Unsung heroes honoured by Queen’s representative at awards ceremony

Sir Henry arrives at the ceremony
Sir Henry arrives at the ceremony

People from around Bucks who have spent their lives contributing to the community have been honoured at an evening of pomp and ceremony.

The Lord-Lieutenant’s awards ceremony highlighted the best the county’s military and non-military community has to offer, with a number of Vale residents recognised.

People collected a range of awards at the event at Aylesbury Vale District Council, including the British Empire Medal, the Lord-Lieutenant’s cadets and reservist of the year, who received a certificate, a cheque and, to the envy of many, two cases of beer.

The British Empire Medal was reintroduced this year after being scrapped in 1992, and two Vale unsung heroes, Aylesbury’s Corinne Joy Murphy and Neil Gurney of Wingrave, were among the recipients.

Sir Henry Aubrey-Fletcher, the Lord-Lieutenant of Bucks, said those receiving the medal had given ‘selfless, hands on service to their communities’, while Brigadier Neil Baverstock said the awards were symbolic of the close relationship being forged between the military and communities.

Another Vale resident honoured on the night was Roger Jefcoate of Winslow, who was named as a deputy lieutenant, the role of which is to assist the Lord-Lieutenant in any public duty.

The Lord-Lieutenant is Her Majesty the Queen’s representative in the county, supporting numerous charities and businesses across Bucks.

Read on to find out more about the Vale award recipients.

Corinne Joy Murphy

After witnessing the poverty and deprivation Kenyan children face and surviving a life-threatening car crash, Corinne Joy Murphy founded the Karibuni Trust.

One of its first projects was a nursery school in a Nairobi slum, through which children are educated and receive food and medical care. The Trust now supports 14 projects.

When she started the Trust Miss Murphy opened a bank account for it with £2.56. Since then the account has grown to £1 million.

Miss Murphy said she was ‘truly honoured’ to receive the British Empire Medal.

She said: “I wanted to give something back and my first thought was of the children in Kenya.”

Neil Gurney

As well as spending 30 years working as a hairdresser in Wingrave, Neil Gurney has raised thousands of pounds for charities through pantomimes he presents.

The shows are all his own work, with Mr Gurney writing both the script and music, directing, choreographing and playing the piano for all the performances.

He also plays the organ at a number of churches every Sunday, as well as at funerals and weddings.

In addition, Mr Gurney is an accomplished flower arranger and goes all over the country raising money by creating floral decorations.

Using his talents he organises shows and events which are well supported and make an average of £500 each.

Roger Jefcoate

Roger Jefcoate has spent much of his life helping small healthcare charities develop.

In 1960 he helped launch the Mountbatten Trust. Under Sir Ludwig Guttmann he became a founder and deputy leader at the national spinal injuries centre at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, helping develop the world’s first remote control system for severely disabled people and the first head controlled wheelchair.

Mr Jefcoate has established three national charities in Bucks and for more than 35 years he has been leading the campaign to save Britain’s black poplar.

He said becoming a deputy lieutenant was ‘fantastic’, adding: “It’s been a real pleasure and privilege to help so many people.”