Doreen and Jimmy Batchelor
Clockwise from top left: Beryl Windsor, Emma Colyer, Alan Watts and Alistair Spalding
Published: 22 June, 2012
by PETER GRUNER
CANONBURY couple Doreen and Jimmy Batchelor have received the MBE in the Queen’s birthday honours list for bringing up an incredible 150 children.
With three of their own sons, including one who was adopted, the couple, who live off Essex Road, Islington, have been fostering children for 31 years.
Doreen, 70, a former childminder, said: “It came as a complete shock to even be nominated, let alone receive the honour. We’re speechless.”
Jimmy, a retired coach driver, said that, despite the ups and downs over the years, fostering children had generally been a rewarding experience. “You come home from work and there’s always a kid who wants to greet you and tell you about their day,” he said.
Doreen added: “Many of our foster children come back to visit us. We’ve had one come to see us recently who’s a nurse at Whittington Hospital and another is a professional chef.”
Twenty-two years ago Beryl Windsor promised herself that if she beat cancer she would buy herself a narrow boat and spend the rest of her life promoting the “wonderful” system of neglected canals around Islington.
This week, Beryl, 73, who has received the British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to canal festivals, can look back on an extraordinary period of her life. Not only did she beat ovarian cancer, but she went on to buy herself the boat and inspire tens of thousands of people to enjoy the inland waterways.
Beryl, a former PA and secretary, organises the borough’s biggest annual event, Angel Canal Festival, in September.
Even since moving with her husband, electrical engineer Steve Burt, to Birmingham, Beryl has continued organising the popular event from the houseboat she still has at St Pancras Basin, in King’s Cross.
A woman whose Clerkenwell-based organisation challenges fear and prejudice surrounding those with HIV has been awarded an MBE for her groundbreaking work over almost 20 years.
Emma Colyer is the founder and director of Body & Soul, which promotes care and understanding for those affected by HIV.
She said: “Many people living with HIV feel isolated and alone and feel unable to tell their family or friends. We provide therapeutic support, a place where people can speak freely, and aim to develop confidence, self-acceptance and positive health and wellbeing.”
Alistair Spalding, chief executive and artistic director of Sadler’s Wells, has received the CBE for services to dance. Under Mr Spalding, the theatre has become the UK’s leading venue for dance. He said: “I see this honour as recognition not just for myself but everyone working behind the scenes and all the artists and performers that I have had the privilege to work with.”
Alan Watts, who retired last week as Captain of the 5th London Boys’ Brigade which meets at the Wesleyan Chapel in Clerkenwell, received the British Empire Medal. Mr Watts, 77, joined the Boys’ Brigade in 1945 when he was 10 and ran the 5th London for 40 years.
BRITAIN’S first Algerian councillor – former Islington Mayor Mouna Hamitouche – has been awarded the MBE for services to the community and local government.
Speaking this week from Algeria, which she is visiting as a guest of the British ambassador, the Labour councillor said she was delighted with the honour.