Norfolk community stalwarts are awarded British Empire Medals
PUBLISHED: 16:14 11 May 2018 | UPDATED: 16:14 11 May 2018
Copyright: Archant 2018
The hard work of community champions has been recognised today, as three Norfolk men and women were awarded the British Empire Medal.
The north Norfolk recipients were awarded the honour by the county’s Lord Lieutenant Richard Jewson at a ceremony in Norwich, who said they should be “justifiably proud” of their awards.
First to receive her award was Brancaster’s Janet Lake, for her 52 years’ of service to Brancaster Parish Council.
Giles Margarson came next, thanked for his work in his home town of Aylsham, perhaps most notably for turning it into a plastic bag-free town.
Last to recieve his award was Alan Witham, whose family have lived in the village of Erpingham since the mid-1800s.
And Mr Witham is certainly doing his ancestors proud, having established many hugely successful projects such as the Aylsham boxing club.
Mr Witham, 57, was first assistant coach and then head coach at the club, which saw local legends Liam and Ryan Walsh rise to international success.
Now Mr Witham has set his sights on a new project, which will not only shape the future of Erpingham, but also the knowledge of its past.
In 2015 Mr Witham set out to help the town remember the Battle of Agincourt, and how the town’s namesake Thomas Erpingham was involved.
“And our new project grew from there. We now want to excavate the remains of Erpingham’s Hall. We’ve found the four walls of the manor and it’s 2,800 square feet. It was a huge place, much bigger than we thought,” explained Mr Witham.
The father-of-two continued: “A professional archeologist lives in the village and we’re reporting all of our findings to Gressenhall so it’s being properly recorded.
“What we want to do is get funding to buy the land and have archaeolgical digs, and get the public and local schools to do the digging. You always see these things going on, but it’s the same people doing it and everyone else watching.” He added: “We also want it to act as a base for historic craft workers like stonemasons and pottery makers, so that whenever they need they can come, set up a base, and show the community what’s on offer.”
Janet Lake has been awarded the British Empire Medal for services to the community in Brancaster.
“If you live in Brancaster, you know Janet.”
This was how Janet Lake was introduced in her citation ahead of receiving her British Empire Medal.
81-year-old Mrs Lake has lived in Brancaster all her life, and has seen the council which she has served for 52 years through the highs and lows of a changing community.
She said: “It’s not really about the highlights of the 52 years, it’s about the changes. We’ve got so many more second-home owners now so we’ve had to work to keep the community together.
“We’ve also battled to keep some of our amenities. I was a school governor and we really had to fight for the school. Growing up and seeing them move away because of house prices was really sad, so I joined the Brancaster Housing Society to help people that grew up here, stay.”
Giles Margarson has been awarded the British Empire Medal for services to the community in Aylsham.
It seems that there is not a community initiative which happens in Aylsham, in which Giles Margarson is not somehow involved. The former councillor was thanked for his part in turning the town plastic bag-free, after 120 businesses in the town signed up to the project.
Mr Margarson was also involved in a £140,000 project to restore church ruins in the town, with many other volunteering roles beside. The father-of-two said: “It’s not about the award, it’s about the projects we’ve done and will continue to do.
“When I first got the letter through I saw her Majesty’s seal on it and thought ‘Oh no what’ve I done!’ and then when I read it I was so pleased.
“You get nominated for the award, so it’s lovely to know someone’s done that. I don’t know who nominated me but I have my suspicions. It’s not about knowing though, and it’s lovely to be recognised.”