Memories of piggy bank theft inspired neighbourhood watch stalwart

Valerie McPherson, from Longwick, chair of the regional Thames Valley Neighbourhood Watch Association has been awarded a British Empire Medal
Valerie McPherson, from Longwick, chair of the regional Thames Valley Neighbourhood Watch Association has been awarded a British Empire Medal
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A neighbourhood watch chair has been recognised for her extensive voluntary work across Thame Valley.

Valerie McPherson has been awarded a British Empire Medal for her dedication as chair of the Regional Thames Valley Neighbourhood Watch Association.

Valerie, in her 60s, was first inspired to set up a local Neighbourhood Watch group in Luton 32 years ago after she recalled the horror of being burgled as a child, when the thieves even took the money from her piggy bank.

The mother-of-two, who lives in Longwick with husband Ian, in his 70s, said: “I have been overwhelmed by the amount of calls, texts and emails I’ve received since I received the news. It’s quite amazing.”

After starting with just one road, Valerie – who also works full time in London for an international holding company – soon became area co-ordinator then regional co-ordinator.

In Luton, she was previously responsible for 30,000 homes and now has around 11,500 co-ordinators and deputies under the Thames Valley umbrella, as well as being area co-ordinator for Longwick, Ilmer, Owlswick and Little Meadle.

Valerie, who is mother to Annette and Michelle – both in their 30s – uses the Thames Valley Alerts messaging system which allows Thames Valley Police, Neighbourhood Watch and other community groups to work together in making their neighbourhoods safer.

She organises the Thame Valley region’s annual AGM each year and sits on the National Neighbourhood Watch Association as a representative of the South East region.

Valerie, who is also grandmother to eight-month-old Isabelle, said: “Thames Valley is a very large area and there is a lot of work involved, but I enjoy it.

“I try to prevent the fear of crime. Neighbourhood Watch is changing. It’s going out to the community and helping people to help eachother and look out for one another.”

This is not the first time Valerie has been awarded for her efforts; in June 2013 she was the national winner of the Neighbourhood & Home Watch’s Community Advocacy Award across the UK and Wales a National Award.

She was given it in a ceremony at the Houses of Parliament in recognition of her outstanding achievement, accomplishments and commitment to Neighbourhood Watch.