British Empire Medal for Great Staughton granddad

A GREAT Staughton grandfather has been awarded the British Empire Medal in the Queen’s 2012 birthday honours.

Peter Willmer, 82, of The Green, was awarded the medal for services to his community. The reality, however, is that he has worked tirelessly for decades for many more people than the residents of his native village.

He said: “I was pleasantly surprised. I have had a lovely letter from the Lord Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire congratulating me on my success. It hasn’t quite sunk in yet.”

His commitment to the people of Cambridgeshire spans more than half a decade.

After two years national service, Mr Willmer embarked on a 41-year career as an auctioneer and estate agent.

He said: “I have lived in Great Staughton all my life and I am the oldest native living in the village.

“I was a partner in Ekins Dilley and Handley. I started there when I was 17 in 1947 and finished in 1988.”

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His philanthropic activities include membership of more than 20 committees and organisations. He served as a county councillor for six years and went on to be a magistrate for 34 years. He is still a church warden at St Andrew’s Church in Great Staughton, a post he has held for 38 years.

He has also been a parish councillor for 57 years, 19 as chairman, and at the end of his current term of office he will have reached his own diamond jubilee.

He has served as chairman of the governors of the village primary school and has been involved in Littlehey Prison and the Royal British Legion.

On top of all this, the busy granddad finds time to spend three months every year in Africa.

He said: “We have been going to Gambia every year for the last 34 years, giving direct aid out there. We like doing it. We came back in March and we will be going again in November. It’s nice to see where your money goes.”

He has been married to Jean for 60 years. They have three children, Rebecca, Richard and Andrew and four grandchildren.

He joked that he has never played golf in his life because he doesn’t have the time and added: “I suppose being 82 and still active I have a lot to be thankful for.”

MBE for Ramsey horticulturalist

John Drake has been given an MBE in this year’s honours for his voluntary services to horticulture.

Mr Drake is known throughout the county for his work for the National Gardens Scheme and he has served as a judge for the Royal Horticultural Society at the Chelsea Flower Show for several years.

As the founder member of the Cambridgeshire Gardens Trust, he led the restoration of an overgrown Victorian kitchen garden in the grounds of what is now Abbey College in Ramsey. The Ramsey Abbey Walled Kitchen Garden was officially opened in May 2010 and has attracted more 2,500 visitors.