Honour from Queen for Wigan Casino soul DJ

Northern Soul DJ and broadcaster Richard Searling
Northern Soul DJ and broadcaster Richard Searling

A top Wigan Casino DJ has spoken of his pride after receiving the British Empire Medal in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

Richard Searling, who was the resident deck-spinner at the famous Northern Soul venue for seven years starting in 1974, said he was honoured to receive the accolade.

He received the BEM for services to the soul music industry and community in the north of England.

The 66-year-old was put forward for the honour by listeners to his radio shows.

He said: “I’m delighted and honoured. It’s a reflection of my life in music and something tangible and very prestigious.

“It’s important to me that this raises the profile of the music, which has lasted the test of time and is something people identify with.

“We’ve kept flying the flag and playing the music and I think the community benefits from all the work that goes into that.

“Northern Soul is something the north of England can be proud of and our area is the best-known of all.

“You talk to anyone about Northern Soul and they will mention Wigan before anywhere else because of the Casino.

“It was a wonderful surprise to get the letter from the Cabinet Office, although at first I thought had been done for speeding! It’s something I will remember for the rest of my life.”

Richard’s other achievements include co-sponsoring the Wigan Casino blue plaque at the site of the nightspot and helping the film Northern Soul.

Also receiving the BEM is 82-year-old Enid Hales from Newton-le-Willows, who founded a group for older women in the community 25 years ago.

She said: “I’m absolutely amazed and humbled. I didn’t expect anything of this nature.

“The community enjoys the evenings and I enjoy doing what I do.”