Wigan grandad honoured with MBE

Tom Walsh from Aspull, has been named on the New Year's Honours List 2016, to be awarded an MBE for services to the community
Tom Walsh from Aspull, has been named on the New Year's Honours List 2016, to be awarded an MBE for services to the community

A WIGAN grandad has been named in the New Year’s honours list in recognition of almost four decades’ service to the community.

Tom Walsh has served as a magistrate, school governor, businessman and currently acts as the president of the borough’s Catholic Men’s Society.

It is a great honour, but I do feel there are other people more worthy of this. But I am totally delighted

Tom Walsh

The 70-year-old told the Wigan Evening Post he was humbled and honoured in equal measure by his MBE award.

Mr Walsh, of Wigan Road, Aspull, said: “It is all very surreal, really. When I got the letter, I could not believe it. I was speechless.

“It is very humbling to think that the community - and the Queen - think I deserve this,

“It is a great honour, but I do feel there are other people more worthy of this. But I am totally delighted.

“I feel that this is also for the people, schools and organisations that I have worked with over the years.”

Mr Walsh, who for several years owned Select-a-Carpet in Ashton, first became a magistrate in Wigan at the age of 33 and only retired this year.

He later became a governor of St Joseph’s RC High School, in Horwich, before taking up the post at Holy Family Catholic Primary School, in Aspull more than 20 years ago, where he is still active today.

He also took up presidency of the Catholic Men’s Society in Wigan in 2013 and relishes the role of organising Rosary Sundays.

But he said his biggest achievement has been getting a plaque dedicated to Martha Hogg, the renowned midwife and Wigan’s first female councillor.

He said: “I stumbled across her by accident and I started to research her.

“On realising the work she did, I started a campaign to get her recognised.

“I spent so much time on the campaign that my wife, Eileen, joked that there were three people in our marriage - myself, her and Martha. She had a lot of patience and understanding.

“But it was worth all the time.

“It was also a great privilege to be asked to be a magistrate. I certainly enjoyed my time there.

“I was there for 37 years until I retired this year. The staff have been outstanding.”

Tom, who has two daughters and four grandchildren, is also a local historian, as a member of Wigan History Society and has worked with English Heritage Network on various projects,

He has also done a lot of historical research in Scholes and hopes to carry on his work on the mining heritage next year.

He said: “I have really enjoyed looking into the history of Scholes. It was my old stomping ground as a child and it is such a lovely community.

“I am hoping to get the history group involved in more projects and I will put my mind into the mining heritage in Scholes next year.”

VETERAN actress Barbara Windsor has said she is “so very honoured, proud and extremely humbled” to be awarded a damehood in the New Year’s Honours.

She is one of a host of stars of stage and screen to be recognised in the list, including fellow east Londoner turned Hollywood star Idris Elba, who said receiving an OBE made him “beyond proud”.

Celebrated thespian Sian Phillips is also made a dame, while Imelda Staunton receives a CBE, and actors David Oyelowo and James Nesbitt get OBEs.

Sporting stars are also well represented, with a knighthood for champion jockey Tony McCoy, former motorsports star John Surtees and footballers Denis Law and Francis Lee receiving CBEs, and two-times Tour de France winner cyclist Chris Froome and snooker player Ronnie O’Sullivan handed OBEs.

Windsor, who first appeared on stage at the tender age of 13 before rising to fame in the Carry On films, is recognised for services to charity and entertainment.

She said: “For a girl from the East End born into a working class family and an evacuee during World War Two, this is truly like a dream. I am so happy and blessed to say it’s real.”

FALKLANDS veteran turned charity campaigner Simon Weston has spoken of his pride after being awarded a CBE in the New Year’s Honours.

The Welsh Guardsman was horrifically injured on board the Sir Galahad warship after it was hit by an Argentine missile at Bluff Cove during the Falklands War in 1982.

Mr Weston, who already has an OBE to his name, said he was stunned when he found out last month that he was to be awarded a CBE.

“I was so proud and it came as a complete surprise,” he added. “My mother was very happy too and I think she found it hard not being able to tell anyone until the New Year’s Honours was made public.

“To be given the CBE for charity work means a great deal to me because it’s something that I have been very passionate about over the past 33 years.

“I still have to pinch myself: I’m just a boy from a coal mining village in the valleys.

He was awarded an OBE in 1992, and in 2014 was named the nation’s most heroic figure in the Freuds Heroes Index, which surveyed more than 4,000 Britons.