A proud new year for three with honours

Gillian Wood received the Silver Acorn award from Bob Lovesey.
Gillian Wood received the Silver Acorn award from Bob Lovesey.

A professor who has helped to protect public health has been awarded a CBE in the New Year’s Honours List.

Professor Richard Parish, 62, who lives in Moggerhanger has been given the honour after he spent eight years as chief executive of the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH).

The chartered biologist helped to rescue the previous, debt-laden Royal Institute of Public Health and the Royal Society of Health when he first took on the role.

He said: “When I first started between them the organisations were in a bad way – there was several million pounds of debt there and if things had stayed as they were then at least one of them would have gone out of existence.

“They were merged as the RSPH which I left in June, and which now has assets of more than £7 million.”

Professor Parish – who has lived in Moggerhanger with his wife Jo for a decade – had a variety of responsibilities at the RSPH, a charity which promotes and protects health and welfare.

He said: “The work would involve everything from policies on battling cancer, obesity and heart disease to liaising with the government on health policy.

“When I first started it was especially challenging as the 9/11 attacks had just taken place.

“We were tasked with considering what plans would be put in place if a biological, chemical or radioactive attack were to take place in Europe and especially in London, for example if a dirty bomb was activated.”

Professor Parish said the nomination came as a complete surprise.

He added: “I received the letter six weeks ago but I couldn’t tell anyone.

“It was completely unexpected and until I saw how much detail was on there I thought maybe it was a friend playing a joke on me!”

Professor Parish has also been awarded an honorary fellowship from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, an accolade which is rarely given.

Past recipients have included Albert Einstein and Marie Curie.

There have also been celebrations for Gillian Wood, the secretary of the Biggleswade District Scout Group who has been awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to children.

Gillian, of Lower Stondon, has volunteered at cub, scout, brownie and guide groups for the last 40 years and in Chronicle Country since the mid 1970s.

She moved to the area from Devon and was involved with the 1st Shefford Scout Group before moving to the Biggleswade group.

As district secretary she serves the organisation that looks after 13 groups in Chronicle Country.

Gillian said: “I wasn’t expecting it at all – one day around six weeks ago this grand-looking envelope arrived and I couldn’t believe it when I read the letter.

“It was a wonderful surprise but it’s something for the whole group really – everyone involved has earned this.”

Gillian was previously given a Silver Acorn award for service in the scouts.

Eric Stuart of Biggleswade has been awarded a Queen’s Police Medal (QPM) for distinguished service during 33 years with the Metropolitan Police.

The 54-year-old latterly worked at New Scotland Yard on operational planning for events like the Notting Hill Carnival and New Year’s Eve.