Volunteers and tireless community workers from Ilkeston and the surrounding have started 2014 in style — after being named on the New Year Honour’s List in recognition of their efforts.
Here the Advertiser takes a closer look at the locals who will receive prestigious accolades:
Community champion Gill Riley, of West Hallam, found out she will receive the British Empire Medal (BEM) after receiving a letter from the Lord Lieutenant of Derbyshire, William Tucker.
She said: “I was so surprised but absolutely delighted. I consider a lot of the work I do to be back office kind of jobs so to be recognised for the things you don’t expect people to notice means a lot to me.”
Sixty-year-old Gill was nominated because of services to the community in her role as chairman of the Ilkeston Neighbourhood Watch Group.
She first became involved with the group in the ‘90s after a young friend of hers became an alcoholic and died in his twenties.
She explained: “I looked around West Hallam and saw so many young people headed down the same path and wanted to be able to do something to stop the same thing happening to them.
“I started off as an appropriate adult for young offenders and then sat on a regional Crown Prosecution Service panel.
“Over time I became more involved with crime prevention in a variety of areas including doorstep crime and hate crime.”
In her current role as chairman, Gill takes charge of meetings, keeps a database of crimes as well as working for the Neighbourhood Alerts team, working on the newsletter and organising fundraising and awareness events.
She added: “I will be presented with the medal locally but have been invited to the Queen’s garden party in May or June.
“I’m excited but I’m intrigued more than anything, I’ve always wondered who goes to those events and what they are like.”
Charity stalwart Dorothy Allsop has been made a medallist of the order of the British Empire (BEM) for services to the community in Smalley.
Dorothy, 81, said her charitable work began at the age of nine when she raised 12/6.
She said: “It was a very nice surprise and a great honour to be thought of in that way.
“I have done a lot of charity work over my life and people think I have done quite a worthwhile job.”
However, Dorothy also paid tribute to all the people who have helped her organise events. “They have all been great workers over the years.”
With their help she has raised incalcuable amounts of money for charities with coffee mornings and garden parties at her home in Smalley.
Born in Leabrooks, Dorothy moved to Manor Farm at Brinsley with her family when she was nine and worked in her father’s butchers shop until she married Richard Allsop when she was 28. Her sons Andrew and Robert now run Morley Hayes Golf Club.
She said: “I have always had a busy life, but I always found time to give something to somebody else and made lots of friends along the way.”
Dorothy also received a letter from the Lord Lieutenant of Derbyshire which communicated his ‘absolute delight’ at her good news.
Dorothy said: “It was very humbling and wonderful.”
A member of Morley Parish Church, the British Red Cross and Heanor Floral Arts Group, Dorothy has helped raise money for everything from the tsunami appeal of 2005 to the Air Ambulance.
Awsworth councillor Lydia, who is known as a ‘champion for her community’, has been awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM).
Cllr Ball is has been chosen for her ‘services to the community in Broxtowe and notably for her long standing service to the people of Awsworth’.
Lydia, who has served on both Awsworth Parish Council and Broxtowe Borough Council for more than 30 years, said she was ‘thrilled’.
The 70-year-old, Broxtowe’s longest-serving councillor, said: “I couldn’t believe it. I am just so proud and so humbled. Just absolutely thrilled. I think it’s marvellous.
“And everyone has been so lovely as well with all the cards of congratulations. I am quite taken aback. Overwhelmed.”
The popular councillor, who was Mayor of Broxtowe back in 1993 and has no plans to throw in the towel yet, fought for 28 years to get the Shilo Way bypass and was integral in getting funding for the Neighbourhood Pride project – an initiative to make Awsworth more picturesque.
The leader of Broxtowe Borough Council, Milan Radulovic, said she was a ‘fantastic ambassador of the council’ and a ‘credit to the borough’.
“Lydia has been a constant champion for her community and a pleasure to work with,” he said.
“She is a very popular councillor and very well-liked by all her peers no matter what their political persuasion. Lydia serves with hard work and dedication and continues to support the local community with passion and enthusiasm. She’s a credit to the borough and truly deserves this honour.”
Broxtowe MP Anna Soubry also congratulated Cllr Ball, saying she put her people first.
Ms Soubry said: “She has won considerable support and respect from people of all political persuasions.
“Over the years Lydia has, quite rightly, always put the interests of the people she represents before any party political loyalty and Lydia has campaigned for many improvements in Awsworth over the years.”
Ms Soubry added that life had not always been kind to Cllr Ball. In a short period of time she lost her husband and then one of her sons – but she continued to serve as a councillor and always with a smile, she said.
“Lydia is a good friend and inspiration to many of us, especially in Broxtowe Conservatives,” added Ms Soubry.