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MBE honours for Ryedale stalwarts
THREE women who have dedicated their lives to organisations in Ryedale have been recognised in the New Year Honours.
Jean Thorpe, founder of Ryedale Wildlife Rehabilitation, Jean Kershaw, a trustee and former deputy director of Helmsley Arts Centre, and Elaine Dowell, who set up the national charity Encephalitis Society, which is based in Malton, will each receive an MBE.
Jean, who lives in Norton, will be presented with the award for her work rescuing and rehabilitating sick and injured animals.
She became interested in wildlife after nursing a bird with a broken wing back to health at the age of 12. Jean said it was a complete surprise to find out that she was being honoured with the accolade.
“I was absolutely thrilled when I found out, but it was a huge surprise. I still have no idea who nominated me so I am hoping that comes out now,” she said.
“I’m probably going to take my two children with me. They were really excited for me. I will probably be a bit nervous but you’re bound to be aren’t you.”
Jean set up Ryedale Wildlife Rehabilitation in 2005 and her work is entirely voluntary.
Last year she was awarded with a lifetime achievement recognition for badger rehabilitation. She also works in schools to encourage children to appreciate nature and helps to educate them about the local wildlife.
Jean has also established herself as an expert witness in enforcement cases, supporting the work of the National Wildlife Crime Unit and now works alongside the police, RSPB, RSPCA and Natural England.
She said local people had been incredibly supportive of the work she does with animals and nature.
“When people find out you’re interested in something like that they support it and when you’re really interested in something it just goes from there really.”
Jean Kershaw, from Nawton, was one of the founders of Helmsley Arts Centre and has been recognised for her contribution to the arts.
Fellow trustee Martin Vander Weyer said she had made an enormous voluntary contribution to the centre and it was good news that she had been recognised at last.
“Everyone at the arts centre will be thrilled and delighted that Jean’s contribution over so many years has been recognised,” he said.
“She was a founder of the project 30 years ago and has worked tirelessly to help develop it, in particular the classical music programme which we are very proud of and is nationally recognised and has been almost entirely Jean’s work and her enthusiasm has never flagged.”
Elaine Dowell founded the Encephalitis Society in 1994 with her husband Keith, after their son Andrew became ill with the disease.
She said encephalitis, which is an infection of the brain, had left Andrew with learning difficulties, epilepsy and problems with behaviour.
“I sought information and support for our son’s problems but there was no group focusing on the illness,” she said.
“With help from a national charity ‘Contact a Family’, I formed a support group and began producing information.”
Elaine said she initially worked from home but as the group grew, the centre of operations moved to Malton in 1999.
“Successful lottery funding in 2000 paid for more staff and further development and the society’s resource of information on the illness and especially on the subsequent problems was hailed as the most comprehensive available anywhere,” she said.
Elaine worked for the charity for 18 years, managing the society during its period of growth and throughout headed the information section.
She retired in 2012 and now supports the Camphill Movement which has more than 30 communities in the UK, including The Croft in Malton.
Elaine is a trustee for Camphill Families and Friends, she produces its newsletter and manages its website www.camphillfamiliesandfriends.com
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