Budleigh celebrates MBE joy

Two men are flying the flag for Budleigh Salterton and East Devon after being awarded MBEs by the Queen.

Charity stalwart Geoff Paver, 69, of Clinton Close, has been appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire for his charity work and tireless dedication to Budleigh.

John Wilding, head of forestry and environmental economy at Clinton Devon Estates, was also honoured with an MBE for his work towards the environment, education, sport, the arts and improving communities.

Lions Club member Mr Paver said his award was the ‘icing on the cake’ and thanked his wife, Heather, 65, for her support.

He said: “I am still on cloud nine. I never thought this day would come. Hopefully, it’s done Budleigh Salterton proud.

“I do what I do because there is always somebody worse off than yourself who needs help.”

John Wilding, of Woodbury, is responsible for the day-to-day management of Clinton Devon Estates’ 1,900 hectares of woodland in East and North Devon and has been working for the land owner for more than 14 years.

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He has helped manage projects to enable a wide range of habitats for many plant and animal species to thrive, such as the nightjar.

Mr Wilding said: “I’m thrilled to receive this accolade.

“It’s often thought that the countryside looks after itself, so it’s fantastic to be recognised for the work I’m doing in terms of land management and forestry, in particular.”

Scores of Budleigh residents were instrumental in securing Mr Paver’s award, highlighting his selfless charity work and fundraising.

Six weeks ago, he received a letter from Prime Minister David Cameron, revealing his name was on the list to go before the Queen.

Mr Paver, who, in 2010, was presented with the internationally-acclaimed ‘Holy Grail’ Lion Club honour, the Melvin Jones Fellowship Award, said his MBE was the ‘cr�me-de-la-cr�me’ of accolades.

“I am slowly coming back down to earth,” he said.

Mike Smith, chairman of Alliance Healthcare, who helped secure Mr Paver’s nomination, said: “I am absolutely amazed with what Geoff has achieved. It goes on and on and I am very proud of him.”

“I am absolutely delighted for him. The guy’s got a heart of gold. He’s got so much energy.

“I have always been very impressed with his industry and what he’s done for charity.”