Former civil servant's 50-year dedication to Northamptonshire village rewarded with Queen's honour

Ray Henman pictured by the children's play park in Brafield-on-the-Green, which he helped campaign for back in the 1970s.
Ray Henman pictured by the children's play park in Brafield-on-the-Green, which he helped campaign for back in the 1970s.

A longstanding churchwarden, fundraiser, bellringer and green spaces campaigner has seen his years of work in a Northamptonshire village community recognised by the Queen.

Former civil servant Ray Henman has been named as a recipient of the British Empire Medal (BEM) in the New year Honours list after almost 50 years of dedicated service to life in Brafield-on-the-Green.

The grandfather of three was a founding member of the Brafield Playing Field Association in the 1970s, which aimed to install a green parcel of land for children to play on in the village.

Since then Ray, now aged 78, has been an active part of community life, serving as chair of the parish council for a spell and as a committee member for the Sargeant Memorial Hall in The Green for 30 years.

The skilled fundraiser still spends his time topping up the coffers for St Laurence’s Church while organising the June flower festival and the Christmas tree festival in December.

He is also the secretary for the Annual Horticultural Show that has been running in Brafield for over 30 years.

On receiving the BEM, he said: "It's an honour - I never expected it but you just get on and do these things."

Ray, a bellringer of 62 years, spent two decades at South Northants Council, working as the authority's senior environmental services officer before retiring.

But he says he is still driven by a will to serve the public and, every year, he even cooks a harvest supper for 40 people in his village

"I think people suggest I should do things because I'm good at doing them," he said.

"It's mainly because I want the village to be a real community.

"I think it is just something you accept you are going to do in life."