New Year Honours for two hardworking Lancaster charity workers

Barrie Wells.
Barrie Wells.

Lancaster people who have devoted their lives to helping others have been rewarded with an MBE in the New Year Honours.

Barrie Wells will receive his medal for services to seriously ill children while Carolyn Murray was honoured for services to education in South Sudan.

Carolyn Murray with children in South Sudan.

Carolyn Murray with children in South Sudan.

Barrie, 79, who lives in Slyne, is the founder and chair of the Barrie Wells Trust, a charitable organisation set up in 2008 which aims to further the care, relief and convalescence of seriously ill and disabled children and their families.

Barrie is the sole funder of his charity and has personally donated more than £3m to date.

He has funded Olympic athletes including Jessica Ennis-Hill, Beth Tweddle and Katarina Johnson Thompson, who is now patron of the trust.

In return, the athletes deliver workshops through Barrie’s Athletes4Schools scheme, which 35,000 schoolchildren throughout the UK have attended.

Barrie Wells with youngsters at Aintree races.

Barrie Wells with youngsters at Aintree races.

In 2010 Barrie launched Box4Kids, which enables seriously ill children to enjoy a VIP experience in executive boxes at sports and entertainment venues.

More than 9,500 very poorly children and their guests have been able to have once in a lifetime experiences at more than 100 venues across the UK.

Barrie has built a network of 93 hospitals across the UK who nominate deserving children.

He has also created a pool of 50 people at local levels who volunteer their time to host the events.

Barrie thanked many of the people who have helped him with his work.

He said: “I wouldn’t have got the award without Katie, Lucy, Donna and Olivia, my four brilliant colleagues in my offices in Dalton Square, the 150 boxholders who extremely generously donate their VIP boxes to me anything between once to 25 times a year, the 50 friends who give up their time to host the boxes for me throughout the UK as some weekends I might have six different events..I always host the Liverpool box!...and the 100 hospitals who provide us with appropriate kids before each event.”

Carolyn, 63, is the founder of Immanuel Kindergarten Charity, which was set up in 2006 to improve the educational opportunities for the local children and to help rebuild a kindergarten and primary school in Yei, South Sudan, after the war.

Carolyn helped to resource the school so that young children could learn to read, write and learn maths, which allows them to get into upper primary and secondary schools to continue their education.

By 2009 IMK had raised £30,000 and was able to build a larger school to replace the original school.

IMK raised further funds to build a clean drinking water well, and an extra hall has been built to provide a dining hall, additional teaching space and is available for local villagers to rent and use for meetings and events.

The school, which originally taught 50 students, now has more than 350 students.

Carolyn has made numerous self-funded visits to Yei to oversee the projects.

She also set up an early years training programme event for staff from 11 Yei schools who then delivered it to other teachers.

She works to raise funds, organise sponsored skydives, swim marathons, bake sales and more.

“I had just returned from a trip to Yei to celebrate 10 years since the new building was opened,” Carolyn said.

“The letter was in a pile of post waiting for me and as it was mid-election campaign most of it turned out to be letters from party leaders asking for my vote! I assumed this letter was also one of those!

“I was to say the very least surprised and my initial reaction was it was friends’ idea of a joke!

“As the news has started to sink in over the last month I am more and more humbled by being given such an honour and see it as recognition of the dedication of the incredible staff team in Yei who have worked tirelessly to give hundreds of children the best possible start in life despite the ongoing war and instability in the country.”

In addition, Kevin Parkinson – formerly chief finance officer and director of governance with Morecambe Bay Clinical Commissioning Group – has been given an MBE, while chief executive officer and clerk of the council with the Duchy of Lancaster Nathan Thompson has been appointed a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (CVO).

Christopher Noel Kenny, formerly chief fire officer for Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, has been given an OBE for services to the Fire and Rescue Service.