COMMUNITY champion Ronnie Barker received his MBE from Prince William in a prestigious ceremony at Buckingham Palace on Thursday (May 21).
Ronnie, 69, from Cowpe, was named in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List for his services to the community.He is chairman of Veterans In Communities , a Haslingden-based charity working throughout East Lancashire, Rochdale, Heywood and Middleton to help veterans return, belong and prosper in their communities.
Ronnie said: “It was a great honour and a great shock when I was notified of the award and being invited to visit London to receive the award from Prince William was an amazing experience not just for me but also for my wife Carole and son Simon.
“Unfortunately our daughter Sanchia could not get time off in Florence to take up her invitation to the palace.
“It was a once in a lifetime experience that can never be surpassed and having waited so long since the New Year I thought I would have conquered my nervousness but the reality of the occasion took over and the butterflies took flight.
“I am truly humbled in the knowledge that the people of Rossendale felt me worthy of such an honour and I only hope I can live to justify the award.”
Ronnie has been a champion of VIC since its inception in 2012 and has been well-known for his community work in Rossendale for many years.
He was a founder of PEER – People Encouraging Enterprise in Rossendale, which led to the formation of Valley at Work and was a co-founder of REAL – Rossendale Enterprise Anchor Limited.
The retired managing director of Bacup-based footwear firm E Sutton and Son has devoted decades to supporting community groups and enterprise across Rossendale.
As well being chairman of VIC, he is also a member of the charity’s singing group.
He volunteers with the Dementia Friendly Rossendale Steering Group. Indeed two days before attending the Palace he was manning a stand for the group in Rawtenstall’s Asda for Dementia Awareness Week.
Ronnie is vice-chairman of governors at Alder Grange Community Technology School, Rawtenstall as well as being a patient representative of the East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group.