A TRIO of residents were ‘surprised’ and ‘humbled’ to be recognised for their services to the community in the New Year’s Honours list.
Businesswoman Sarah Jewell , of Findon, Durrington ICT apprenticeship initiative organiser Gail Ramsden and Ashington Festival chairman Margaret Alford were all included in this year’s list.
Mrs Jewell and Mrs Ramsden were made MBEs while Mrs Alford will receive the British Empire Medal.
A senior manager at the Valuation Office Agency, Mrs Ramsden helped launch an apprenticeship scheme, which in many cases led to further education or full-time employment for young people.
She said: “We realised that it was going to be very difficult to staff our IT department so we needed a way to get new IT skills in.
“We partnered up with Northbrook College, but we didn’t get that much interest because people didn’t understand what an apprenticeship was exactly – there wasn’t a lot of noise around the topic, so we had to put a lot of effort to contact the schools and target all the young people.”
Mrs Alford got the popular Ashington Festival off the ground in the 1990s and helped lead fundraising efforts for the new community centre, which opened in 2003.
The grandmother of three, who also served on Ashington Parish Council from 2000 to 2003, said: “It was a great surprise and a real honour. It was fantastic news.”
Mrs Alford, a registered child-minder for 32 years until she retired, was born in the village and moved to Findon as a child before returning to Ashington when she married.
She added: “I just love Ashington and the people in the village and there’s so many people that all work voluntarily for good cases and good projects and I think they do so because they care like I do.
“It’s nice I have been selected but I wish everybody else could be selected as well.”
Entrepreneurial skills saw Mrs Jewell, who runs Steyning-based medical insurance firm ALC Health, nominated for her MBE.
She sold her first company – SJA International – which she set up when deciding to go it alone in the industry, last year.
She said: “I think the focus of the award comes from starting from nothing to employing around 30 people and bringing millions of pounds of revenue into the country.
“I thought it was a joke to begin with and I wouldn’t believe it until I saw the list.
“It is amazing to have this recognition and I have had so many responses from people around the world and it has been a humbling experience.”