Inspirational duo presented with a prestigious accolade

Jean O'Hanlon and Frank Bull receiving their BEM from the Duchess of Northumberland.
Jean O'Hanlon and Frank Bull receiving their BEM from the Duchess of Northumberland.

Two Alnwick residents have been presented with British Empire Medals for their dedicated community and voluntary service.

Frank Bull and Jean O’Hanlon were awarded their honours by the Duchess of Northumberland at an investiture ceremony at Alnwick Castle.

The medal is given to those engaging in voluntary work who have made a hands-on contribution to their local community. Recipients are entitled to use the post-nominal letters, BEM.

Frank, 93, was awarded his BEM for services to the Royal British Legion. Following his training at Bletchley Park, he served for five years in the Eastern Mediterranean as a wireless operator in the field.

He has spent 70 years supporting the Legion and has made it his mission to raise funds for the Poppy Appeal, having helped to collect more than £375,000 between 1965 and 2008. In 2015, he personally raised £493 for the charity in Alnwick alone.

Jean has been awarded the BEM for voluntary services to ex-service personnel and to the community of Alnwick through SSAFA – the Armed Forces charity.

She joined the Wansbeck Division of SSAFA Northumberland Branch as a volunteer caseworker and has worked tirelessly for the cause.

As a gifted amateur flower arranger and member of Alnwick and District Flower Club she has produced many floral events, including a flower festival on behalf of the SSAFA at Alnwick Castle to mark the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme. So successful was the event, that an area of the castle has been set aside for a display she arranged, attracting donations for SSAFA of £500 a month.

Every week she travels to Newcastle to donate items from her local church to the People’s Kitchen.

The Duchess presented the BEMs in her capacity as the Queen’s Lord Lieutenant for the county.

She said: “To receive a BEM is a fantastic achievement and I am delighted to present the award to Frank and Jean – two worthy recipients.

“Their determination, hard work and dedication to their charities is truly commendable. They are an inspiration and a credit to Northumberland.”