THE former leader of Wokingham Borough Council has been awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.
Cllr Keith Baker, who is currently the leader of Woodley Town Council and still serving as borough councillor for Coronation ward, told The Wokingham Paper that he didn’t even tell his family ahead of the announcement.
He added: “I’m extremely honoured and very, very humbled, particularly when I look at the other recipients. There are some amazing people on that list. I look at them and think, ‘Why am I on that list?’ I am incredibly honoured.”
The MBE was awarded to him for his services to the community and politics – but Cllr Baker doesn’t know who put him forward for this recognition.
“The process is very complicated,” he explained. “One person nominates you and then two other people recommend they said. It’s not just a few paragraphs, it’s quite extensive.
“It appears you never get to see who nominated you or what they put down.”
And Cllr Baker said that he didn’t get into politics to receive such as award, instead he has only ever wanted to serve residents.
“It has been a sense of duty, not for the honour,” he said.
He was sent a letter in advance of his citation being made public, and keeping the news quiet has been “incredibly difficult”.
“You get the letter and you want to climb the tallest building and shout from the rooftops. It’s amazing honour.
“I decided not to tell my family – my wife knew. We have a family WhatsApp group, some of our family are in New York, and I was able to tell them at 10.30pm [on Friday, June 7]. They were all ecstatic.”
Cllr Baker was one of 1,073 people who received an award in this year’s honours list.
Other local recipients include Professor Hannah Cloke, from the University of Reading’s Department of Geography and Environmental Science and Department of Meteorology. She received the OBE for services to Flood Forecasting and the Development of Hazard Early Warning Systems.
Her work includes advising the UK government on national and international flooding incidents, such as the 2013/2014 winter floods in the UK.
Professor Cloke said: “I am deeply honoured and incredibly proud to be recognised by Her Majesty The Queen. I work as part of a fantastic team of researchers and collaborators who really are dedicated to ensuring we can use the best science to keep people safe from flooding.
“We’ve made great strides in predicting where floods will hit, how bad they will be and when they will happen. This information allows civil protection authorities and humanitarian agencies to make better decisions and take action to prepare before floods even happen, meaning many more lives can be saved.”
Jan Cooper, the co-founder of Berkshire Women’s Aid, received an MBE for services to Women’s Refuge and those affected by Domestic Violence.
In a statement, she said: “I was absolutely surprised and very proud when I received the award. I’m happy to accept it on behalf of Berkshire Women’s Aid and all the women and children who have received refuge from our house over the years.”
Dr John Grainger, from Reading, is the chair of Microbiology in Schools Advisory Committee and received an MBE for services to Microbiology.
And Martin Trepte, the former editor of our neighbouring newspaper the Maidenhead Advertiser, received an MBE for services to the newspaper industry and to charity.