New Year’s Honours: Prolific volunteer Anne Abel receives BEM for services to first aid training in Harlesden – and beyond

Anne Abel BEM. PIcture: Fr David Ackerman

Anne Abel BEM. PIcture: Fr David Ackerman - Credit: Archant

When Anne Abel picked up a letter from the government’s Cabinet Office she believed she was in trouble for something.

Kilburn's Anne Abel BEM awarded in Queen's New Year's Honours 2019. PIcture: Fr David Ackerrman

Kilburn's Anne Abel BEM awarded in Queen's New Year's Honours 2019. PIcture: Fr David Ackerrman - Credit: Archant

But it was a missive on behalf of the Queen telling her she was being awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) in the New Year’s Honours List 2019 for voluntary services to first aid training.

The 67-year-old, who lives in Kilburn Park Road, started volunteering for the St John Ambulance more than 30 years ago and is now superintendent of the Harlesden unit.

For decades she has delivered first aid training to cadets and adults of all faiths and backgrounds and helped build the unit from scratch into an efficient, cohesive and happy one.

What’s more, she’s also a voluntary trustee of St John’s Guild, supporting people with sensory problems, and is a registered pastoral assistant at St John’s Church in Kensal Green.

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She said: “I was quite shocked to receive the letter. I couldn’t believe I was getting a letter from the Cabinet Office – I thought I was doing something wrong. I had to read it a couple of times.”

She added: “It’s a real honour to have it. I said to my friends that I’m sure there are people out there that need it more than I do.”

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Anne’s three brothers were born deaf and today she cares for two of them who also have learning disabilities.

“The hearing world means so much to me,” she said. “I was at home over Christmas and it was quite hard. It was my choice to be in and we had a good time mucking about indoors but I need to be in the hearing world sometimes.”

She added: “If a deaf child wanted to join the St John’s cadets, I would take them in my division.”

Fr David Ackerman, vicar of St John’s, said he was “thrilled” by Anne’s honour.

He added: “Anne has worked for many years for three organisations dedicated to St John. St John’s Ambulance, the St John’s Guild for the blind, and St John’s Church.

“At the church she is pastoral assistant and served for nearly 30 years as churchwarden. Her latest role is helping lead our new play group.

“This is a richly deserved honour and we are all so proud of her.”

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