Honours for champions

Retired teacher Kebir Berry from Pontefract. Awarded MBE in Queens New Years honour list.'p306a253
Retired teacher Kebir Berry from Pontefract. Awarded MBE in Queens New Years honour list.'p306a253

THREE community champions have been made MBEs in the Queen’s new year honours list for their services to the area.

Tireless volunteer Kebir Berry, 72, was nominated for his services to Pontefract, as he has served on a variety of charities, schools and other community organisations for more than 40 years.

Pontefract Racecourse managing director Norman Gundill received his MBE for services to horseracing, while Featherstone district councillor June Cliffe has been rewarded for her service to the community.

Mr Berry is chairman of governors at Carleton Community High School, a governor at The King’s School, vice-chairman of The King’s Foundation in Pontefract, vice-chairman and treasurer of St Mary’s Community Centre in Chequerfield, a life member of St Giles’ with St Mary’s Pantomime Society, a life member of Castleford Referees’ Association, a past-president of Pontefract Probus Club, a member of Pontefract Groups Together and Pontefract and Ackworth Almshouses Charity Trust.

Born and brought up in Pontefract, Mr Berry was a teacher in the town for nearly 40 years, teaching PE at Carleton Community High School, then after obtaining a degree in maths from the Open University, taught the subject at The King’s School until he retired in 2000.

He said: “It was an extremely pleasant surprise to get the letter. I love Pontefract, it’s a marvellous town and I’m very passionate about making sure children here get the best, so it’s important for me to be involved in education, so I put the time in.

“There’s no way I could do what I’m doing if I was still working, I’ve taken on more since I retired, but I do it because I love doing it, because I enjoy it.”

Mr Gundill, 70, is secretary, managing director and clerk to the course at Pontefract, starting there in 1967, and was also director of the Racecourse Association from 1977 to 2003 and director of the British Horseracing Board from 1999 to 2003.

He was a senior partner at Pontefract law firm Carters, formerly Carter, Bentley and Gundill, from 1979 to 2002, and a consultant there until retiring in 2009.

Mr Gundill said: “I was very surprised, it never occurred to me because I have done what I have done because I have enjoyed doing it. I have been walking on air but biting my lip since I got the letter, but it’s been wonderful since it was announced, with everyone ringing to congratulate me. I feel very humble.

“I want to thank my wife Dianne, who has put up with impossible hours, but has enjoyed it as much as me and helped enormously.

“I hope I will be able to carry on for a long time.”

Coun Cliffe, who was campaigning in November, to keep Featherstone Sports Centre running as a community facility, was rewarded for services to Sharlston, where she has lived since 1956, with husband Jack, making her first impact on the village by starting a guide unit the following year.

She said: “I’ve tried to help in everything, in any way I can. I absolutely love the people here, and I feel that this award belongs to them because if they hadn’t been behind me all the way I would not have received it.

“I’ll keep doing what I’m doing because I’m one of those people who can’t keep still. It’s lovely to be recognised, a super feeling.”