A local astronomer has become a star himself after being presented with a British Citizen Award at the Palace of Westminster.
Ross Hockham was honoured for his work with UK Astronomy, which he set up in 2014 despite knowing nothing about stargazing.
His charity visits schools, community groups and care homes in Aylesbury and Buckinghamshire with its telescopes to inspire thousands of people to look up in wonder at our skies.
Ross, a full time London firefighter, said: “Today we arrived at parliament along with a host of others to receive a medal and certificate for services to education!
“I was truly humbled to have been nominated and chosen to receive a British Citizens Award, something I didn’t even know about until I received an email a couple of months ago.
“My wife and friend had nominated me secretly. Today I realised that thanks to all those that have supported us, believed in us and volunteered, we have made a difference to not only our local communities but hopefully across the UK.
“So a massive thank you to you all, and please continue to help inspire and look up in wonder…”
All of Ross’s spare time is spent checking night sky guides and creating activity sheets for kids, recording podcasts and running the monthly photo competition.
Ross feels astronomy has no barriers and is a great way of bringing people together from all races, genders and ages.
Ruth Mayhew, of Aylesbury Town Council, said: “We have been working with Ross and Frankie since the very early stages of the charity. It has been a joy to see them grow and evolve the charity and variety of ways they reach and inspire budding astronomers.
“It’s always a joy to work with them – their passion and enthusiasm infiltrates every aspect of our partnership, which results in events that are professionally organised, run to an exceptionally high standard and most importantly brings the excitement of the universe directly to our community, with engaging, knowledgeable, approachable volunteers and activities.”
UK Astronomy, which has over 20,000 members online, is raising £35,000 to buy an inflatable planetarium so students can look at the sky come cloud or rain, night or day.