THE founding member of a charity group, well known for sitting outdoors in all weathers with his collection tins, has received a BEM in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Ninety-two year-old Bruce Grant, who founded Ponteland Charity Group six years ago, was recognised after raising more than £80,000 for various charities.

He was joined in the honours list by Lesley Sim, the head of libraries, heritage and registration in West Sussex who starting her career in the Tyne Valley 40 years ago, and also was awarded the BEM. And, the chief fire officer at Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service, Paul Hedley, was awarded the Queen’s Fire Service Medal.

Mr Grant often collects for the Great North Air Ambulance Service outside Beales department store in Hexham, and has raised money for a variety of North-East charities.

He created the Ponteland Charity Group in 2013 and has served as secretary ever since.

He said: “It is a modest award as becomes my lowly position, but it gives me a great deal of satisfaction, and pleasure.

“I am well aware that some people spend a lifetime in charity, and of course, a great many with far greater achievements.

“Above all, I am only too aware that the modest success was totally dependent on kind-hearted supporters who repeatedly donated, and that includes some well-known companies and nationally known leaders.”

Mrs Sim, born and raised in Whitley Bay, started her career in libraries at Prudhoe in 1977 before moving to Hexham two years later. She then moved to Hampshire in 1983 and worked her way up to her current role in West Sussex.

“Northumberland gave me my grounding,” she said.

“I learned an awful lot there and my time there helped me get my next role, and I just went on from there.

“I really do believe in the power of libraries to change people’s lives and make a difference and this is fantastic to have this recognition of my hard work but also as a reminder to people that libraries are still thriving and do do still use them.”

Mr Hedley has served as chief fire officer in Northumberland since taking over the role from Alex Bennett in July 2016.

He started his career in the fire service at Cramlington and Blyth fire stations more than 30 years ago and worked in a variety of frontline and managerial roles.