Tuesday, 13 October 2020 01:04

Local residents receive accolades in Queen's Birthday Honours Featured

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A FORMER magistrate who created a friends group for Erlestoke Prison, near Devizes, has been made an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Belinda Southwell, 82, from Upton Lovell, near Warminster, first became involved with prisons when she was a magistrate in London and became an official visitor at HMP Brixton.

When she and her retired QC husband Richard moved to Wiltshire 32 years ago she became part of the Independent Monitoring Board at Erlestoke and seven years ago set up the Friends of Erlestoke Prison group.

She was awarded her MBE for services to offender rehabilitation and the community in Wiltshire.

The mother of three and grandmother of ten said she was shocked when she was told about the honour. She said: “It made me feel very humble and unworthy.”

The Erlestoke friends organise many educational and leisure classes for inmates, including yoga and origami, but she said coronavirus had led to all of these being cancelled and this along with tighter restrictions on prisoners had led to recent tensions. The latest inspection found an increase in violence and self-harm.

The former Chief Fire Officer of Wiltshire, Simon Routh-Jones, has been presented with a CBE from the Queen. In 2016 he was awarded the with the Queen’s Fire Service Medal.

Simon, who lives in Burbage near Marlborough, is the Chief Inspector for the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service. He spent the whole of his 37 year career with Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service, joining in 1979 as a probationer firefighter in Salisbury and rising through the service.

Another Burbage resident, Joy Guy, was awarded a British Empire Medal for services to Education.

Chippenham entrepreneur Alison Edgar, has been awarded an MBE. She has been championing entrepreneurs since she started her business in 2011. Since then, she has been twice named one of the UK’s Top Ten Business Advisers by Enterprise Nation, has mentored some of the world’s leading entrepreneurs,

She also mentors pupils at Abbeyfield School, Chippenham and St John’s School, Marlborough

The award for entrepreneurship and small business came as a surprise to Alison who said “Growing up in a high-rise council flat in a small town near Glasgow, receiving an honour was something which I couldn’t have imagined would have been possible. The work I do is, and always has been, to help support businesses and the wider economy so it’s outstanding to have been recognised by the Queen for one of the highest honours in the land. This recognition will inspire me to continue to help entrepreneurs and businesses going forward”.

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