New Year Honours for eight from Warwickshire

Robin Christopherson from Warwick was awarded an MBE.
Robin Christopherson from Warwick was awarded an MBE.

Several people from Warwickshire have made it onto the New Year’s Honour list.

In this year’s list seven people across the county were awarded Medallist of the Order of the British Empire (BEM) for their services to the community.

Those awarded medals were: John Lee Anderson from Burton Dassett and Northend, Marion Ann Austin from Norton Lindsey, Wolverton and Langley, Margaret Mary Kite from Kenilworth, Jean Singleton from Leek Wootton and Jillian Margaret Baker, Geoffrey Thorpe and Paul Winchester, who are all from Harbury.

Tim Lockley, chairman of Harbury Parish Council, said: “Jill Baker has been the driving force behind Biblio’s café in the village library. It’s entirely volunteer managed, with the sole aim of bringing in revenue to support the library after Warwickshire County Council withdrew most of their financial support in 2012.

“Over the past four years Biblio’s has raised more than £10,000 each year, not only to pay the running costs but also to buy new books, computers, and equipment.

“Geoff Thorpe has been the chairman of Harbury Village Hall for the past 10 years or so, and has overseen a radical transformation of the facility. We now have new kitchen, toilet, changing facilities and recently extended the hall to provide a permanent stage. This has involved raising more than £250,000 and Geoff has overseen this very successful rejuvenation.

“Paul Winchester has been involved in raising money for charity for many years, including a summer Ball last year that raised more than £10,000.”

Robin Christopherson, who is from Warwick, was awarded a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) for his services to digital inclusion.

The award has been made in recognition of his personal contribution in promoting awareness of the need to provide digital products and services that are inclusive for disabled people.

Mr Christopherson, who is blind, and uses technology using speech output to access computers, the internet, his iPhone and other technologies that assist him in his work.

Mr Christopherson’s career in technology started when he was an IT instructor for the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) and then became a founding member of AbilityNet in 1998.

Mr Christopherson said: “Over the last few decades we’ve seen a revolution that has almost infinitely expanded opportunities for people with disabilities and I feel very fortunate to have played a small part in spreading the word.

“I’m hoping that receiving this award (apart from being the shock of the century personally) might help get the message out and inspire people to think about the needs of everyone around them and make sure they can all benefit from the power of technology and the internet to change their lives for the better.”