EIGHTY-year-old June Keep was awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) in recognition of her charity work – including founding a charity shop.

But after 35 years and raising £120,000 for kidney patients, Mrs Kemp is closing down her small shop in Wantage against her will, blaming the arrival of discount stores and tough times for consumers for “poor” trading in recent years.

The great-grandmother said: “I would have gone on a bit longer but it’s really bad now.

“It’s very sad but it’s just got to be done.”

Mrs Keep has lived in Wantage since moving from her birthplace in nearby Letcombe aged four.

Her last sale will be at the end of August.

Mrs Keep, who turns 81 next month, opened June’s Oxford Kidney Shop, with help from volunteers, after her late husband, Malcolm, developed kidney disease and for which he had two transplants.

She said: “I started doing it to repay the hospital for treating him.”

Over the years she has given £106,000 to the Kidney Unit at the Churchill Hospital in Oxford, from the sale of household items at the shop, and has another £14,000 in the bank to donate.

It all started with a £100 loan from her daughter, Olwen, who lives in Challow and works as an auxiliary nurse.

Married and a mother at 18, Mrs Keep has six children, five of whom live near Wantage and the sixth in Oxford. She also has eight grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

She was “shocked” when told of the BEM. “I’m really excited. It’s like the icing on the cake, really.”

She thanked all of the shop’s volunteers over the years.


SONNY Leong has been awarded the CBE for political service.

Mr Leong, 60, from Chilton, near Didcot, is chairman of Chinese for Labour, a society affiliated to the Labour Party, and has been a Labour supporter for 20 years.

The publisher used to run Cavendish Publishing in London until the company was sold to Routledge, Taylor and Francis, based at Milton Park near Didcot.

Oxford Mail:

Mr Leong, above, who lives with wife Gita and daughter Sonya, eight, said he is trying to encourage members of the Chinese community to take up public positions.

He added: “We don’t have enough Chinese in public service.”


CAROLE Chalton only accepted her British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to older people on the grounds she could share it with her staff.

Mrs Chalton managed Abingdon Alzheimer’s Club for 25 years.

Under her stewardship, the club went from a two-day a week drop-in for 12 people to a five-day service with 75 members.

When she retired three years ago, the mum-of-two refused to get involved with any press coverage.

Mrs Chalton, 67, said: “I never think I do anything on my own, it is me and the staff, I couldn’t do anything without them.

“I have said I will accept it on the grounds it was for me and my staff. They really were a super team and I want them to be acknowledged.”


JOHN Simpson, former chief editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, received an OBE for services to literature.

Mr Simpson, 60, joined the Oxford English Dictionary staff in 1976 and became chief editor in 1993.

About 60,000 new words were added between 1993 and when he retired from his post at Oxford University Press in October.

Oxford Mail:

Mr Simpson, above, was the seventh OED editor since Sir James Murray’s appointment in 1879.
He said: “I’m delighted to get this award – it’s recognition for the Oxford English Dictionary and all the staff who work there

“I still do consultancy work on the dictionary and enjoy adding discoveries that people have made from the 16th and 17th centuries.”

Mr Simpson lives with wife Hilary, 58, a former adviser to the county council’s chief executive.
The couple have two daughters, Kate, 32, and Eleanor, 24.


PROFESSOR Colin Blakemore has been awarded a Knighthood for services to scientific research, policy and outreach.

The 70-year-old is Professor of Neuroscience and Philosophy at the University of London and Emeritus Professor of Neuroscience at Oxford University.

Oxford Mail:

Father-of-three Prof Blakemore, above, who lives in Oxford with wife Andree, said: “Life has its ups and downs – this is definitely an up.

“Being a scientist is a delight, but also a privilege. Scientists must be prepared to engage in debate and dialogue, even on challenging issues, if we are to maintain the trust of society and government support.

“I’m especially pleased that this honour has recognised my efforts to contribute to the dialogue between science and society.”


FIREFIGHTER and station manager Gary Mattingley will be given a British Empire Medal for services to protecting communities from flooding after coming up with two new systems to deal with flood water in February.

The 46-year-old suggested using a binding hose that acted as a barrier
to stop water flooding onto the Botley Road.

His idea of using a high volume pump also managed to clear the Abingdon Road of flood water. It is now known as the ‘Oxford Method’.

Oxford Mail:

The Bicester resident, above, said: "I was absolutely shocked and overwhelmed when I found out about the award.

"I came up with the idea but it was my Fire and Rescue Service colleagues who implemented it.”


JANICE Markey will be awarded the British Empire Medal for services to the community in her home village of Harwell.

The 56-year-old has lived in the village for her whole life and has set up dozens of organisations, including the youth club, the village hall committee and the Harwell Feast.

Oxford Mail:

A teaching assistant at Long Furlong Primary School, Abingdon, Miss Markey, above, said: “It just gives me a lot of enjoyment to volunteer. The village are like my family

“I’m thrilled, I do feel pretty proud. It’s just something that developed. I looked up to organisers of activities and eventually that transferred to me.”


PROFESSOR Lesley Page, from Jericho, becomes a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for services to midwifery.

She is the president of the Royal College of Midwives, was the first professor of midwifery in the UK and helped the Government create a report that put mothers at the centre of midwifery care for the first time.

She said: “The birth of the baby is the birth of the mother. A midwife can make a crucial difference to the health of the family. I can’t imagine anything that’s more satisfying.”

Oxford Mail:

The 70-year-old, above, added: “I’m incredibly touched that it’s for midwifery, because that’s what I feel so passionate about.”


GROUP Captain Victoria Gosling MBE, based at RAF Benson near Wallingford, has been appointed an OBE for her commitment to the air base and to adaptive sports for the disabled or injured.

Oxford Mail:

The 42-year-old, above,  spent several years at RAF Benson as the Officer Commanding Base Support Wing — a role responsible for welfare and support issues for up to 4,000 service personnel and their families.

On hearing of her award, she said: “I am both thoroughly shocked and delighted to be awarded the OBE.

“I am passionate about my work and always strive to give my all to every project, so to receive this award in recognition of that is wonderful.”


TONY Betteridge, 74, has devoted his life to basketball.

President of Oxfordshire Basketball Association since its creation in 2011, he still referees up to 100 matches each year. His British Empire Medal (BEM) recognises his services to the sport.

Oxford Mail:

Mr Betteridge, above, who lives in Inkerman Close, Abingdon, said: “This is one of the most important days in my life.

“It is amazing they have given me anything for basketball.

“There aren’t many people who get honours each year and it’s good to see that the Government and the Royal family are actually noticing.”


  • David Snowdon, managing director of Henley-based Pristine Condition, has been awarded the MBE for services to health and safety at work and for charitable services in Oxfordshire.
  • Prof Polly Roy, Professor of Virology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, was awarded the OBE for services to virus research.
  • Prof John Pethica, Chief Scientific Adviser for the National Physical Laboratory, was also awarded a Knighthood for services to science.
  • Prof Richard Sorabji CBE received a Knighthood. He is an Honorary Fellow at Wolfson College and the Knighthood was for services to philosophical scholarship.
  • Prof Martin Biddle, OBE, Emeritus Fellow of Hertford College, Oxford has earned a CBE for services to archaeology.
  • Anne Kelaart, from South Moreton, near Didcot, was awarded an OBE for services to the rural community. As chairman of the Friends of Dorchester Abbey for six years she helped raise money to preserve the historic building.
  • Helen Elizabeth Stewart received a BEM for Thame neighbourhood planning.

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