Shropshire unsung heroes recognised in 2019 New Year's Honours list

By Lisa O'Brien | Oswestry | News | Published: | Last Updated:

A special constable, church warden and long-serving volunteer from Shropshire are among the unsung heroes who have been recognised in the New Year's Honours list.

Honoured: Joan Kerry, Bill Bowen and Charles Pearson

Those who make a real difference in the county have been decorated alongside stars of entertainment, sport and the arts.

Bill Bowen at the breakfast club at St Oswald’s

Bill Bowen, from Oswestry, has picked up a British Empire Medal (BEM) honouring a lifetime of involvement in volunteering and in the church.

His roles have ranged from being district governor of the Lions Clubs International to rolling his sleeves up and planting hundreds of hanging baskets, or cooking a full English breakfast for 80 hungry men.

Mr Bowen, who will be 87 in January, is a founder member of the Oswestry Lions Club.

For many years the club organised the Oswestry winter carnival procession and also raised tens of thousands of pounds for charities, both local and international.

He helped set up the popular, annual Lions Club Real Ale festival in the town.

“I would say that 80 per cent of the money we raise goes to local charities and good causes,” he said.


He says that the church has also been a big part of his life.

“I was church warden at St Oswald’s Parish Church in Oswestry for 25 years before I became a lay minister, which I did for 18 years," he said.

“I have also been chaplain at the orthopaedic hospital for 18 years. That is a lovely ministry and has given me so many opportunities to help other people.”

He ran the men’s monthly breakfast club at St Oswald’s, cooking all the food himself.


“I would get up at 4am and prepare and cook up to 80 full English breakfasts,” he said.

“I stood town when I was coming up to 80.”

One of his most popular fundraisers was planting up hundreds of hanging baskets that would be sold for charity.

“I suppose I am someone who finds it difficult to say no if I am asked to help,” he said.

“I am so grateful for what life has given me that I try to help other people that are less fortunate than myself. It has led to lots of friendships over the years and I have had as much out of volunteering as I have given.”

Joan Kerry putting up an angel for the festival of angels at St George's Church, Clun

Also receiving a BEM for services to the community in Clun is Joan Kerry.

The 71-year-old, who moved into the area 12 years ago from the West Midlands, is the church warden at St George’s Church in Clun.

She is also joint editor of the Clun Chronicle and volunteers for the good neighbour scheme, providing support to people who need it.

She says she is among a raft of volunteers in Clun who help to create a warm and inviting community.

"I got to know people from joining in things," Mrs Kerry said.

"I wanted to give something to a community I call home.

"I feel very humbled by this. I feel no more special than the other volunteers in Clun.

"People who volunteer get as much out of it as you put in. It involves you with people and gives you an interest."

Charles Pearson, who has been a special sergeant with the West Mercia constabulary for 45 years

Charles Pearson, who has been a special sergeant with the West Mercia constabulary for 45 years, has also been honoured with a BEM for services to policing.

The grandfather-of-one, who lives with his wife Christine in Church Stretton, gives 40 to 60 hours a month to the role.

The 64-year-old was inspired to join after he came to the aid of a police officer during a fight involving a group of men in Much Wenlock.

He was summoned to the police station the next day and was thanked for his actions.

During his time as a special constable, he has worked in police stations in Bridgnorth, Much Wenlock and Church Stretton, and has patrolled the streets and roads of south Shropshire.

He also helped to carry out house-to-house inquiries following the murder of British teenager Lesley Whittle in the 1970s.

Mr Pearson, who found out about his award six weeks ago, said: "I was sworn to secrecy.

"It was very, very difficult to keep quiet.

"I'm over the moon to be honoured. I feel very humbled. I've just been doing a job I loved and worshipped for 45 years."

It is not the first time he has been honoured for his policing role. He was awarded the Freedom of Much Wenlock by the town council in 2014.

Mr Pearson said: "I enjoy helping people.

"I remember being sent to see an old lady who was depressed, I went to see her a couple of times. Eventually I contacted her family and we arranged for her to go and live with them.

"That sticks in my mind because it was such a positive thing.

"I've loved every minute of it. I would do it again in a heartbeat."

Others who have been named in the New Year's Honours list include Daphne Woodhouse, who picked up a BEM for services to culture and history in Powys.

Wendy Nicholson

Wendy Nicholson, from Market Drayton, has been honoured with an MBE for services to nursing for children and young people.

She is the national lead nurse for children, young people and families for Public Health England.

The 54-year-old trained to be a nurse in 1982 and worked firstly in adult intensive care before training to be a children's nurse.

She has since helped others in training and has held various roles.

Miss Nicholson, who is also deputy head of the World Health Organisation collaborating centre for nursing, helps to develop policies to improve the health and wellbeing of children and young people.

She said: "I'm surprised and delighted. It's quite an honour.

"Nursing is a fantastic job and I would recommend it to anybody."

Herefordshire jockey Richard Johnson also picked up an OBE.

Famous faces who have been honoured include comedian Michael Palin, best known for his time in Monty Python. He received a knighthood.

Others who are recognised include sixties supermodel Lesley "Twiggy" Lawson, Downton Abbey's Jim Carter, filmmaker Christopher Nolan and the British divers who helped save a youth football team trapped inside a flooded cave in Thailand.

Lisa O'Brien

By Lisa O'Brien
Senior Reporter - @lisaobrien_Star

Senior reporter based at Shropshire Star's head office in Ketley. Covering the Telford area.


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