Hat-trick of heroes honoured

Ian August.
Ian August.

THREE community stalwarts in north Northumberland have received Royal recognition of their efforts in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

Jack Deeble, Ian August, both of Alnwick, and Brian Patterson, of Holy Island, were all made Members of the British Empire (MBE) in the list published on Saturday, June 11.

Brian Patterson MBE.

Brian Patterson MBE.

Jack, 90, who is chairman of the League of Friends of the Alnwick Hospitals as well as the Hillcrest Maternity Trust Fund, was honoured for services to the community in Alnwick.

A long-serving and active member of the League of Friends, Jack served as treasurer for 20 years before becoming chairman in 2009.

Modest Jack, who also served as chairman, secretary and treasurer of the North Northumberland Golf League at various points and helped found the junior league, praised those around him for their efforts at the League of Friends.

He said: “It was a complete surprise. I’m delighted, not for myself but for the people who really do the donkey work.

Jack Deeble.

Jack Deeble.

“It’s the people that surround me that really deserve the credit.”

Jack paid particular tribute to his predecessors at the League of Friends, the late Gerald and Mavis Curry.

And looking back, he was particularly pleased with the campaign to save the town’s maternity unit.

“My biggest satisfaction came with the Hillcrest Maternity Unit,” he said. “They were going to close it and told us they needed £100,000.

“The community raised £160,000 in double-quick time because residents of Alnwick and the district are generous people and they fight like hell.

“We are still using the extra £60,000 to get state-of-the-art equipment and to decorate the unit.”

Holy Island resident Brian Patterson retired as a volunteer coastguard in February this year following 52 years of service, so this honour comes at an apt time to commemorate his dedication to HM Coastguards on the island.

The 68-year-old joined up when he was a 16-year-old lad and never looked back, also spending around 20 years as station officer before standing down to ‘let young blood in’,

But the MBE came as a ‘complete shock’ to the grandfather-of-three, who worked as a fishermen for many years.

“It was completely out of the blue, I had no idea whatsoever, but I’m over the moon,” he said.

“There has always been an auxiliary service on the island and when I came of age at 16, the station officer approached me and asked me and I said I will give it a go. And I think I gave it a really good go!”

Brian felt he threw in the towel at the right time though.

“When there’s a call-out at three or four on a winter’s morning, at my age you think enough is enough.”

Brian can now enjoy a relaxing retirement with his wife Annette on the island where both of them have lived their whole lives.

“I can’t think of anywhere better,” added Brian.

Meanwhile, Ian August was awarded the honour for voluntary service to the Alnwick Garden, where he still works as garden liaison director.

Ian, who is the only person involved with the Garden since the start other than the Duchess, said he hadn’t an inkling that he might be honoured but that he was ‘very pleased’.

He said: “I’m proud to be part of the success of the Alnwick Garden, which has subsequently influenced the local community through increased visitor numbers coming to Alnwick.

“And as the Garden continues its development programme, I’m sure that the Alnwick district will continue to see ongoing benefits.”

Ian added that he could not believe the success that the garden had become in 15 years.

“It’s beyond anything that we could have envisaged,” he said. “I feel so proud to be part of what it’s developed into, and what it’s continuing to develop into because we still have the final stage to do.

“How do you walk away from something like this? I’m so lucky I have been involved.”

Ian was considering retirement from his role working in property development for Northumberland Estates before the Duchess asked him to work on the Garden project.