Scout leader and campaigner named in honours list

Sir Ken Dodd

Sir Ken Dodd

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A Fleetwood pensioner who has devoted 60 years of her life to the scouting movement and a hearing loss campaigner have been named in the New Year’s Honour’s List.

Muriel Freestone, 90, who will mark six decades of scouting work next month, received the MBE

Stephen Hill, who has been awarded the OBE for services to people with hearing problems and charity in the New Year Honours list 2016

Stephen Hill, who has been awarded the OBE for services to people with hearing problems and charity in the New Year Honours list 2016

Muriel has been working with scouts in Wyre for 30 years and is currently vice president of the group and chairman of the Live Wyre Gang Show.

She was as shocked as anyone when the letter arrived from Whitehall.

Muriel said: “I used to be in the armed forces so when I received a letter marked ‘on behalf of Her Majesty’ I thought, forget that.

“I left it until last.

“When I opened it and I saw it was from the Cabinet Office I couldn’t think what they wanted from me.

“It was a huge surprise and a huge honour.”

And with family spread around the world, Muriel has had a job keeping her new title a secret.

It was only during the festive get-together she was able to finally unveil the news.

She said: “I have children in Spain, Dubai and Australia.

“My daughter went back to Dubai after Christmas and I told all the family then, I made a few calls to different parts of the world.

“I hadn’t told anyone from the scouting movement because I really wanted my family to know first.”

As for her scouting work, Muriel is proud to still be involved.

She said: “I came to Fleetwood 30 years on and it’s been fantastic work, it’s so fulfilling.

“It’s wonderful to be able to support young people.

“There are some great people involved and this is a real honour.”

Meanwhile, Stephen Hill, former Chairman of Trustees at Action on Hearing Loss and an ex-student of King Edward VII School, St Annes, was awarded an OBE for services to people with hearing problems and charity.

Over his eight years on the Action on Hearing Loss board, including the past three as chairman, Stephen oversaw a period of rapid growth at Action on Hearing Loss, including expansion of its community based services and a doubling of its biomedical research programme.

Stephen stepped down earlier this year to become the new chair of Alzheimer’s Society.

Paul Breckell, Action on Hearing Loss Chief Executive said: “I’m delighted that Stephen has had this richly deserved honour for services to people with hearing loss. It is a fitting end to his successful tenure as Chair of Action on Hearing Loss, who are now directly supporting over 100,000 people every year.”

A host of Lancashire’s great and good have been recognised in the New Year’s Honour’s List.

Thirteen people - including Preston Paralympic champion Stephanie Slater, academics, community heroes and business heavyweights - have appeared alongside celebrities such as Ken Dodd.

UCLan’s Professor of Stroke Care Caroline Watkins, the only stroke care professor in the UK, has been made a Dame for her services to stroke and nursing care.

Tarleton Academy’s chair of governors, Helen Dicker, has been made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for services to education.

Stephanie Slater from Longridge has been awarded the MBE for services to swimming. The 25-year-old became Paralympic champion and silver medallist at the Rio Games after previously winning seven European gold medals.

Scott Durant, 28 of Halton has an MBE for services to rowing. The former Lancaster Royal Grammar School pupil was a gold medallist in the Men’s Eight at the Rio Olympic Games.

Ron Farrington, senior pastor at Longton Community Church, has been awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to the community.

Elsewhere, Michael Bradley from Colne, director general of resources at the Ministry of Defence, received an Order of the Bath for services to defence.

Six others have been given an MBE. They include Wing Cdr David Forbes from Rossendale, for voluntary service to young people and ex-service charities and Detective Constable Mohammed Abid Saleh from Blackburn for services to policing and the community in East Lancashire.