HAVING spent his working life seeing first-hand the devastating impact of mental health problems, NHS worker Colin Godfrey felt he had to act.

What the mental health nurse knew invigorated people and boosted their sense of self-esteem was physical activity.

So in 1995 he launched Oxford Coasters, which involves people with mental health problems in exhilarating outings, from 200-mile hikes to rock climbing.

Now the 59-year-old Bicester resident has been honoured with an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Speaking for the first time since receiving the honour, he said: “I was very surprised when I heard the news.

“On a personal level I am overwhelmed to have received this nomination, but hope that this is a reflection of the challenges faced and undertaken by those experiencing the negative effects of mental illness.

“It is a privilege to have worked with such people and an honour for the work to be acknowledged.”

Mr Godfrey, an activities development nurse at Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, organised a seven-day walk along The Ridgeway from Buckinghamshire through Oxfordshire to Wiltshire last month. And in September, a group will set off on a 200-mile coast-to-coast walk, from St Bee’s in Cumbria to Robin Hood’s Bay in Yorkshire.

Organisers say the scheme not only improves participants’ health but helps them interact with others.

Mr Godfrey said: “It is not only the beneficial effects of physical activity, but those of participating in positive, dynamic action as part of a cohesive group that helps people with mental illness on their journey to recovery.

“Coasters has members who are service users receiving care and treatment, or staff and volunteers working together to provide a positive challenge on both a personal level and to help reduce stigma and discrimination that can often be found in mental health.”

RETIRED pharmacist Ian Simpson was awarded an MBE.

The 66-year-old, from Old Marston, Oxford, was handed the honour for his services to the College of Pharmacy Practice and the Guild of Healthcare Pharmacists.

Mr Simpson was chief executive of the college for eight years until his retirement last year and works as company secretary on a voluntary basis.

He was previously professional secretary of the guild, a part-time post which he combined with his role as pharmaceutical adviser to Oxfordshire Health Authority.

Mr Simpson’s other roles include working as a pharmacist in the NHS in Oxfordshire from 1975 to 2001.

He also served as secretary to Oxfordshire Local Pharmaceutical Committee and was chairman of the Oxfordshire Branch and the Chiltern Region of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society.

He was designated a Fellow of the Society in 1997.

Mr Simpson said: “I am very honoured and absolutely delighted to have been recognised.

“I am also very pleased that it was my colleagues and peers who put me forward for the honour.”

Mr Simpson and his wife, Margaret, a retired teacher, have lived in Old Marston since 1975.

They are both active in the life of Marston United Reformed Church and have two sons and four grandchildren.