A SPECIAL reception was recently held at County Hall to celebrate a Ponteland man’s Royal honour.
Stan Cooke was awarded an MBE at Buckingham Palace earlier this month. It was given for his considerable contribution to services for carers and people with learning disabilities in Northumberland.
“I received this award from Prince Charles and this was on behalf of everyone who has made a difference to the support for carers,” said Stan, whose family also attended the ceremony.
“It was a really overwhelming and humbling experience to receive such a great honour.”
Mr Cooke took on a voluntary role which has helped lead the way in transforming what used to be a fragmented approach to carer support in the county into a single countywide dedicated service, known as Carers Northumberland.
Northumberland County Coun Ian Lindley, Executive Member for Health and Wellbeing at Northumberland County Council, said: “Carers are the lifeblood of our county and are unpaid, irrespective of the hours of care they provide, and often put other people’s well-being before their own.
“I am pleased to see Stan, who has expertly led the way to ensure our carers get the right support and are able to influence services, receive the recognition he so rightly deserves.
“Stan has a passion and vision which is shared within the council to improve the quality of life for people with disabilities, as well as anyone who looks after them. He has achieved so much to be proud of and together I am sure we can achieve much more.”
Mr Cooke retired from industry to support his wife in the care of his son, 26-year-old James, who is autistic and has learning disabilities.
In 2005, he became chairman of a carers’ steering group where he was able to bring not only his personal experience as a parent carer but also his considerable understanding of issues affecting other carers.
His approach to change, strong communication and interpersonal skills have been instrumental in bringing carers together in a common cause.
Under his leadership, a virtual carers’ centre project has also been created to ensure support services are more widely accessible within rural areas of Northumberland.
County council Chairman George Todd, who presented Mr Cooke with a gift, said: “I would like to congratulate Stan on this achievement. He is an inspiration and big advocate for the needs of carers.
“I know that he is well respected and we appreciate his hard work, which has mainly been given in his own time.”
If you are looking after anyone with an illness or disability and would like information on the support available, visit www.carer snorthumberland.org.uk
A carer is a person of any age who takes responsibility to look after a family member, friend or neighbour when they are unable to manage without help.