REVEALED: The community heroes honoured by Queen’s Honours List

Christopher Bannister
Christopher Bannister
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Two community heroes are being honoured by the Queen for their selfless work to help others.

And the principal of Blackpool and The Fylde College has been honoured for her services to further education.

Jacqui Longden

Jacqui Longden

The news she was being awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) came as particularly pleasant surprise to Jacqui Longden – as she feared the letter from ‘Her Majesty’s Service’ was a summons for jury duty.

Jaqui, former manager at the Blesma home, the military charity for limbless veterans, and Christopher Bannister, who has worked tirelessly to keep the villages of Newton and Clifton free of weeds and litter, have been named in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

They will both receive a BEM, awarded for a ‘hands-on’ service to the community that has made a ‘significant difference’.

Jacqui has no idea who nominated her. She said: “I was speechless, which is pretty unusual for me! It’s such a proud moment. I loved doing what I was doing.”

The 56-year-old, who lives with her daughter Sarah, 24, in Coniston Road, South Shore, trained as a nurse at Blackpool Victoria Hospital before working abroad in Germany and Cyprus.

She joined Blesma in 2000 as head nurse at the charity’s 45-bed nursing home in Lytham Road and was appointed manager soon after.

In her role she cared for limbless veterans, ranging from permanently placed Second World War heroes with wounds incurred as prisoners of war in the Far East, to veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq in need of shorter term convalescent care.

Blesma closed in October after almost 70 years, and Ms Longden said: “It was a very sad day when I left and closed the door behind me.

“There was never a day when I got up in the morning and thought, ‘Oh, work, I don’t want to go’.

“It was such a wonderful place.”

She now works as a manager at Preston Glades Care Home.

Christopher, 72, from Southlands in Kirkham, began a small window cleaning round in the early 1970s, and often carries out work for his elderly customers free of charge, including clearing their gutters and other odd jobs.

He won the cleaning contract for Newton and Clifton and used it as an opportunity to put the villages on the map. Since 1985, they have been entered into the Lancashire Best Kept Village Competition, winning a number of awards.

He has been an elected member of the parish council since 1983, serving two terms as chairman, and is also the representative on the John Hornbie Trust, set up in the 18th century to open a school for local children.

He said: “I got a letter from the cabinet office. My first reaction was amazement. I don’t have a clue who put me forward.

“I’m still amazed and quite surprised at why anybody would bother. The family seem to be quite pleased, I must admit.”

Blackpool and The Fylde College principal and chief executive Bev Robinson has been awarded an OBE for services to further education.

Ms Robinson, who was appointed in 2013, said: “This honour is in recognition of the work of everyone at Blackpool and The Fylde College.

“The organisation is continuously recognised among the top performing institutions for student success, both for further and higher education.

“I am delighted that this work has been recognised in this way.

“I have been fortunate to work with truly fabulous staff teams, both past and present and I whole-heartedly thank them.”

Andrew Frederick Craig received the British Empire Medal for services to the Armed Services and the community in Fleetwood.