-hand the need for support within the prisons.

She would go around the prison, listening to anyone who wished to speak to her. She would speak to men in danger of suicide who just needed someone to recognise their existence.

After several years the scheme became more prevalent around the country, she and some other Samaritans trained their own listeners within the prisons.

By training prisoners with their own experiences, it created a 24/7 service for their peers.

The scheme has now evolved and standardised nationally with over 1,500 prisoners trained as listeners. It often gives them skills for the outside world and a new found understanding of others.

She has been the most active member of the Samaritan Prison Listening Scheme, presented with a British Citizen Award recognising her tireless work for the Samaritans.

Among the other awards on the list, former senior traffic commissioner for Great Britain, Beverely Bell from Mawdesley, will receive a CBE for services to road safety and the freight industry.

Manager at Preston Glades Care Home, Jacqui Longden, 56, is set to receive a British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to veterans.

Christopher Bannister, 72, from Preston, will also receive a BEM for services to the community in Newton and Clifton, Lancashire.

And Thomas Wells, estate foreman for the Duchy of Lancaster, will be a given a Royal Victorian Medal by the Queen.

Nationally, Scottish comedian Billy Connolly is set to receive a knighthood and popstar Ed Sheeran will be given an MBE as just two of the hundreds set be honoured on the Queen’s honours list.