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Uppingham grandmother 'humbled' to receive British Empire Medal for services to community during coronavirus pandemic as six are named in Queen's birthday honours

A grandmother from Uppingham is to receive a British Empire Medal for her services to the community during the coronavirus pandemic.

Margaret Simpson, 74, has worked with a host of voluntary organisations to ensure elderly and vulnerable people have not been forgotten during the crisis.

She is one of six named locally in the Queen's birthday honours list released today (Saturday, October 9).

Margaret Simpson
Margaret Simpson

Margaret's husband Ron already has a BEM for services to neighbourhood planning.

She said: “It must be quite rare for a husband and wife to both have one! It was totally unexpected and very humbling.

“There are far more deserving people than me. I’m just a cog in a wheel really but it’s good that the volunteers are being recognised.”

A former primary school headteacher, Margaret has lived in Uppingham for around 25 years and wasted no time coordinating help and support for the community when the virus hit.

As administrator for the EJ Toon Trust, which supports every person over 80 in the town, she was aware of many vulnerable people needing help and reached out to many of them.

In conjunction with the UppWatch community help service, for which she is the joint-lead organiser, she coordinates volunteers to deliver support. This could be anything from grocery shopping and collecting prescriptions to transport to Uppingham Surgery or home repairs.

All of this is overseen by the Uppingham Community Emergency Plan Covid-19 response team, for which she leads the control room operation.

“I’ve always been a bit bossy so I’m the best person for the job!” she joked.

She has also ensured the Uppingham Hopper is operational and compliant with Covid regulations.

And she volunteered as the lead shopper with the new UppShop programme to help teach older residents about online ordering and making electronic payments.

Furthermore, she played a fundamental role from mid-2005 in the establishment of the Uppingham Rotary Club and was the founding secretary. Elected their president in 2014, she continues to inspire a strong female cohort.

As if all this wasn’t enough, Margaret is heavily involved in the installation of defibrillator machines in the town which has reached its target to have no resident more than 500 metres from one of the life-saving machines.

“It all keeps me busy and happy,” said the grandmother-of-two. “I wouldn’t want to get bored!”

She added: “It really is a fabulous community here.”

Margaret said she hadn’t yet found out who nominated her for the BEM.

“Heads will roll when I find out!” she joked. “I’m just pleased that the people who do such good work are being recognised.”

She will collect her medal at a special service but a date has not yet been set, due to the ongoing pandemic.

The others named locally in the list are:

  • Ramesh Arasaradnam, of Ketton - OBE for services to the NHS during Covid
  • Elizabeth Mills, of Ashwell - MBE for services to the community in Oakham
  • Helen Pollard, of Stamford - MBE for services to physics education
  • Alan Scott, of Stamford - MBE for services to scouting and the community in Stamford
  • Trish Ruddle, of Langham - BEM for services to the community in Oakham

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