Two councillors awarded BEM in New Year Honours

Graham Dark of Spalding has a BEM in the New Year's honours list. He is pictured looking through some of the photographs he took during  the visits he has arranged recently, including an air display EMN-141230-173356009
Graham Dark of Spalding has a BEM in the New Year's honours list. He is pictured looking through some of the photographs he took during the visits he has arranged recently, including an air display EMN-141230-173356009
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BEM HONOURS: Coun Michael Booth. SG030412-114TW

The British Empire Medal has been awarded to Coun Graham Dark for services to the community in Spalding and Coun Michael Booth for his services to the community of Sutton Bridge.

BEM - Coun Michael Booth.

BEM - Coun Michael Booth.

Coun Dark (74) has been a member of South Holland District Council for eight years.

He has done voluntary work driving Age Concern ambulances and is secretary of the Spalding Indoor Bowls Club.

For more than 20 years he has run the Spalding Fifty Plus Club, which has hundreds of members and he helps organise trips for them all. He also helps out at a disabled swimming club and has put on six concerts to raise money for Help for Heroes in the South Holland Centre, which has so far raised £34,500.

His inspiration for fundraising came from his 32 years in the police, which saw him working in London during the IRA bombing.

As a councillor, he has recently helped set up a changing room for disabled adults at the South Holland Centre. He said: “I find it very enjoyable dealing with ward matters. I am involved in a lot of community projects.”

Being nominated came as quite a surprise. Coun Dark said: “I didn’t want to tell anyone because I was working on the assumption I might not get it.

“I’m thrilled. It’s quite an honour really and the nice thing is this is awarded by people who have written in and appreciated what you have done.”

Coun Dark, of Morus Close, is married to Kerry and has a son, Stuart, and four grandchildren. He does not know when he will receive the medal, but he has been invited to attend a royal garden party later in the year.

Coun Booth (73), who is a district councillor as well as parish councillor, said he had to sit down when the letter arrived from the House of Commons.

He said: “I came home for a cup of tea and the letter was in the post. When I saw the envelope say House of Commons I had to sit down. My wife was very pleased. I am very pleased and honoured that the people I represent felt I am worthy to have my name put forward.”

Coun Booth was chairman of the working party which did the first privatisation for Margaret Thatcher at the Sutton Bridge Estate in 1979. He has been fundraising for the Market House Trust and the church, both at Long Sutton.

For the past 14 years has been housing chairman for South Holland. He said: “I have done all I possibly can to get new houses built.

“I’ve enjoyed being a councillor and it’s certainly been challenging. I would not have put myself up for this long if I did not enjoy it.”

Coun Booth is married to Mary and they have a daughter, Ann-Marie, and a son, Simon. He lives at Curlew Lodge.

Former Spalding man Chris Bates, who was a journalist for the Lincolnshire Standard Group in Boston, has been awarded the MBE.

Mr Bates (66) received the award for services to Tristan da Cunha interests in the UK and worldwide. He joined the BBC as one of the team pioneering local radio in 1970 on BBC Radio Blackburn and has also worked in television.

From 1990 onwards, he became involved with the journalism department at the University of Tartu in Estonia, where staff were supporting the campaign to restore the country’s independence from the Soviet Union. The day following the re-establishment of a free Estonian Government, he was invited to lecture to journalism students on the principles of a free press.

He later assisted with the establishment of a code to ensure freedom of the press in Estonia and gave a series of lectures on British journalism at the University of St Petersburg.