Islanders honoured with royal recognition

King's birthday honours. Ronald Perchard awarded British Empire Medal (BEM) for service to the Jersey Sea Cadet Corps. Picture: JON GUEGAN (38289987)

WITH Saturday 15 June marking the official birthday of King Charles III, four Islanders have been recognised for their charitable contributions and will be receiving awards as part of the King’s birthday honours list.

King’s Birthday honours. Richard Robins has been awarded Member of the Order of theBritish Empire (MBE) for services as Trustee andTreasurer to Shelter Trust in Jersey. Picture: JON GUEGAN (38288424)

Richard Robins MBE

After more than a decade of helping an organisation whose work with the Island’s homeless often goes unseen, royal recognition in the form of an MBE came as “a very pleasant surprise” for Richard Robins.

One of four Island residents to be named in the King’s Birthday Honours List, Mr Robins has been made an MBE for services as trustee and treasurer for the Shelter Trust.

Although he stepped down as a trustee for the charity late last year, Mr Robins remains involved as organiser of two Shelter events that have become fixtures in the annual calendar: the Tinathon and the Soup Kitchen.

Having first been recruited in 2011 for the Soup Kitchen by his wife Susie, the retired banker has been heavily involved in organising the event since then, and his financial experience led to his appointment as Shelter’s treasurer.

It wasn’t long before the new recruit began to appreciate the value of the charity’s work.

“The moment I got involved I began to realise how much Shelter Trust does to hide homelessness in Jersey.

“People are constantly surprised that there are more than 100 people in Shelter accommodation every night, but it’s not obvious.

“It may be a cliché, but they are an amazing team at Shelter – the management, the trustees, the staff, the outreach team who are out four nights a week checking on people who may be homeless and those who volunteer at our events or provide sponsorship.

“I feel guilty that there are lots of people who give up more time, but I’m the one who’s being recognised.”

Mr Robins hailed the “brilliant idea” of the soup kitchen, started by Michelle Cuthbert in 1999 and having subsequently dispensed tens of thousands of gallons of soup in the Royal Square every December – including a remote/online version during the pandemic.

The event has raised generous sums to help fund Shelter’s ongoing work, including £25,000 from last year alone.

Plans are already underway for this year’s Soup Kitchen, and Mr Robins confirmed his intention to retain his lead role with the organising team “for the foreseeable future”.

King’s birthday honours. Leslie Norman was warded Member of the Order of theBritish Empire (MBE) for services to people with Learning Disabilities in the Jersey community. Picture: JON GUEGAN (38289879)

Leslie Norman MBE

In the 40-odd years that Leslie Norman has been involved in charitable work, there has been a sea change in attitudes towards those with learning difficulties.

Through his work for Les Amis and Acorn Enterprises, Mr Norman has championed increased independence for those who might previously have spent a lifetime in an institution.

When Mr Norman first responded to the overtures of his school contemporary, former States Member Paul Routier, there was support available for young people with learning difficulties but, as Mr Norman put it vividly, “they forgot that those people were going to grow up”.

As Les Amis grew, with its mission to empower clients to reach their full potential in life, opportunities for supported living which could scarcely have been imagined began to emerge with the charity acquiring a series of residential properties.

Sitting on the charity’s board because of his background in accountancy, Mr Norman was then persuaded to become the first chairman of Acorn Enterprises, which provides work and training opportunities for Islanders who have a disability or long-term health condition.

His brother, the late Len Norman, was then president of the States Social Security Committee.

In recent years, which included a period of more than a decade as chairman of Les Amis, it would not be unfair to characterise the relationship with the government as sometimes challenging.

At times, Mr Norman said, there was a lack of understanding of how to support those Islanders who were neither elderly nor sick but whose liberated potential meant they could live increasingly meaningful lives if the right mechanisms could be found to support them. This applied to securing financial support from other sources, too.

“That’s what has been a big challenge. It’s been a fight to get money.

It’s not like Hospice because it doesn’t have that kind of cachet, although the profile has been increased and more has been raised,” he said.

With such success, Mr Norman, who has been made an MBE, pays tribute to the work of the chief executives of Les Amis and Acorn – Shaun Findlay and Steve Pearce. “I’m really grateful [for the award] but I feel a bit guilty.

“The people who really do the work are the frontline staff.

“I’m a great believer in leading from the front and then letting people get on with it and that’s what they’ve done,” he said.

He acknowledges the achievements of his family, including his late brother and father, both former Constables of St Clement. “I’ll accept if for them,” he said.

King’s birthday honours. Rose Pallot received the Member of the Order of theBritish Empire (MBE)for service to communities throughMustard Seed Jersey. Picture: JON GUEGAN (38289615)

Rose Pallot MBE

Absent loved ones have been at the front of one Islander’s mind since she received news that she would be made an MBE in the birthday honours.

Recognised for service to communities through Mustard Seed Jersey, the charity she founded in 1998, Rose Pallot paid immediate tribute to two of those most closely involved over the years.

Having grown out of a home-spun aid initiative that began with asking friends to collect items in a shoebox for distribution in Romania, the Mustard Seed exports have grown to multiple lorry-loads and thousands of shoeboxes, including a recent focus on Ukraine since the 2022 invasion by Russia.

Describing the work of her husband Phil, who died in 2011, aged 80, she said: “His input really guided the charity.

“He had lived here during the Occupation and he understood what it was like to be hungry and to have holes in your shoes – I learned so much from him.”

Mrs Pallot’s father, Vernon Hélie, was another who worked closely with the charity over many years until his death in 2022, aged 96.

She said: “It’s been a real team effort, with a large number of people involved as volunteers – I couldn’t have done it on my own.

“I regret that neither Phil nor my father lived to see this – it would have been fitting if I could have shared it.”

Mrs Pallot said her work with Mustard Seed Jersey over the past 26 years had been underpinned by her strong faith.

“I always feel it’s what God wanted – he has given me the trust, and I want to carry on doing whatever I can,” she said.

Success in growing the charity was attributed by Mrs Pallot to the ethos about aid from a small Island like Jersey being targeted towards a small community in Romania, with the aid turning into something significant in the same way as a mustard seed in the biblical parable.

“We work in partnership with a small trust in Romania who know the individuals who receive the aid from Jersey,” she said.

“People who are donating to charities want to know where their money, or gifts, are going and that they are making a real difference.”

The charity’s Romanian partners suggested the change of focus after Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022.

“They came to us and said the need in Ukraine was greater, so the change happened with their blessing,” she said.

A total of 1,500 shoeboxes were sent directly to Ukraine last year, while a further 2,150 boxes went to Romania, with some of the latter consignment going to refugees from the conflict in Ukraine.

The work has continued during 2024, with the latest consignment being loaded onto a lorry at Mustard Seed HQ this week.

King’s birthday honours. Ronald Perchard awarded British Empire Medal(BEM) for service to the Jersey SeaCadet Corps. Picture: JON GUEGAN (38289985)

Ron Perchard BEM

It is hardly surprising that, walking down King Street, Ron Perchard has often been greeted by people whose names he struggles to remember for he has been training generations of Jersey’s young people in the skills of the sea for almost 57 years.

“I don’t know how many there have been over the years. It must be thousands – I really couldn’t estimate it,” Mr Perchard said. “Many say that they never realised how much they enjoyed their time in the Sea Cadets until after they had left,” he added.

A merchant seaman by profession, Mr Perchard was first introduced to the Jersey Sea Cadets by a friend in October 1967, simply thinking he would go along to find out what it was all about. He is still involved today, passing on “all things to do with boats” from mastering the art of the sailor’s knots to safety at sea on different craft.

“Over the years, I’ve taken many cadets away to various navy and army establishments. It’s given me another life and I’ve really enjoyed the discipline,” he said.

It is fitting that the award of the British Empire Medal should come in the King’s Birthday Honours for Mr Perchard has had the honour of meeting a number of members of the Royal Family over the years.

During visits to Jersey, he met the late Queen Elizabeth II at Howard Davis Park, and the Princess Royal. While on a visit to Arromanches to provide a guard of honour for a D-Day commemoration in 2009, the then Prince Charles came across to speak to him.

Those ceremonial duties have provided particular pleasure over the years, but one in particular has come to hold great significance. Each Liberation Day, Mr Perchard joins colleague Trevor Rayson to make his way across Liberation Square through the crowds and into the former harbourmaster’s office to fly the flags recreating the first moments of the Island’s freedom from German Occupation on 9 May 1945. It is a moment he has relished for the past two decades.

Mr Perchard described his award as “unbelievable”, the telephone call from the Lieutenant-Governor coming as a complete surprise. “I know his voice so I knew it was the genuine article. It was totally unexpected,” he said.

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