Annual awards ceremony recognises the unsung heroes of Beccles
- Credit: Archant
Community heroes have been honoured for their incredible contributions to groups and projects in Beccles.
Beccles Town Council held its annual awards evening on Tuesday, December 19, to recognise members of the community whose determination helps to make the town so special.
Among those was 92-year-old Kenneth Miller, who has dedicated his life to supporting the Beccles RAF Cadets.
Since 1979, Mr Miller has fulfilled various roles within the organisation, including squadron treasurer, chairman and committee member.
He is the 759 Beccles Squadron’s first honorary president, a role he says he intends to perform, “until I peg out.”
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Mr Miller said: “It was very pleasing and gratifying to be recognised after all these years.”
The former bank manager first joined the Lowestoft Cadets squadron in 1941 when he returned from being evacuated, aged 16.
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He said: “In the war time all us boys wanted to do was fly spitfires.”
In 1943, Mr Miller followed his dreams and served as a sergeant in the RAF for four years working in airborne radar research.
He remains involved with the RAF to this day and over the years he continuously raised thousands of pounds to help support the Beccles squadron.
Flying officer Marin Dobson, who nominated Mr Miller for the award, said: “Through his selfless devotion to duty he has made a positive impact to the thousands of young people living in Beccles.
“He has also enriched the reputation of the Royal Air Force within the local community.”
The Eileen Crisp Award for Youth went to 18-year-old swimmer Jordan Catchpole.
Mr Catchpole has overcome diversity for most of his teenage life having stopped attending mainstream school at the age of 13 due to anxiety caused by autism and learning difficulties.
However, this year he has won the Para Swimming World Series Men’s Junior title, broken the S14 200m backstroke world record and European record.
He trains eight times a week with the City of Norwich Swimming Club and competes in the S14 classification for swimmers with an intellectual impairment.
His mum Claire Catchpole said: “Jordan was very pleased about the award. It’s always nice to know your hometown is supporting you.”
Beccles mayor Richard Stubbings awarded the worthy winners on the night.
He said: “The evening went very well - it was well attended and all the winners were very deserving.
“We want to inspire more even people to get involved in the community and these people make Beccles what it is.”
Peter and Susan Shannon won the Robert Ellwood Award for Outstanding Service to the Community at the special ceremony this week.
The couple founded the Beccles University of the Third Age (U3A) group which helps bring together retired or semi-retired members of the community and offers the chance to share creative, social and learning opportunities.
While Mr Shannon acts as chairman, Mrs Shannon is business secretary for the organisation.
The group formed in 2014 and Mrs Shannon remembers hoping 50 people would turn up to the first meeting.
She said: “In the end 160 turned up in the hall- people just kept pouring in.”
Growing from 160 members offering 15 special interest groups, the organisation
now boasts almost 700 members and offers 60 different groups to join.
Mrs Shannon said: “People are amazed at how big we have grown in three years, we are a lifeline for those new to the area or have lost a partner.
“These days you don’t grow old at 60.”