Community heroes rewarded for service

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Two unsung heroes who together have been serving their communities for at least 85 years have been recognized for their contributions to the lives of other people.

Spalding-based gymnastics coach Alec Harding (69) and Billingborough retained firefighter Jack Moss (65) were honoured by the High Sheriff of Lincolnshire, John Burke, for their long-serving voluntary work.

The pair were among an exclusive group of just 12 people invited to a reception at the Judges’ Lodgings in Castle Square, Lincoln, where they were presented with an engraved lapel pin and certificate.

Mr Harding, head coach at Spalding Gymnastic Academy, has been helping young people to develop their sporting skills for more than 35 years.

Since opening the academy in 1978, membership has jumped from 35 to 600 and young gymnasts’ fortunes have improved further since moving into their own purpose-built gymnasium in Cradge Bank, Spalding, in 2008.

Mr Harding said: “I was very honoured to be given the High Sheriff Award and to have been nominated by Lincolnshire Community Foundation.

“But it’s not just for me, 
it’s for my wife Carole and for everybody else who is involved in the academy.

“I started the academy myself in 1978 and it’s been going ever since then, but the highlight of my career was moving into the present gym in Cradge Bank.

“It was my dream to do it and I always fought for it, but I never thought I would get it until we moved in five years ago.”

Mr Moss is in his 50th year of working at Billingborough Fire Station, starting his career there as a junior firefighter aged just 15 in 1963.

He has been Watch Manager since 1981 and combines his role with that of working as a full-time mechanic.

“I was training some people to be firefighters when I got a phone call from the High Sheriff’s office, telling me that I had been nominated for the awared by the Chief Fire Officer for Lincolnshire, Dave Ramscar,” Mr Moss said.

“I’ve been associated with the fire brigade for 50 years and. to be quite honest, I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.

“But it’s been good to serve the community as well.”