Wakefield’s community champions in New Years Honours list

June Cliffe has been awarded an MBE.
June Cliffe has been awarded an MBE.

COMMUNITY champions, businessmen and a doctor have been recognised in the New Years Honours list.

June Cliffe, a parish councillor and community volunteer in Sharlston, and Oliver Fenton, a consultant plastic surgeon at Pinderfields Hospital, were given MBEs for their service to the community.

Founder of Parkway Cinemas Gerald Parkes, who started his career in Wakefield, also got an MBE.

Mrs Cliffe, of Clifton Road, Sharlston Common, is a member of Wakefield Council and Sharlston Parish Council.

She moved to the village in 1956 after marrying her husband Jack, and made her first impact on the community by starting a Guides unit in 1957.

Mrs Cliffe, who also formed Sharlston Luncheon Club with a friend, said: “I’ve tried to help in everything, in any way I can. I absolutely love the people of Sharlston, and I feel that this award belongs to them because if they hadn’t been behind me all the way I would not have received it.

“I’ll keep doing what I’m doing because I’m one of those people who can’t keep still. It’s lovely to be recognised, a super feeling.”

Mr Parkes, who was born in East Ardsley, started working as a projectionist the ABC Regal cinema, on Kirkgate, in 1960.

His business is still one of the most successful in the country for running independent cinemas such as the Parkway in Barnsley.

Mr Parkes, 68, said he used to build projectors in his loft when he was living in the St John’s area as a teenager.

He said: “Cinema was something I had always loved.

“I had huge pleasure helping to bring ABC back to the glorious state it was when it first opened in 1935. It was a beautiful example of late Art Deco cinema styling and I really enjoyed working there.

“I said ‘we need to put some live shows on’ and before I knew what was happening we had Helen Shapiro and The Beatles.

“The MBE has come as a surprise but it’s great. I’ve loved the business all my life, and I still think the cinema industry has enriched the lives of millions.”

Christopher Wilby, who spent four and a half years working for Wakefield’s YMCA, received a British Empire Medal (BEM) for his contribution to the local area.

Mr Wilby, 68, grew up in Ossett and as a teenager he made community radio shows for residents of old people’s homes.

In order to harness the project he started using studio space at the YMCA, and he later became assistant general secretary of the branch.

Mr Wilby, who is currently executive director of the Scarborough YMCA, said: “We went to old people’s homes where people couldn’t get out, and spoke to them about where they used to go and walk, and people they used to know. We’d go out and film interviews with people and then took it back into the homes and screened the films there. They couldn’t get to the community, so we took it to them.

“I’m absolutely delighted, you never expect to be recognised like this. I’ve worked very long hours but it’s not something I’ve really looked upon as a job. I’ve met thousands of great people.”

Capt Nick Wilson, of the 3rd Battalion Yorkshire Regiment, was awarded an MBE. The regiment were granted Freedom of the City by Wakefield Council in 2010.

Other winners of the BEM included Patricia Hampshire, for services to Emley Moor Riding for the Disabled and Ann Lesley Priestman, for services to the community in Shelley.