A village stalwart who has spent her life as a key cog in community life has been named in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list.
Ann Bell, 73, of High Street, Exton, has been given an MBE for services to her community.
She took part in her first village event, May Day, aged just 10, and has gone on to hold all sorts of roles, from village hall caretaker to street market organiser.
And there’s a simple reason why Ann and husband Mick continue to be a big part of Exton life. “We love the village,” she said.
Ann took on the role as village hall caretaker and bookings agent in the early 1960s. From the mid-1970s she took on extra responsibility as an officer on the management committee, and during that time she raised money to save the building.
“I took over the fundraising for the village hall in 1971 after we had a disaster with the roof,” said Ann. “We raised lots of money through all sorts of things.
“I have had assistance from quite a few of my friends from the village, who have been quite a considerable help.”
Ann spent more than half a century on Exton’s parochial church council and served as a governor of Exton and Greetham Primary School for almost as long. In the late 1960s she was at the forefront of a campaign to keep the school open.
Between 1982 and 2011 Ann and her husband organised one of Exton’s most memorable events in the highly successful street market. For 30 years it became a must-attend Rutland event, attracting roughly 10,000 visitors every May.
The fair raised about of £10,000 for the church, village hall, Rutland Lions and school every year.
Ann also founded the village WI, which later became the Ladies Circle, and she remains both an officer and a staunch supporter. She raises for a host of other charities and has organised a Macmillan coffee morning since 1998, donating about £500 each year. She helps organise the Christmas bazaar every year, raising money for school and church. And she also helped set up a scheme to give people over 65 in the village a gift every Christmas. This year the team gave vouchers to 56 people.
Ann intends to remain a big part of Exton life. She said: “When the weather is like this it can become a little bit of a chore, but I have no plans to slow down.”