BEM for flood action campaigner Alan

Morpeth Flood Action Group chairman Alan Bell with the petition launched by the Herald in 2012.
Morpeth Flood Action Group chairman Alan Bell with the petition launched by the Herald in 2012.

A Morpeth man who has worked tirelessly for fellow flood victims for the last decade has been recognised in the New Year Honours.

Alan Bell, chairman of the Morpeth Flood Action Group, received a British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to flood risk management in Morpeth.

He has been chairman of MFAG since it was formed in 2008, in response to the flooding which devastated homes and businesses in the town.

MFAG learned that the Environment Agency had started initial work on a flood alleviation scheme in 2007 with completion planned for 2013, but the plans had to be revised after the extent of the flooding was realised.

It looked in jeopardy when funding was withdrawn and MFAG started a furious letter writing campaign, involving school children and other residents, who were affected by the flood.

The Herald launched a petition to save the scheme, which was signed by almost 4,000 people.

In 2012, the then flood minister Richard Benyon visited Morpeth to announce the scheme would definitely go ahead.

MFAG was widely praised for its dogged determination to ensure the scheme became a reality.

It was fully completed in July 2017.

Mr Bell said: “It was a surprise to get this award.

“There has been a lot of hard work put in by each MFAG member and we have achieved a great deal over the 10 years, so it’s nice to have this recognition for everyone’s efforts.

“I’m looking forward to receiving the medal from the Duchess of Northumberland at a ceremony.”

Morpeth Mayor Jack Gebhard said: “Lots of people in Morpeth benefited from the work Alan did to mitigate the impact of the devastating floods of 2008.

“Hundreds of households would have been hit with extortionate bills every year through no fault of their own.

“Honours are there to recognise outstanding contributions, so Alan’s award is fully deserved.”

Local leaders in health and business are among those who also received New Year honours.

Jim Mackey, chief executive of Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, has been knighted in recognition of his services to healthcare.

Sue Pearce, CEO of Rape Crisis Tyneside and Northumberland, was made an MBE for her work with women who have experienced sexual violence.

John Lawlor, chief executive of Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust, receives an OBE for services to the NHS.

James Ramsbotham, chief executive of North East England Chamber of Commerce, received a CBE for services to business and to the economy in the North East.

Yvonne Ormston, chief executive of the North East Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust was made an MBE for services to healthcare in the North East.