Lifesaver and astronaut among those receiving awards in Queen’s Birthday Honours

Michael Rowsell
Michael Rowsell
Portsmouth Guildhall Picture: Garth Groombridge

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HE has dedicated his life to helping others and risked death on countless occasions to rescue people in dangerous situations.

Now selfless Michael Rowsell has been awarded the British Empire Medal for his long service to the community.

Tim Peake

Tim Peake

The 69-year-old spent four decades involved in air and rescue operations for the Royal Navy and UK Coastguard at Lee-on-the-Solent.

His career with both organisations, from 1972 up until his retirement in 2003, saw him dispatched to the scene of a tragedy where a man plunged off cliffs at Beachy Head.

And he helped to rescue around 20 people stranded on a sailing training vessel.

Michael and his wife Christine, of Gosport, also fostered and brought up two handicapped children – and caring Michael led a team who raised more than £45,000 for the disabled community to give them a better life.

Speaking to The News about his prestigious honour from the Queen in her Birthday Honours list, Michael said: ‘I’m incredibly proud. But when I look at people around me and the work they do, I think; “why me?”.

‘I look at the things I’ve done, but then there are those who are more deserving.

‘When you see what volunteers do in the community, it’s very humbling.’

Talking about the work he has done to help disabled people, Michael said: ‘It’s just something my wife and I decided we should do.

‘We are a Christian family. When you get involved with a disabled child, the ball just starts rolling – it’s a snowball that grows and grows.

‘You don’t realise what you are doing, you just keep going.

‘We went to foster and our children were happy for us to do it. The first one, Jason, grew up with us and became part of the family.

‘Then came Victoria. They are grown up now, and we still look out and are responsible for them; we are their appointees.’

Meanwhile the man who spearheaded some of the city’s biggest sporting spectacles has also been honoured.

David Knight was responsible for bringing the Great South Run into the city along withys and 1994’s Tour de France.

And he has played a pivotal role in leading the government’s national sports strategy, developing some of the nation’s top sporting facilities and Olympic athletes.

David, 70, of Southsea, is now being made an MBE by the Queen for his commitment to sport.

Speaking of the accolade, the father-of-three said: ‘This will be one of the proudest moments of my life.

‘It’s almost up there with getting married and having children.

‘I was dumbfounded when I heard I was being made an MBE. I couldn’t believe it.’

David, of Whitwell Road, moved to Portsmouth in 1985 and worked at the city council for almost 20 years, retiring as the authority’s head of leisure.

In this time he helped lead the set-up of the Great South Run and Tour de France bid.

Speaking of the Great South Run, he said: ‘To see it grow from 3,000 people to now over 30,000 and becoming one of the largest 10-mile events in the world is amazing.’

David also helped secure the £5.5m lottery award for the Mountbatten Centre and set up Portsmouth Interactive, a sports initiative for those overcoming mental health issues.

David said his MBE would not have been possible without the help of his wife, family and colleagues over the years.

A DOCTOR who has spent more than 30 years helping to improve the health of children and families in local communities has been awarded a CBE for her incredible work.

Dr Cheryll Adams, is a co-founder of the Institute of Health Visiting, which aims to raise standards in health through research and education and ensure every family receives a high quality of care.

Dr Adams, of Emsworth, has worked with the government on a number of initiatives to improve children’s lives and currently sits on the NSPCC’s research ethics committee.

She is also an adviser for UNICEF Europe: supporting the introduction of a health visiting-type role into 22 countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

Speaking of her success, Dr Adams said: ‘It’s very special and I am very honoured.

‘I am a bit flabbergasted if I’m honest. You don’t expect these things, and when they happen it’s a wonderful surprise. I am really delighted for my profession.’

Dr Adams previously supported the government of Kazakhstan to introduce the profession there. Dr Adams began her career as a nurse at London’s St George’s Hospital, before qualifying as a health visitor and working in practice in Rowlands Castle and Emsworth for almost 20 years. Former iHV chair, Sally Russell, said: ‘Cheryll inspires those around her with a wonderful combination of determination, passion and humility.’

A FORMER city council boss has told of his pride at being awarded a CBE by the Queen.

Liberal democrat leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson has said he is ‘chuffed to bits’ at receiving the accolade for his services to local government.

But the 54-year-old councillor is not the first in his family to be honoured by royalty – both his mother Jean and grandfather Robert Hole received MBEs.

Speaking of his CBE, Cllr Vernon-Jackson said: ‘I’m really, really chuffed about it. It’s a real honour and a privilege.’

Cllr Vernon-Jackson was first elected as a councillor in 1991 and rose to become Portsmouth City Council’s leader for ten years, resigning from the role in May 2014.

During his time as city chief, he pushed through a £1.6m loan from council to the Portsmouth Supporters’ Trust to enable them to buy the Pompey and stop it going into liquidation.

However, Cllr Vernon-Jackson said his proudest moment in politics was helping to save the Royal Navy base in Portsmouth, in 2008, from being axed.

‘Portsmouth without the navy would have been a city without a soul,’ he added.

INSPIRATIONAL astronaut Tim Peake is celebrating after being awarded an Order of St Michael and St George (CMG) for services to space research and scientific education.

Major Peake, who grew up in Westbourne, West Sussex, said from the International Space Station: ‘I am honoured to receive the first appointment to the Most Distinguished Order of St Michael and St George for extraordinary service beyond our planet.’

In another record for Major Peake, his CMG has made him the first person to be honoured while in space. He said that the award was not just for him, and dedicated it to everyone who had made his mission possible.

Major Peake is one 1,150 people to be acclaimed in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

Other well-known faces to be honoured include Veteran singer Rod Stewart, Forces sweetheart Dame Vera Lynn, TV duo Ant and Dec, actor Brian Blessed and actress Penelope Wilton.

Dame Vera, 99, joined the likes of Sir David Attenborough, Dame Maggie Smith and Stephen Hawking in becoming a Companion of Honour, as did former governor of the BBC, Lord Smith of Kelvin.