King’s Honours List: cricket veteran, cat-lover and council leaders amongst Lancashire folk given a gong

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A Fylde cricket club stalwart, a volunteer for a first aid group and a woman dedicated to the protection of cats join two Lancashire council leaders in gaining recognition in this year’s King’s Birthday Honours List.

While Alistair Bradley, who leads Chorley Council and Lynn Williams, leader of Blackpool Council, each get an MBE, Jason Oldfield, Jean Bolton and Eileen Evans are among those to receive the British Empire Medal (BEM).

Jason has earned the recognition for services to Kirkham and Wesham Cricket Club, where he has been involved for 40 years as player, captain and official and is currently chairman, a post he has held for the last six years.

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Prior to that, he was club secretary for 10 years after more than two decades as a player, which started as a 10-year-old and culminated in 12 years as first team captain.

Lancashire's birthday honours recipients:  Jason Oldfield (centre), Lynn Williams (top left), Jean Bolton (bottom left, front), Alistair Bradley (bottom right) and Eileen Evans (top right, second from right in picture)Lancashire's birthday honours recipients:  Jason Oldfield (centre), Lynn Williams (top left), Jean Bolton (bottom left, front), Alistair Bradley (bottom right) and Eileen Evans (top right, second from right in picture)
Lancashire's birthday honours recipients: Jason Oldfield (centre), Lynn Williams (top left), Jean Bolton (bottom left, front), Alistair Bradley (bottom right) and Eileen Evans (top right, second from right in picture)

The 50-year-old is thoroughly dedicated to the club and is delighted to see it recognised in the Honours List.

"I was shocked when I heard I had been nominated for this award but I’m thrilled and it’s really great to see the grass roots of sport recognised,” he said.

"It’s not just about me, it’s for everything we have achieved at the club in making it a real community hub where everybody feels welcome every day.”

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Jason first became interested in becoming a committee member early in his playing career when he realised the potential in broadening the appeal of the club, off the field as well as on.

"When I was a teenager, the club was rather stuck in its ways and there wasn’t much on offer apart from the teams which played at the weekends,” he said.

"I knew there could be so much more to it and now we have teams for every age group from five as well as a really thriving social scene and something going on right through the week.

"The important thing is everybody is welcome and the club is at the heart of Kirkham and Wesham.”

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Jean Bolton, from Chorley, a stalwart volunteer for the Chorley's Angels also earns a BEM for services to the community.

Chorley’s Angels First Aid Community Group is a not-for-profit voluntary organisation delivering first aid event cover and first aid training to the local community.

The Angels were formed in October 2013 when David and Gail Forrest along with Steph Ashton had a dream to found a more community orientated and member-focused group.

The trio were quickly joined by other like-minded individuals and the group has grown to more than 50 members, including dedicated volunteer Jean.

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Eileen Evans is another BEM recipient, for services to the Protection of Cats in Lancashire.

The Morecambe resident is co-ordinator and a trustee of Lancaster and Morecambe Cat Rescue, which has a shop in Pedder Street, Morecambe, at which Eileen has been a familiar face since its opening in 2022.

Other Lancashire people awarded an OBE in the Birthday Honours List include Peter Vincent Dyer, from Carnforth, who is president of the British Dental Association. He receives the award for services to dentistry, to medicine and to the communities of Silverdale and Lancaster.

Sharon Jane Kemp from Lancaster, chief executive of Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council, is awarded the OBE for services to business and to the community in Rotherham, South Yorkshire.

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David Canning, from Lancaster, head of digital knowledge and information management at the Cabinet Office is an MBE recipient for services to innovation in knowledge and information management.

Bharati Dwarampudi, from Preston, who is advanced customer support senior leader, Department for Work and Pensions, receives an MBE for public service, as does Joanne Kathryn Fitzgerald, of Clitheroe, senior programme manager, NHS England, for services to the NHS; Helen Rebecca Gould, of Lancaster, founder, LPM Dance Company, for charitable services to people with Parkinson's; Frederick Higham of Clitheroe, volunteer, angling environmental groups, for services to protecting and improving the Ribble Catchment; Sarah Randall-Paley, from Carnforth, director of finance, University of Lancaster, for services to Higher Education; and Eleanor Jane Watts, of Leyland, area manager, The Riverside Group, for services to Tackling Homelessness.

Other recipients of the BEM in the county include Dorothy May Ford of Cleveleys, for services in the community in Cleveleys and Jane Rosemary Phythian of Leyland, for services to schools and education in Lancashire.

More than 97 people from the North West have received honours in The King’s Birthday Honours List this year, accounting for 9.2 per cent of the total number of recipients.

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The leader of Chorley Council says the MBE he has received in the King’s Birthday Honours list is an accolade for the entire borough – and the people who make it the community-minded place that it is.

Alistair Bradley told the Local Democracy Reporting Service he was in two minds about whether to accept the gong for political and public service, because – even after 12 years heading up the district authority – he still struggles to think of himself as part of “the establishment”.

“I still regard myself as a rebel,” the 55-year-old Labour veteran laughed.

“I didn’t know I’d been nominated and so it came as a total shock. The letter also arrived the day after my dad’s funeral – and, yes, it was an honour, but then part of me thought, ‘Do I accept it or do I not?’

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“But my wife said, ‘What would your Dad want you to do?’ And then I also realised that it’s not about myself – it’s recognition of what we’ve done in Chorley.

“It’s a great place – most people say they really like Chorley because it’s got that sense of community, which a lot of areas have lost. Everybody knows each other – and people actually do things.

“And as community representative, you’re not doing things yourself – you’re enabling others to do what they do. There are people who do much more volunteering, for instance, than I do – but get absolutely zero recognition and zero reward.

“When [the council] does anything here, the community really buys into it – and that’s a reflection of a dynamic, engaged community, which makes my job very easy.

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“Therefore, in the nicest possible way, I don’t think it’s an award for me, it’s an award for Chorley – and I’m a part of that, but I’m only part of it. Therefore, everybody should take some recognition and some satisfaction from it,” Cllr Bradley added.

He said the community spirit of the borough where he was born and bred even extends into the council chamber, where politicians of all colours during his time as leader have always been “batting for Chorley”.

”Your first priority is Chorley – and your second priority is politics,” he reflected.

The father-of-two also paid tribute to his grown-up children, Euan and Imogen, and his wife of 28 years, Vanessa – all of whom, he says, have made sacrifices to enable him to pursue his political career, while also holding down his day job in the construction sector.

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“There are plenty of [family] events I’ve missed or been late for, because I’ve been trying to juggle 20 different things. Sometimes you get your priorities wrong, don’t you?

“So they have contributed to the honour I’ve been given, because they support me – and I couldn’t do it on my own.”

Asked whether he imagined – when first took up the post – still being Chorley Council leader after 12 years, Cllr Bradley gives a resounding, ‘No.’

But he is clearly not done yet – and now with his MBE in tow, he remains focussed on the borough’s future.

“Watch this space, there is plenty more to come,” he said.

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Blackpool's council leader has been awarded an MBE in the King's Birthday Honours in recognition of her work which includes spearheading the town's ambitious regeneration programme.

Coun Lynn Williams is the first female leader of Blackpool Council and has played a major role in securing hundreds of millions of pounds of Levelling Up funding.

She said the honour for services to local government was acknowledgement of the hard work of many people and the pride everyone felt in striving towards transforming Blackpool.

Cllr Williams said: "I am very proud on behalf of the town and I want it to be for the people who are doing such good things in Blackpool. Not just within the council, but in the voluntary and private sector.

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"It's a combined effort by people working very hard for the town we love so much. The plans for regeneration have been in place before my time, but it has ramped up recently with funding for initiatives such as housing intervention.

"We have to work with government and it is incumbent upon me, as council leader, to get the best for our town and our people.

"It's not enough just having a great vision. It is about showing you are doing it for the right reason and that you can deliver."

Blackpool has received nearly £250m of new funding to turbo-charge regeneration with investment in jobs, education and housing,

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Coun Williams, who works locally as a solicitor and has two daughters, Rosalyn and Grace,with her partner Patrick, added she also took personal pride in the honour.

She said: "My political career was ignited by my own daughter complaining that there was nothing much for young people to do here.

"By standing as a councillor and subsequently being appointed as leader, I have been fortunate enough to help influence the opportunities, facilities and life chances for our young people.

“They represent the future of our wonderful town, I am proud to be able to champion better outcomes for them, their families and all our residents.”

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Cllr Williams has represented Claremont since being elected in 2015 and became the town's first female council leader in 2020.

She has also helped shape improvements to Children's Services, headed a review of youth services and led on the It Stops Here campaign to tackle abuse.

She was also a founder member of the Magic Club, which is now a hub for 400 young people in Claremont, and has been a volunteer for the Citizens Advice Bureau for 30 years.

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