New Year’s gongs for community champions of St Albans district

Ann Rudeforth from Oxfam Bookshop with children's author Stacey Turner.

Ann Rudeforth from Oxfam Bookshop with children's author Stacey Turner. - Credit: Archant

A village stalwart who has run a service to help the elderly and isolated for many years has been recognised in the New Year’s Honours List.

Ant Wilson

Ant Wilson - Credit: Archant

Ann Rudeforth has been awarded the Medal of the Order of the British Empire - formerly the British Empire Medal - for services to the community in Wheathampstead where she lives.

The former Beech Hyde JMI School teacher has been the transport officer for the Wheathampstead Community Group since she retired in 1993.

For a long time she ran it single-handedly but she now leads a team of people who provide transport for villagers who need to get to hospital appointments, shops and community group get togethers.

And with bus services to villages increasingly infrequent and taxis hard to come by, the demand for the transport service has been steadily increasing and there are now 40 drivers on the community group’s books.

Claire Breay

Claire Breay - Credit: Archant

Ann also sings in the choir at St Helen’s Church and volunteers at the Oxfam Bookshop in St Albans.

Marion Oxley, chair of Wheathampstead Community Group, said: “She is a modest person who just gets on with things and helps so many people.”

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Awarded an OBE in the New Year’s Honours was Catherine Large who was deputy chief executive of Creative & Cultural Skills - a campaigning organisation championing youth employment and fair access.

The Harpenden resident, whose career started in the theatre industry, joined Creative & Cultural Skills in 2006 as director of external relations.

She then then became joint/deputy CEO, leading the development of The Backstage Centre, and furthering Creative & Cultural Skills’ charitable mission to give young people opportunities to work and learn in the creative industries, creating over 4,000 apprenticeships in the UK to date.

Catherine’s final role was as national college development director, where she led the consortium of industry employers to found the National College Creative Industries.

Chief executive of the organisation, Pauline Tambling, said: “Catherine is totally committed to promoting to UK creative industries. She has worked tirelessly to create fairer opportunities for young people to join the creative workforce including through campaigning and promoting apprenticeships. It has been a great pleasure to work with Catherine over her eight years with Creative & Cultural Skills.”

An MBE has been awarded to Dr Claire Breay, the British Library’s head of ancient, medieval and early modern manuscripts, in recognition of her services to medieval history during an 18-year career at the UK national library.

In 2015 Claire was lead curator of Magna Carta: Law, Liberty, Legacy, the British Library’s most successful-ever exhibition, and was a co-investigator for the AHRC-funded Magna Carta Project (2012-15).

Claire, who lives in Harpenden, joined the Library in 1998 as curator of medieval historical manuscripts and has led the medieval manuscripts department since 2006.

Of her honour she said: “I was surprised but absolutely delighted to receive this award”. She thanked her colleagues in the medieval manuscripts team at the Library and the support of her family.

An MBE has also been awarded to Howard Guard for services to charity and the community in Herts. The 70-year-old Radlett resident is a Deputy Lord Lieutenant of the county and as chair of St Albans Cathedral Fabric Trust, he spearheaded the raising of sufficient funds to hang a new ring of 12 bells and create a processional walkway between the Nave, Sanctuary and Quire.

In addition, he purchased a church in Great Munden which he turned into an arts facility which is now used for his small film productions as well as for music, art and community events.

He recently completed a 35-minute short film about the impact of World War One on the communities in the county entitled A County at War, uncovering archival material, producing the script and directing the production at his own expense.

As well as ploughing any money he makes from his ventures back into the community, he has planted over 10,000 trees at his home, Netherwylde Farm, over the past 25 years with the intention that some of the wood can be used to benefit English furniture makers into the future.

A CBE has been awarded to Edward Webb, of St Albans, who was deputy director, tissue embryology, donation and sponsorship, at the Department of Health until recently. He was honoured for his services to health science.

And an MBE has been awarded to Ant Wilson, director of AECOM who is based at the engineering company’s St Albans office.

He was nominated for his services to building and engineering and as director of the company’s building engineering team, he leads its sustainable development, advanced design and applied research work.

He said: “I am honoured to receive an MBE. The recognition it brings raises the profile of engineering and will help me encourage more people to join the industry.”