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North Norfolk pair among those honoured by the Queen

Richard Butler, the new Chief Executive for the Church of England in Norfolk.

For: Sarah Brealey

Richard Butler, the new Chief Executive for the Church of England in Norfolk. For: Sarah Brealey

A Swanton Abbott resident who has championed the cause of young people for more than 30 years has been made an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

And he has been joined among those honoured by a former RAF Coltishall station commander, who has been knighted.

● As one of Norfolk’s deputy lieutenants, Richard Butler gets an early look at the list of local people getting honours, so that he can add his comments.

But when it came to being made an MBE in today’s Queen’s Birthday Honours, he was kept out of the loop to ensure that it was a surprise.

Mr Butler, whose award is for services to young people, has been involved in voluntary and paid youth work since the 1970s.

He was the Norfolk Commissioner of the Scouts from 2000-2009, and is currently vice-president of Norfolk Scouts, chairman of the organisation’s national awards board and is on the honours committee for the Scout Association.

His day job, when he is not volunteering with the Scouts, is as chief executive and diocesan secretary for the Diocese of Norwich, where he is in charge of managing the diocesan finances and property.

He said: “I’m just very pleased to receive recognition for something I’ve loved doing. But if I find out who nominated me, they are for it.”

Mr Butler, from Swanton Abbott, near North Walsham, is married to Janet. The couple have two children - Lauren, 21, and 17-year-old Callum.

He said one of the highlights of his work was the Scout jamborees, which he had attended every four years since 1983.

● Air Marshal Chris Harper, a former RAF Coltishall station commander, receives a knighthood.

Sir Christopher, who started his flying career at Coltishall, commanded the Battle of Britain base from 1999-2001 and was back in Norfolk last November to attend a special ceremony at the station where he unveiled a monument honouring all who had served during its 66-year history, until closure in 2006.

He spoke of the 250,000 servicemen and women, including heroes such as Douglas Bader and Sailor Malan, who had been based there since it was developed from a potato field in 1939, and of Coltishall’s “legendary morale”.

During his service at the base, Jaguar pilots from Coltishall helped to enforce the no-fly zone over northern Iraq during Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship. The then Group Captain Harper was mentioned in dispatches for his personal involvement in the operations and was appointed a CBE in 2002.

Sir Christopher, who joined the RAF in 1976, is currently the UK’s military representative to NATO and the European Union, having served for two years as deputy commander Allied Joint Force Command, in the Netherlands.

He is married to Jan and has a son, Ben. Sir Christopher’s hobbies include flying, shooting, gastronomy, running, and riding twin-cylinder motorcycles.


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