Barbara Elborn, BEM

I had no idea so many people and organisations who the community has worked with over the years had sent in citations for my nomination to receive a British Empire Medal as part of the New Year Honours.  When the Cabinet office rang to confirm my nomination, the secretary read out a long list of supporters and it covered loads of things that this community has done over recent years, some things I played a role in, others I was just a fundraiser or a campaigner.

I was driving at the time and listened in stunned silence.  I was speechless, and she probably thought I was quite rude or unimpressed, far from it – I was humbled, very emotional and did not know how to respond.

I was amazed at just how many people had supported this nomination and I realised that being awarded a British Empire Medal was a HUGE thing. I have had a few weeks knowing the announcement was coming but it hasn’t been easy to prepare for this.  It’s not something that happens every day, it doesn’t come with guidelines as to what to do next – actually, I think it’s easier to fill in a grant application than to get one’s thoughts in order! The response has been overwhelming and is taking some time to sink in now its out there.

I come from a generation of selfless people, people who fought for us to live in the world we know today.  They had so little in terms of material things compared to what we have now, but the values they believed in are still relevant; fight for what you believe in, respect others, and work collectively to get the job done – as my old boss used to say, ‘there is no ‘i’ in TEAM’.

That is what we do as a community, we fight for what we believe in, we respect others and we work as a team to get the job done.  Many of us in this community do it every day; our 1st Responders, our volunteer drivers operating the Welfare Car Scheme, the carers who spend time having a cuppa with someone when they should be charging off to their next patient, the fundraising that happens at every coffee morning. The listening ears who spend time with others who need support.  I am not very good at all those things, others are much more patient and have much better people skills than me, but I do have a reputation for being passionate about what I believe in – and I believe in Copshaw.

Copshaw folk all love where we live, it’s truly exceptional because of its people – they have the biggest hearts and are the most generous people you could hope to know.  I am very proud and honoured to represent the village at events and when we are campaigning for something, but I am just one of several people on the front line, there is an army behind us.

Thank you to all who nominated me, I am humbled and very grateful, I accept the award on behalf of the huge army of local volunteers and voluntary organisations that work here, without whom the many projects we have running would not see the light of day.

2018 has been a huge year for us; Newcastleton celebrated its 225th anniversary, it was the opening of our 1st community business – the unmanned community fuel pumps.  There was a week of emotional Centenary Commemorations acknowledging the 79 local men who gave their lives for us in the Great War. It ended with huge community support and endorsement to move forward into 2019 with a long list of ‘things to do’.

It will take time to complete the list but if we don’t start, we will never finish!   And may the support that has got us this far continue until we see the Railway return – now that is a battle a really need to win!

Happy New Year everyone and thank you all for your continued support, we couldn’t do it without you.