A MUM from Catworth who offers disabled children respite care in her home, an assistant headteacher from St Neots and a senior fire officer have all been recognised in the New Year Honours. Pat Molloy, 57, a trained nurse, who has offered respite care in

Geoff Watts

A MUM from Catworth who offers disabled children respite care in her home, an assistant headteacher from St Neots and a senior fire officer have all been recognised in the New Year Honours.

Pat Molloy, 57, a trained nurse, who has offered respite care in her home to 22 children in 19 years, has been made a Member of the order of the British Empire for her services to disabled children.

Geoff Watts, a magistrate and assistant principal at St Neots Community College, has been made an MBE for services to education.

And Cheryl Rolph from Sawtry, director of people and performance for Huntingdon-based Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service, becomes an OBE - Officer of the order of the British Empire - for services to the fire and rescue services.

Cheryl Rolf

Mrs Molloy and her husband Michael have been looking after disabled children since she saw a notice in a doctor's surgery when she took their son Richard there, aged six, with earache.

Mrs Molloy said: "It asked if people would look after these children and I thought, yes I could do that, I had two healthy children, I was lucky and I would help people who were less fortunate. It's something I love doing. I certainly did not expect to receive an honour for it but I am very thrilled just the same."

The Molloys have a grown-up son, Richard, daughter, Jane and two grandchildren, Joseph and Niamh, aged six and three. Mrs Molloy is pictured with three children she was looking after yesterday (Tuesday), Stuart, Ruben and Daniel.

Mr Watts, 53, who is assistant principal at St Neots Community College and head of the sixth form, has taught at the former Ernulf Community School for 32 years, making him the longest-serving member of staff.

He is also a governor of the school and secretary of the parent/teacher group. In his career at the college, he has taken just two days' sick leave. A resident of Eaton Socon, he is also a magistrate and a member of St Neots Hockey Club.

Born in London, he attended Huntingdon Grammar School before teacher training at Weymouth College of Education from where he joined Ernulf in 1973, teaching history and humanities.

"I believe that this very public recognition is not just for me but for the colleagues past and present, who have devoted their professional lives to the education of young people," he said.

"I thoroughly enjoy being head of sixth form here at the college and supporting an guiding our students as they move forward with their lives. It's so rewarding to help and encourage young people to reach their full potential and watch them as they progress within the college and then proceed to higher education or their chosen career."

College principal, Joe Pajak, and acting principal, Mark Duke said in a joint statement: "The education of so many young people has been and continues to be enriched by having Geoff Watts as their teacher".

Ms Rolf, 44, has been in the fire service in the county for 25 years, progressing from fire controller to assistant chief officer.

She said: "This is a special honour, as it highlights above all the importance and significance of Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service and the contribution it makes to making the county a safer place to live and work".

When, in 2000, she was appointed as temporary chief executive while the service was without a Chief Fire Officer, it was not only the first time a non-uniformed member of staff had held the top position, but also the first time a woman had been appointed to the post.

In 2003 she became the first non-uniformed member of the Chief Fire Officers' Association Board of directors.

"This service recognised a long time ago that it's not the clothes you wear but the job you do that counts," she explained. "Collectively we all deliver the Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service and want to provide the best service we can to our communities.

"During my time here I've met a lot of good people who, no matter what part they play in the organisation, are all committed to the fire service. Receiving an OBE reflects the work of everyone within the organisation."

For many years she has also been involved in the organisation Networking Women in the fire service - an organisation of and for women firefighters and other fire service women employees - and is currently group national secretary. She has supported the group since it was formed in 1993 and in 1997 was appointed on to the national committee.

She is also a committee member for the National Firefighters' Benevolent Fund.

She is married to John, a retired senior divisional fire officer whom she met at work. They have three children and two grandchildren. She enjoys most sports, likes to keep fit and is an enthusiastic Chelsea supporter.

Tom Carroll, chief fire officer, said: "The OBE reflects Cheryl's relentless hard work and dedication to the fire service locally and nationally. She is thoroughly deserving of such an honour.