A couple who have fostered more than 100 children, a football club chairman, a University leader and county council librarian shaping national policy on children’s reading are among the Staffordshire people recognised by Her Majesty the Queen in her Birthday Honours.
Awards include a CBE for Professor Liz Barnes, Vice-Chancellor of Staffordshire University; an OBE for Dr Christopher Wakeling, Chairman of Historic England’s Places of Worship Forum; an MBE for Burton Albion chairman Ben Robinson; and a BEM for Wilf Burt, of Staffordshire County Scouts, who has been involved in scouting for more than 60 years.
MBEs were also awarded to Jean Foster, 74, and husband Bill, 82, who have been fostering children for Staffordshire County Council since the early 1980s. As well as giving a loving home to more than 100 children, the couple, from Burton-upon-Trent, also adopted two children.
When I first started fostering over 30 years ago, the children were pretty much dropped off and you were left to get on with it. Straight in at the deep-end and you learned as you went along like with your own children. It’s much better now there’s lots of training and support available to you.
Overall though it’s been great and I’ve loved every minute of it. The only part I really struggled with was sometimes handing the children back after looking after them. This was often heart breaking and the hardest thing for me.”
We are very surprised that this should happen to us. Making a difference to so many children’s lives has been very rewarding over the years and that’s all we wanted.”
An MBE was also awarded to Sue Ball, who has worked in Staffordshire’s public libraries for more than 30 years. Currently responsible for strategy and policy in Staffordshire, in recent years she has overseen the transfer of Stafford and Newcastle town centre libraries into new premises.
A past chair of the National Association of Senior Children’s and Education Librarians, Sue has helped develop countrywide approaches to helping parents-to-be and tackling childhood obesity, as well as being part of the group that is responsible for the selection of the Children’s Laureate.
Speaking about the award, Sue said: “I am absolutely delighted to be awarded this Honour. I am passionate about the role libraries play in enhancing the lives of people of all ages and the communities in which they live and I hope that in being awarded this honour it will help to raise the profile of our public library service and Staffordshire County Council’s Libraries and Arts Service.”
Philip Atkins OBE, Leader of Staffordshire County Council, paid tribute to all the recipients. He said:
Staffordshire is blessed to have among us many people quietly excelling in their area of expertise, whose contribution benefits us all and I am delighted to see their efforts honoured in this way.
Mr and Mrs Foster are exactly the sort of people that the Honours system should be recognising, a down-to-earth couple who have made a huge difference to the lives of so many people over so many years.
I congratulate them for their dedication and it speaks volumes that those young children remain in touch with Mr and Mrs Foster now they are adults.
I am particularly pleased to hear that Sue Ball has been singled out by Her Majesty. Not only does Sue do invaluable work shaping national policies on promoting learning for children through reading, but when she talks at national and international conferences she is a strong advocate for Staffordshire’s library service’s role in the development of young people.”
Philip Atkins added:
I’m delighted for Ben Robinson, he has worked over decades to grow Burton Albion into an institution embedded at the heart of its community with the Burton Albion Community Trust, as well as a respected football club. He has worked tirelessly for the local community as well as on the national football association stage.
Albion’s rise offers both hope and a blueprint for all non-league clubs hoping to emulate their success.”
Mr Ian Dudson CBE, HM Lord-Lieutenant of Staffordshire, said:
I am delighted that Her Majesty has recognised those who have made a significant contribution to their community, either professionally, or in a voluntary capacity.
I would like to congratulate all of them on behalf of the whole ceremonial county of Staffordshire – we share their pride and pleasure.”
Residents of Staffordshire who have received an honour include:
- CBE for Prof Liz Barnes, of Rugeley, Vice-Chancellor of Staffordshire University, for services to Higher Education;
- OBE for Dr Christopher Wakeling, of Stoke-on-Trent, Chairman of Historic England’s Places of Worship Forum, for services to Heritage;
- MBE for Sue Ball, of Coven, stock, services and activities manager at Staffordshire County Council for services to Libraries;
- MBE for Bill Foster, of Burton-upon-Trent, foster parent, for services to fostering in Staffordshire;
- MBE for Jean Foster, of Burton-upon-Trent, foster parent, for services to fostering in Staffordshire;
- MBE for Ben Robinson, of Burton-upon-Trent, Chairman of Burton Albion, for services to the community in Burton-upon-Trent,
- MBE for Mrs Jane Shepherd, of Stoke-on-Trent, Managing Director of Shepherd PR, for services to International Trade and the community in Staffordshire;
- BEM for Wilf Burt, of Stoke-on-Trent, Vice-President of Staffordshire County Scouts, for services to Scouting, Young People and the community in Stoke-on-Trent.