Surprised and delighted Maidenhead figures reflect on New Year Honours

Adrian Williams

Adrian Williams
WOOBURN 134150-1

Rosie O’Hagan got a BEM for services to the community in Bourne End and Wooburn

This New Year, a number of Maidenhead, Marlow and Burnham figures made the New Year Honours List, which celebrates the achievements and service of ‘extraordinary people’ across the UK.

The Advertiser spoke to these individuals, many of whom have been honoured for their services to voluntary work or to the community during the pandemic.

Rosemary O’Hagan, from Wooburn Green (above), received a BEM for services to the community in Bourne End and Wooburn during coronavirus.

One of 10 people who started up the Bourne End and Wooburn Green SOS group, Rosie took on co-ordination of the volunteer efforts in Wooburn Green.

Throughout COVID, these volunteers have delivered shopping and meals or made deliveries to those unable to get out and about.

They also sewed laundry bags and scrubs for care homes and local GP surgeries.

“People who hardly knew how to sew all got involved and became quite skilful,” said Rosie.

“I’m quite used to mobilising friends through Facebook and other means.”

Nonetheless, it was ‘a huge shock’ to be included in the honours list, she said.

“After two years that have been so awful for so many, it felt a bit incongruous.

“It was my husband who said, ‘You’ve got to accept it – on behalf of all the volunteers, if you like.’

“It should be a community award, really, [but] of course it’s an honour. I’m happy to accept this on behalf of the dozens of Bourne End and Wooburn Green SOS members.”

In South Bucks, Marlow’s Hamaad Karim was given a BEM for voluntary services to students and the wider community in the pandemic.

Hamaad co-founded the Tazil Foundation, which seeks to provide key employability skills to those from under-represented socio-economic backgrounds.

“I’m ecstatic, it was a massive surprise,” he said.

“I was asked if I’d be willing to accept it [a BEM] and of course I jumped at the chance. I didn’t think the work we’d been doing would get this much recognition.”

The 22-year-old helped 85 students obtain training and graduate positions – and created virtual platforms to help others in the world of work.

Their content reached more than 200,000 people since starting up two years ago.

“My key motivation came from when I was in the application process, I realised that if you don’t have a network, you don’t have an idea of how to go for these jobs.

“There are all these barriers and people from lower socio-economic backgrounds don’t have those contacts.”

He realised that it would only take a small amount of extra knowledge sand help from mentorship to get the tools out there for those that need them.

“When we first got started, we envisioned helping a few people from our universities,” said Hamaad. “We’ve been able to make huge progress,” he said.

He has been mentor to 50 students, aiding them in securing graduate legal roles. In the future the aim is to get more external mentors involved.

“A lot of people in the professional world care about helping people from lower socio-economic backgrounds,” he notes.

Lisa Hunter has been awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) for her services to the community in Maidenhead throughout the pandemic.

A Rotarian at Maidenhead Bridge Rotary Club, Lisa played a vital role in helping more than 120 vulnerable households across the town in the early stages of the pandemic.

Although the number of people in need of assistance has since dropped, the 40-year-old and her fellow Rotarians continue to help those in need.

The Rotary Club helped residents by picking up groceries, prescriptions and even walking dogs for those who were unable to leave the house.

She said that she was ‘rather shocked’ when she discovered she had received the prestigious award.

“It took me a good half hour to stop shaking after I opened the letter,” said Lisa.

“I was honoured, of course, but very shocked.

“It’s what we as Rotarians do anyway, by helping other people as much as we can, but knowing it was so very much needed by so many people and that that little bit of help really did make a difference is what it’s all about.”

“On top of the COVID-19 response project, we also provided food parcels for 23 families who suddenly did not have access to free school meals.

“Every week, I would go to the supermarket and do a massive shop for all those families and then we had delivery people that would go and give it to the families.

“To try and make it a bit of fun [for the families], occasionally we would put in a recipe card and all of the ingredients to make that recipe.”

Lisa added that one of the parents had sent an email at 6am ‘because her children were so excited to make flapjacks’ that had been provided.

Jeanette Chippington believes her late father David will have been looking down on her this week and enjoying the moment after the 51-year-old was awarded an OBE for her services to canoeing.

This summer Chippington won bronze in the VL2 class at the Tokyo Paralympics, taking her medal haul to 14 from the seven Games she’s competed at dating back to Seoul in 1988.

She initially started as a swimmer and won medals in the pool at Seoul, Barcelona, Atlanta, Sydney and Athens before returning to a new sport of paracanoeing after a 12-year hiatus for the Rio Games in 2016 where she won gold in the KL1 event.

She said this week that the OBE is in part recognition for her success in paracanoe but also her longevity in Paralympic sport.

But she added that none of it would have been possible without the support of her parents.

“It’s amazing isn’t it?” she said. “It’s recognition of the fact that I’ve now been to seven Paralympic Games and have won a medal at every single one.

“Even I have to pinch myself because it’s incredible to have achieved that.

“I was the oldest GB team member for the Paralympics in Tokyo and to win a medal in a strength sport as well, it’s even more of an achievement.

“I couldn’t believe it when I received the letter because you can’t tell anybody.

“It didn’t really sink in until New Year’s Eve when I saw that only a few people got OBEs. That’s when it really sunk in and I’m extremely proud.”

She added: “My dad saw me get my MBE and that was an extremely proud moment. I know he would have been so proud of this.

“My mum is still around but she wouldn’t have known what was going on because of her dementia.

“Quite a few people have messaged and said that your mum and dad would have been so proud. It’s nice that they’ve messaged to say that as I could never have done it without them (her parents).

"I couldn’t have got to training without them driving me there in my early career and as the years went on, they played a huge part. The support was always there, and they always came to watch me.

"It’s such a shame that my dad’s not around to see this but I’m sure he’ll be looking down and watching this and seeing what’s going on.

“The comments from people get to you a bit. They bring a tear to your eye.”

Olympian Tom Dean said being awarded an MBE in the New Year’s Honours list has ‘rounded off a cracking year’ as the 21-year-old was recognised for his services to swimming.

Dean made a splash in the 4x200m freestyle and the 200m freestyle last summer by becoming the first male British swimmer to win two gold medals at the same games in 113 years.

It was a remarkable feat considering he had caught coronavirus twice during his preparation for the global event and was forced out of the pool for several weeks.

“What a way to round off a cracking year, said Dean of his MBE.

“I think it’s great that all the teams and athletes have been recognised for their hard work.

“My family and I have received some lovely messages and that’s really special because they have put in so much hard work owing to my success in the pool.”

He added: “Since the Olympics my life has changed. You don’t normally get stopped in the street as a swimmer, but after winning gold, I was getting recognised outside my front door every day.

“People were coming up to me and said how they have started swimming because of my racing, and that’s probably my favourite thing to have happened since the games.”

The founder and chairman of a COVID-19 charity has reflected on its work during the pandemic, after being awarded a BEM.

Adam Prince, who previously lived in Burnham and now resides in Staffordshire, received the honour for services to the community in Burnham during COVID-19.

Following the start of the pandemic in March 2020, Adam founded and set up the Burnham Resilience Group (BRG) on Facebook to help the community, which later became the Burnham Resilience Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO).

While working primarily behind the scenes, writing policies and getting everything in order, Adam also carried out tasks such as doing the shopping, collecting prescriptions and completing odd jobs for people.

As well as an army of volunteers helping with tasks such as shopping, prescription collecting, and vaccinations, other support was also provided, some of which includes mental health support for schools, and the Buddy Up scheme.

Mr Prince said: “As a figurehead, its really nice [to be recognised], but I’m certainly not the only one who is doing an amazing amount of work.”

He added: “Whilst its nice to be recognised I’m just one of many.

“I view this as very much, it's for the whole team.”

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