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Community heroes from Chester and Ellesmere Port recognised in New Year Honours

Chester Mystery Plays chairman, scouting stalwart and top residents in Queen's list

 

Chairman of Chester Mystery Plays, Jo Sykes. District Commissioner for Chester and District Scout movement David Bull, Tattenhall community stalwart Graham Spencer, Eaton grandfather Michael Wilson, two police officers, two women from Ellesmere Port and a former clinical director of drug and alcohol services for Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust are all honoured in the 2015 New Year Honours:

Sharon Tinn, BEM

Sharon Tinn was awarded a BEM in the New Year Honours List for services to Learning in the Community(Image: Rob Stratford)
 

A delighted grandmother has said she thought someone was ‘pulling her leg’ when she received a letter saying she had been included in the New Year Honours list.

Hardworking mum-of-four Sharon Tinn has spent more than a decade helping parents back into the workplace, organising classes in schools across Cheshire to allow mums and dads the opportunity to socialise and expand their horizons.

But the 50-year-old, who has lived in the same street in Ellesmere Port all her life, couldn’t believe she had been recognised for her community spirited work – and was so shocked she thought the letter saying she’d got an BEM was a joke.

“I am absolutely chuffed to bits, so surprised,” said Sharon, who works for West Cheshire College in partnership with local schools and children’s centres to put on the term time classes, including cake decorating, arts and craft.

“I found out at the end of November, I couldn’t believe the letter, I was like what is this, I thought someone was pulling my leg.”

“I was in a state of shock, I had no idea.”

Sharon, who has been married to John for 15 years, is modest about her accomplishments despite having started the scheme as a six-month pilot scheme, which has helped numerous parents go back into education, train at the college, go on to university and start new careers and lives.

But her work is something which is close to her heart. When her two oldest kids – 27-year-old Tara and 24-year-old Bradley – were in school, the former businesswoman went back to college and retrained.

“I am just me, there is a team, it is the parents, it’s the schools. Everyone is fantastic, it isn’t just me, we are a team,” addeid Sharon, who is the mum to 10-year-old twins Matthew and Emily.

“I was not the most accomplished person in the world, but I went back to college. It shows it doesn’t matter what age you are, what your circumstances are, you can still change your life.”

Sharon, who said her mum Hazel and Dad Edward were delighted with the news, said that the award was incredible but her real reward was seeing the parents in work after the courses, saying that many now worked in the schools and children’s centres were the classes had been held.

“It is amazing to see the parents out working in the schools, in shops, going to university,” she said.

“It was a six-month pilot project and all these years down the line it is still going strong. I love this community, I love being in the community with people who would not normally do what they are doing now.”

Anne Davies, MBE

Retired management consultant Anne Davies became an MBE in the New Year Honours
 

A retired management consultant who still works three days a week on charity and public boards has become an MBE for her services to the voluntary and social enterprise sectors throughout Cheshire especially in Ellesmere Port.

Described as ‘a very enthusiastic person’, Anne Davies DL said she was honoured to be in the New Year Honours list.

She took to Twitter to thank her family, friends and colleagues for their good wishes.

Married with three daughters and seven grandchildren, Anne seeks to be a champion to the voluntary and social enterprise sector.

She has over 20 years of senior management experience in both the private and voluntary sectors and is said to have brought together education, hands on experience and passion to whatever she has been involved in.

She achieved a number of qualifications in her 30s and 40s, all of which have helped her share her knowledge and experience across numerous organisations.

These culminated in an MBA (Masters in Business Administration) at the age of 47.

Her experience has seen her take many organisations through the Investor in People process.

Anne has volunteered throughout her life and even when she was at home raising her family she volunteered at the CAB and the Probation Service.

During her 15 years in training she chaired numerous bodies at local, regional and national level. She was a founder director of the Adult Learning Inspectorate and a regional counsellor for the CBI.

For nine years from 1997 to 2006 as a non magistrate she was a member of Cheshire’s Advisory Committee for Magistrates which involved recruiting JPs.

She also was part of the recruitment panel that recruited members of Cheshire Police Authority for a number of years.

Her other posts included chairing the Cheshire Children’s Disability Board.

Anne was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant for Cheshire in 2006 in recognition of her contribution to the community.

Local positions held include EPNAVCO as a trustee and vice chairman, the Ellesmere Port Development Board, Wirral Community on Wheels Trust and the main board of Plus Dane.

Anne has spent most of her life in the town.

When not at her caravan, she is singing as a member of the Chester Ladies Choir.

Lady Jean Stoddart, OBE

Community star Lady Jean Stoddart, of Neston, has been recognised for her years of dedication to health services and good causes in Wirral and Merseyside.  Until recently president of Wirral Hospice St John’s, she has been made an OBE for services to health and charity.

Chairman of Chester Mystery Plays Jo Sykes, BEM

Jo Sykes on the set of the 2013 Chester Mystery Plays in the nave of Chester Cathedral(Image: Ian Cooper)
 

The woman behind the critically acclaimed Chester Mystery Plays has been awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) in the New Year Honours list.

Jo Sykes, who was appointed a deputy lieutenant of Cheshire in November 2013, will receive the award for services to drama in Chester.

As chairman of Chester Mystery Plays Ltd, Jo has been involved with the city’s historic event since 1962 when she was still a schoolgirl. She played Mary Magdalene in 1977 and 1982, was invited to join the board in 1993 and took the chair in 2003. She has been involved with every production, which are performed in general every five years, including the 60th anniversary cycle of the modern revival at Chester Cathedral in 2013.

She said: “I do feel honoured. I think it’s lovely, a complete surprise, although what I do is not done for honours, it’s done because I enjoy doing it.”

The British Empire Medal was established in 1922 and awarded to subjects of the United Kingdon until 1992. It was reintroduced in the UK in 2012, to coincide with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

Asked how important her award is for the Chester Mystery Plays Jo replied: “I think it is worthwhile for the heritage of the plays, the city of Chester and the people who are involved in each production. The work I do means I can give back what those people have given me.”

Jo retired from her role as director of registry of services at University College, Chester, now the University of Chester, in 2003 to dedicate more time to the mystery plays. She is married to University of Chester emeritus professor Kevin Sykes and the couple live in Rossett.

She added: “Kevin is an enormously supportive of everything I do and has been since I have known him.”

It was Jane Dawson, business manager of the Chester Mystery Plays, who put Jo’s name forward for the honour.

She said: “I am totally thrilled that Jo has been awarded the BEM. It is a real tribute to her lifetime commitment to the Chester Mystery Plays. It is hard to imagine how this extraordinary community event could happen without her. She works tirelessly on fundraising, marketing, management and tea-making - one of our youngest performers from 2013 described her as ‘the lady that sweeps the floor’!”

“She is a charming and highly effective figurehead, representing Chester Mystery Plays locally, nationally and internationally – one minute she’s on BBC Breakfast, the next handing out leaflets in the city centre in the pouring rain.

“She is Chester Mystery Plays’ greatest champion, keeping an incredible (and hugely enjoyable) part of Chester’s cultural heritage thriving for the benefit of its residents, communities and visitors.”

The Chester Mystery Plays date back to the 14th century when members of the city’s freemen and guilds performed tales from the Old and New Testaments to the city’s populace who didn’t understand church services in Latin.

The next cycle of the Chester Mystery Plays will take place in the nave of Chester Cathedral from June 27-July 14, 2018.

Former District Commissioner for Chester Scouts David Bull, OBE

David Bull, of Westminster Park, has been made an OBE in the New Year Honours for services to young people in the UK and Europe through the Scout movement
 

A retired legal manager has been awarded an OBE in the New Year Honours for services to young people in the UK and Europe through the Scout Movement.

David Bull, 70, from Westminster Park, Chester, has been involved with scouting in various roles over 50 years and ‘chuffed’ his dedication has been recognised.

David, most recently known as District Commissioner for Chester, has also supported scouting overseas for young British people based abroad at diplomatic camps and army bases.

A retired legal manager at Cheshire County Council until 1998, David says scouting allows young people to learn through adventure as well as having ‘a great time’.

He said: “Scouting has developed to meet the needs of young people over the last 100 years and has done that by adapting to new needs and new social situations and I think that’s why it’s such a strong movement and is continuing to grow in numbers. I will do what I can to ensure that continues. It’s probably the reason why I have stayed as long as I have, because I believe we are as relevant now as we were when I first started.”

Married to Janet, with grown-up daughters Sarah and Catherine, David’s whole family has been involved in the scouting movement at different times and in different roles.

After leaving the council, the grandfather-of-four went on to become a self-employed consultant in risk management, advising small businesses and not-for-profit enterprises. Now in retirement, his other community roles include being vice chairman and trustee of Chester Voluntary Action.

David isn’t making a fuss about his award but expects the family will celebrate at some point. “I’m chuffed and honoured. It seems like something from the past really but it’s nice to be recognised along with all the other people who have been recognised as well. Medals are funny things, aren’t they?” he added.

Michael Wilson, of Eaton, MBE

Michael Wilson, is made MBE for services to the community in Eaton and Rushton, pictured with his wife Mary
 

A selfless grandfather who has devoted his life to helping his local community despite battling bowel cancer has been recognised by the Queen.

Michael Wilson has dedicated the past 17 years to the people of Eaton, setting up and running a youth club, putting on film screenings and chairing Rushton Parish Council.

But the 70-year-old, who has been awarded an MBE in the New Year Honours list, said he believed there were people ‘more deserving’ of the accolade than him – but that his 99-year-old mother would be very proud.

“You almost feel like there’s lots of people more deserving, but apparently they think I have done a lot for the parish,” said the grandfather-of-two, who has been chairman of the parish council for the last four years.

“I do feel very humbled by it all. You see, on TV, these people who work so hard with handicapped children, but you don’t ask for this. I’m slightly embarrassed by it all.”

“I haven’t told my 99-year-old mother, Edna, about it yet. I will be ringing her.”

Two years ago Michael was diagnosed with bowel cancer, undergoing major surgery and six months of gruelling chemotherapy, but he battled through and was named Cheshire Community Champion just a year later for his unswerving dedication.

“I am very appreciative of the support of the community in making sure I wasn’t affected too much,” said Michael, who described his surprise at receiving the letter from the Cabinet Office last week.

“I was told I wasn’t allowed to tell anybody, although my wife Mary did know but never told me. She knew six months ago that my name was in the hat, but she never told me.”

The father-of-one – who followed in his father’s footsteps to become a scout leader for groups in the Midlands, Yorkshire and for a short period of time Chester – was a key member of the steering group for the Parish Plan, which highlighted the lack of youth facilities in the village.

But Michael, who now runs the youth club every week for dozens of children and teenagers with his wife Mary and volunteers Ray and Sarah, said he would soon have to start ‘winding down’ his commitments, including running the film club, organising the tennis club and raising money for the Eaton village play area project, which needs £80,000 before its scheduled completion in 2015.

“I have no idea who nominated me,” said Michael, who has been personally approached by other parish councils, village hall representatives and local interest groups for advice on how to advance their own community initiatives.

Michael, who is one of the vice presidents of Chester Rugby Club and loves sailing, said his wife had been unbelievably understanding and supportive of his activities over the years, said she would be accompanying him to the palace to collect the honour.

“She has full support for all the daft things I do.”

Graham William Spencer, of Tattenhall, BEM

Graham Spencer has been awarded the BEM in the New Year Honours list
 

A community stalwart honoured by the Queen for his tireless work in Tattenhall has said he will accept it as a tribute to a village which has shown ‘great community spirit’.

Graham William Spencer was one of a small group of residents who worked relentlessly on the neighbourhood plan, dedicating thousands of hours to helping protect their village for future generations.

But the 58-year-old, who has lived in Tattenhall all his life, said he wished other people had been recognised for their hard work after being awarded a BEM in the New Year Honours list.

“I am delighted and very pleased, just with the fact that the community has been recognised, but it would be nice if others in the steering group were also recognised,” said the father-of-two, who has helped raise around £380,000 to help save the village hall and has been a member of Tattenhall and District Parish Council for the last decade.

“This is a tribute to all those people who worked on the neighbourhood plan over the last couple of years,”

“We had to do it for the benefit of all of the community for now and future generations.

“It is not something I did on my own. It took just over three years, we were the first in Cheshire West and Chester to do this.”

Graham, who has worked as a shift manager at Growhow fertiliser plant for the last 41 years, said that the group finally finished the plan in June after over 5,000 hours of work.

“It has taken up mornings, evenings, weekends, whenever possible,” said Graham, who paid tribute to members of the steering group and parish council, including Cllr Pat Black, Cllr Carol Weaver and residents Peter Western and Andrew Hull.

“When you start a project going to benefit all those people, you have to carry on and find a way,”

Graham, who is a governor at Tattenhall Park Primary School and even attended the school when it was on the old site as a young boy, is a trustee of the village hall and St Alban’s Church and was chairman of the parish council for three years.

He has also been part of a group who raised around £380,000 to save the village hall, which had fallen into disrepair and is now used by a large number of groups, raising money through community events including wine evenings and from grants.

“When you have a passion you find people in the community will care about it. We have to give people the opportunity to get involved in anyway they feel capable of,” said Graham, husband to Carol and father to John, 30 and James, 27.

But he has no idea who nominated him, saying: “I really don’t know.”

Deputy chief constable Janette McCormick and Detective Inspector Helen Spooner, Queen's Police Medal

Deputy Chief Constable Janette McCormick, of Cheshire Constabulary, has been awarded the Queen’s Police Medal in the New Year Honours
 

Top female officers from Cheshire police who have dedicated their lives to catching murderers and crooks have been honoured by the Queen.

Deputy chief constable Janette McCormick and Detective Inspector Helen Spooner have been awarded the Queen’s Police Medal in the New Year Honours list.

The pair, who work for Cheshire Constabulary, are included in the list as the nation celebrates 100 years of women serving as officers, after years of dedicated service to the county and placing some of the region’s most prolific criminals behind bars.

Chief constable Simon Byrne praised the two officers saying they had shown ‘lasting and consistent commitment’ to the public.

“Janette McCormick and Helen Spooner are thoroughly deserving of this recognition,” he said.

Detective Inspector Helen Spooner, of the Cheshire Constabulary, has been awarded the Queen’s Police Medal in the New Year Honours
 

“Over their careers, they have managed a range of highly complex issues, putting the public and victims of crime at the heart of everything they have done. It is fitting that, as we celebrate nationally the 100th anniversary of women in policing, the contribution of two of Cheshire’s finest officers are recognised by Her Majesty in the 2015 Honours.”

Det Insp Spooner, of the Cheshire Constabulary Major Investigation Team, has led numerous high profile investigations including those into the murder of Chester debt collector Martin Ithell, whose body was found in a car outside Blacon police station in 2011, and father of three David Lavender whose battered body was found in Edgar′s Field Park.

The 52-year-old, who lives in Halton, joined the force in 1999 after spending the early part of her career with Greater Manchester Police (GMP), initially working in public protection.

In 2006 she took a position in the Major Investigations Team and has headed numerous investigations which have led to murderers and rapists being locked up for horrific crimes across committed across the county.

Deputy chief constable McCormick, who joined the Constabulary in 2010 having previously served with GMP, is the national police spokesperson for Gypsies and Irish Traveller issues, and was regional lead for public order and operational communications.

She has been a strategic public order and firearms commander since 2008, and has completed the gold incident commanders course, becoming deputy police constable in 2014.

The 47-year-old, who lives in Warrington, has chaired Cheshire’s Local Resilience Forum which brings emergency and voluntary responders together, such as the local authorities, health, fire, highway and utilities, to plan and respond to emergencies and test.

Janette has been responsible for the delivery of effective neighbourhood policing across the force area, particularly community contact and engagement, including the development of volunteers (including Watch schemes) and specials within the Constabulary.

In 2014 she revamped the Constabulary’s public contact strategy, focusing on making it easier for the public to speak to the police about the issues that concern them.

The citation for Janette’s honour recognises that she has delivered significant improvements in the delivery of neighbourhood policing for the benefit of the public in Cheshire, particularly through partnership working.

Former clinical director of drug and alcohol services for Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust Dr Stefan Janikiewicz, MBE

Dr Stefan Janikiewicz, former clinical director of the drug and alcohol service at the Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
 

The former clinical director of drug and alcohol services for Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust was ‘thrilled’ to be awarded an MBE for his work in helping to reduce drug misuse...if a little surprised.

Dr Stefan Janikiewicz, 65, from Thurstaston, Wirral, told The Chronicle he had always adopted a challenging approach in his professional life, which he assumed ruled him out of such accolades.

True to his word, Dr Janikiewicz wants to support his former colleagues in the drug and alcohol team, where he worked until May, because these NHS services are now being out-sourced as a result of the government’s Health and Social Care Act.

In Chester, Cheshire West and Chester Council has awarded the service to the trading arm of the charity Turning Point.

Dr Janikiewicz, who was clinical director for 23 years and continues to work as a GP at Moreton where he has been for the past 38 years, said: “I find it so disheartening for the morale of the patients and for the morale of the staff and even if these organisations that take over are excellent you can see the pattern of commissioning, re-commissioning in three years’ time and the impact of constant change.”

Dr Janikiewicz is equally concerned at another decision by the same council to take the sexual health services contract from the Countess of Chester Hospital, run by Dr Colm O’Mahony, a ‘national’ figure in his field, and award it to East Cheshire NHS at greater expense to the tax-payer.

“It’s beyond me,” he said. “When someone like him is pushed to one side then we have to be concerned.”

Born in the west of Scotland, to Polish parents, Dr Janikiewicz is married to Tess, a modern languages teacher, and they have eight grown-up children – four sons and four daughters – and ‘nine grandchildren at the moment’.

He added: “My wife said for putting up with me she should have got something and I should have got nothing!”

Despite being a physician, Dr Janikiewicz is not immune from the ravages of time. Previously a keen runner, Dr Janikiewicz is currently waiting for a left hip replacement.

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