The man who helped set Fleetwood Town Football Club on an amazing journey into the Football League has been awarded an MBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list, announced today.
Club president Jim Betmead – who reformed the football club in 1997 and has worked closely on its community links – has been rewarded for services to sport and the community in Fleetwood.
Jim told The Gazette: “It’s amazing. Never in my wildest dreams did I think something like this would happen, or even that Fleetwood would be in the Football League.
“I’m extremely proud and shocked. It’s blown me away.”
Over the last 17 years Town have risen from lower leagues to qualifying for League One at the end of last season – a “phoenix from the flames” story for the Fylde coast, after the club folded back in the 1980s.
Jim added: “This is a great accolade for me, my family and all the hard work of everyone, especially chairman Andy Pilley, at Fleetwood Town.”
The hard work of television personality Esther Rantzen has also been celebrated. She is set to get a CBE for services to older people through Silver Line and children through ChildLine.
Silverline is a Kirkham-based helpline for elderly people which fielded 1,800 calls on Christmas Day and Boxing Day this year alone.
The centre celebrated its first anniversary on the Fylde coast in November, having provided much needed comfort and company to isolated and lonely older people.
Esther said: “I’m thrilled this honour recognises the contribution made by ChildLine and The Silver Line, and I’m delighted the talented teams at both have also been recognised for their inspirational work and devotion to the most vulnerable in our society.”
The charity’s chairman also praised Mrs Rantzen.
Prof Patrick Geoghegan said: “It is perfect timing for Esther to receive this honour as The Silver Line which is her inspiration is now a thriving national charity, helping the most lonely and isolated.”
> Paul Cummins and Tom Piper, the creators of the spectacular sea of poppies that engulfed the Tower of London this year, will receive MBEs
They are awarded in recognition of the immensely popular Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, which saw 888,246 ceramic poppies progressively fill the moat at the Tower – one for each British or Colonial military death during the First World War.
Actors John Hurt, Kristin Scott Thomas and Emily Watson, comedian Meera Syal, novelist Ali Smith, Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy and designer Mary Quant also receive awards alongside a damehood for actor Joan Collins, OBEs for James Corden and Cilla star Sheridan Smith
From the world of sport, former athletes Steve Cram and Dame Mary Peters, and Hillsborough campaigners Margaret Aspinall and Trevor Hicks are among those recognised, along with 103-year-old marathon runner Fauja Singh.