Cumbrian recipients of the Queen’s New Year Honours List have been announced.
OBEs have been awarded to John Michael Breon Margeson, of Kirkby-in-Furness, for services to mountain rescue; and broadcaster and honorary president of Cumbria Tourism Eric Robson, of Wasdale, for services to tourism.
Mr Robson, 74, is best known nationally as the chairman of BBC Radio 4’s Gardeners’ Question Time, from which he retired in March 2019.
Jim Walker, Cumbria Tourism’s current chairman, said: “We are truly thrilled for Eric.
“He is a great ambassador for Cumbria and thoroughly deserves to be recognised for his outstanding contribution to the county’s tourism industry over several decades.
“Not only has Eric backed a number of key Cumbrian organisations and charities, but as a broadcaster, he has played a pivotal role in increasing awareness of issues in both the visitor economy and the wider community.
“Eric is also credited for helping to guide Cumbria Tourism through some key challenges including the foot and mouth crisis and the impact of Storm Desmond.
“Most recently, he has been a high-profile voice highlighting important issues around labour supply, recruitment and skills in the tourism industry.
“On behalf of Cumbria Tourism’s staff team and board members – past and present – I offer huge congratulations to Eric for this official recognition in the New Year Honours List.”
An MBE goes to Ray Griffiths, of Penruddock, for services to mountain rescue.
The deputy leader of Patterdale mountain rescue team said: “The bottom line is that it’s a fabulous honour.
“It’s a reflection of what the volunteers do every day, 24/7, and my own contribution is for me, my family and the team. It was a bit of a surprise really.’’
Mr Griffiths, 72, joined the Patterdale rescue team in 1976, after moving to Eden to teach at Ullswater Community College in Penrith.
He is now the longest serving team member and has served it in a range of roles including technical equipment officer and deputy leader.
His service at regional and national level has been extensive over the years with contributions to the Lake District Search and Mountain Rescue Association — the umbrella body for the 12 Cumbrian teams — mountain rescue heritage project and the national mountain rescue committee.
His national role as vice-chairman of the equipment committee and work with the UK conference committee was recognised in 2012 when he was given a distinguished service award.
In 2016 Mr Griffiths was elected by his peers to serve as national president of mountain rescue throughout England and Wales, an office he still holds.
Mr Griffiths said he felt honoured and humbled to accept the award on behalf of the voluntary mountain rescue community, both past and present.
He said he was grateful for the personal support he has received over the years from his work colleagues, friends and his wife Jorie and children, Adam and Amy.
Richard Warren, chairman of the Lake District Search and Rescue Association, congratulated Mr Griffiths for his years of service to the Patterdale team but also his contribution to the region as chairman of the equipment sub committee and president of Mountain Rescue England and Wales.
‘’There are many volunteers within MREW’s many teams who have been honoured over the years and we in Cumbria are delighted to hear of Ray’s recognition,” said Mr Warren.
Receiving a British Empire Medal is Stuart Stokell, for services to the community in Brampton.
Mr Stokell, 44, is a secular funeral celebrant and has played for well in excess of 400 weddings and around 2,000 funerals.
He also voluntarily performs in nursing homes, day centres and old folks’ clubs to lighten up elderly people’s day, all for free.
A BEM has also been awarded to Paul Birkby, business continuity manager at BAE Systems Submarines in Barrow, for services to the community during the COVID-19 response.
He was a major part of the drive to help set up community recovery centres, for patients who were medically fit for discharge from hospital at the peak of the pandemic, but needed a little extra support.
They were set up at Kendal Leisure Centre and Furness Academy in Barrow, providing up to 142 beds.
John Kane, of Whitehaven, for services to people with Parkinson’s Disease in West Cumbria and William Little, for services to the community in Baldwinhome also receive BEMs.
Claire Hensman, Lord-Lieutenant for Cumbria, said: “I would like to congratulate all those who have received an honour.
“Receiving an honour is a huge achievement and I am pleased to see Cumbrians in this expanded national list.
“I would encourage people to think about someone that they know who always goes the extra mile for others and who has made a special contribution to their community or to their area of work over the years.
“Anyone can nominate a person for an honour and I am very keen for people who have given exceptional service to the community to receive the recognition they deserve.
“These awards are special and for me they are the highest possible recognition of a job well done.”