New Year honours for community stalwarts in Wing and Stewkley

British Empire Medal
British Empire Medal

Two figures at the hearts of their local communities have been given British Empire Medals in recognition for their tireless work over the years.

Joyce Brooker, 85, has dedicated her life to her home village of Wing helping to raise more than £15,000.

She recently retired from her position as secretary of The Wing Hall Trust after 35 years but still runs the local magazine What’s On in Wing.

Not only has she dedicated her time to pen and typewriter, but Joyce has been busy volunteering at The Cupboard, a shop she founded where people can donate unwanted items and 25 per cent of its profits go to community organisations.

Joyce said: “I’m quite excited about my honour - I don’t know too much about it, but I decided I should accept it because of all the people who have helped me over the years.

“In the beginning, I was very very busy as secretary and I used to help contact people that we wanted to work for us or met them to discuss everything.

“I thoroughly enjoyed it; it’s all very modern these days.

“They have all been doing it on email but I haven’t got a computer!”

Joyce was born in Wing and has lived in the village for her whole life, apart from when she and her husband, Charles, spent 12 years in Linslade when they got married until a plot of land became free in the village.

The couple moved back to Wing in the 1970s and in 1988 Joyce founded The Cupboard with Charles supporting her many activities until he passed away seven years ago.

Joyce said: “I went on holiday and there was a small shop and I used to visit and take in what they were doing.

“From watching their charity work, I dreamed up The Cupboard and when room became available to rent in the village hall some ladies I was friendly with helped me get it going.”

Joyce’s work via The Cupboard has helped the Brownies and Guides, Cubs and Scouts, Wing Welfare Committee and Age Concern.

She added: “Charles always used to say ‘come on, give it a bit of a rest’ but he’d be very proud of my BEM.

“He used to help me take round the What’s On’s.

“I would also like to say a big thank you to Mavis and Simon Kimber who take the magazines to the distributors.”

Meanwhile, in neighbouring Stewkley John Cornish, 83, was honoured with a British Empire Medal for his 50 years of service to Stewkley Village Hall.

He has led and managed two major refurbishments, the first of which was a member of the committee and the second as its chairman.

John said: “It was a complete surprise to receive the letter from the cabinet office and I’m certainly very pleased.

“Obviously you can’t talk about it very much before the announcement but I do hope my family is happy.

“It’s not an easy secret to keep!

“It was never hard for me working on the committee as I enjoyed it so much.

“I’m a farmer and we don’t have much free time but this is something I have always enjoyed taking part in.”

John said he never imagined receiving a national honour and praised his fellow members on the committee.

The first refurbishment of the hall took place in 1976.

John led the project with the vision of making it a more visitor-friendly building.

The entrance and the heating system was upgraded, the stage was moved, part of the roof was repaired and the access to the kitchen and toilets was improved and the entire project cost £10,500.

The money to fund this came courtesy of Bucks County Council as well as being raised through local fundraising events which were run by the Village Hall committee.

In 2008, as chairman, he led another refurbishment project with the intention of improving health and safety and fully modernising the building.

The kitchen and toilet area was redesigned and replaced and the entrance was moved to a safer place which allowed it to become more accessible for disabled people.