Ex-Berwick man made an MBE for charity work in Africa

A former Berwick man has been awarded an MBE in the Queen’s New Years Honours.

Ken Dunn at the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro.
Ken Dunn at the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro.

Ken Dunn, who runs charity Africa’s Gift, receives the award for services to Lesotho and sub-Saharan Africa.

"I’m really chuffed, although it also feels quite bizarre in that you get an email and are then sworn to secrecy until Old Year’s Night,” he admitted.

"What made it really special was that we had a family get together and at 10.30pm when the news embargo ended I was able to get up and make the announcement. It was a beautiful moment.”

Ken, a former Berwick High School deputy head now living in South Yorkshire, has thanked his wife, Karen, for being his ‘best friend and spiritual rock’.

But he also thanks some of those from north Northumberland who have helped him on his journey.

They include ‘kind and inspirational’ teacher David Hutchinson who ignited his love in nature whilst at Spittal First School and high school teachers Terry Harris and Scott Weightman who encouraged him to ‘dream big’.

He also recalls great support from David Conway and Elliot Hill who pushed him to achieve a Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award.

Ken recalls being selected for a ‘massively challenging’ British Schools Exploring Society to central Iceland which was supported by Pringle and Berwick Rotary Club which would see him start a life of expeditions to the Himalayas, Andes, Yukon, Russia and Kilimanjaro.

Simpson's Malt provided a summer job while he was at university that would help pay for the exploring and discoveries in a world much different to it is today.

His initial work in Africa was in the mountain kingdom of Lesotho where, with Rotary support, he helped establish a teaching farm to showcase conservation agriculture.

Whittingham Scouts were also involved in the project, as was the Flodden group.

Ken also worked with Berwick Academy to make life-changing opportunities possible in the townships of Port Elizabeth.

A little bit of Berwick now lives on in Uganda.

Ken's mum, Marian Dunn, passed away a year ago and a small clearing ‘Marian's Eden’ is being planted by the Batwa tribal group as a pocket forest pharmacy so they can grow shrubs and trees with medicinal properties that they can’t now access from the forest.