Hinchingbrooke awards scheme veteran’s is Hunts’ only New Year honour

THE man who has run the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme at Hinchingbrooke School for more than 30 years was the only Huntingdonshire resident included in The Queen’s New Year Honours.

Mike Baker, who taught economics to hundreds of pupils from the school’s opening in 1970 until he took early retirement in 1999 and who was housemaster to thousands more, was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire in recognition of his service to the community in Huntingdon.

But, although he was housemaster of the school’s Pepys House for 21 years – looking after a quarter of the young people passing through their secondary education there, it was not for his educational work that he was recognised.

Nor was it for his membership of Huntingdonshire District Council – a member of the Liberal Democrat group that is led by his former head teacher Peter Downes – having won the Ellington seat from Tory Mark Lancaster, who is now MP for Milton Keynes North, nor his chairmanship of Easton Parish Council.

As well as his work with the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme, he has been chairman of the Huntingdon Volunteer Centre and its preceding bureau for 10 years, is chairman of the trustee body for the newly-refurbished St John’s Almshouses in Huntingdon’s Brampton Road, a trustee of the Nene and Ouse Community Transport operation and Huntingdon Olympic Gym Club – “it’s one of the jewels in Huntingdon’s crown” – and a member of the board of Huntingdon-based social landlord the Luminus Group.

He also runs a gardening scheme for around 50 elderly people in the district at a time, which puts his young people into contact with senior citizens. “Otherwise those who read The Daily Mail rather than The Hunts Post are inclined to believe that all young people are yobs,” Mr Baker, who at the age of 65 still runs the school’s DoE programme in his retirement, told this newspaper.

“I’m still in and out of the school quite a bit, and I also help to organise the summer openings of Hinchingbrooke House.

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“Young people are the future of the country, and they have lots of enthusiasm.”

And the award? “It’s very nice. My mum and dad would have been very happy, if they had lived to see the day.”