I am absolutely overwhelmed and humbled to receive an MBE for services to the St Helens Community during COVID 19.
It has been an extremely difficult time for everyone during this pandemic.
This award is dedicated to my beautiful caring mother Val Blondel who sadly left us in January due to COVID. My mum like most was taken far too early.
To be recognised by the Queen in this manner is phenomenal and has not completely sunk in. I am feeling uncomfortable at receiving all the plaudits and would much rather be in the background pushing more inspirational people forward into the spotlight.
This MBE is for everyone who contributed and supported The Eccleston Arms Essential Items project, none more so than the proprietor Andrew Mikhail, the owner of the Mikhail Group. Andrew fully backed my vision and made the improbable possible within hours. Andrew has also had a long battle against COVID and I so pleased that he has come through the other side with a long recovery ahead. I want to share this award with Andrew, he is an exceptional person along with his great team at Mikhail Group.
I am truly blessed to have great support from the Trustees and committee of The Steve Prescott Foundation. Without their continued support, we could not help those less fortunate than ourselves and keep the great man's name and legacy alive. I am sure Steve Prescott MBE would be elated at me receiving this honour. I am totally indebted to him for teaching me so much about life and how you overcome adversity.
Blackbrook Rugby Club, (special mention to Craig Lyon) were "absolutely incredible" and provided a whole host of volunteer drivers who delivered Essential Items to the elderly and vulnerable at all hours of the day along with SPF Ambassadors Tommy Martyn, Lee Briers, Martin Murray, Paul Sculthorpe and the legend and Pride of St Helens Johnny Vegas who went over and above the call of duty. I will never forget the moment when JV sent the Russell Crowe video. I must admit I cried when I first watched it. I knew this would give the Essential Items appeal the press coverage to keep as many people as possible home and safe. I truly believe our actions saved lives.
Finally, I would like to thank my beautiful wife Karen, my precious daughter Sarah and all my family who have had to put up with me since the loss of my mum. As with the SPF, I am truly blessed to have a great family. It is always difficult to balance the work/life commitments and during the Eccleston Arms Essential Items project I admit there was little time for my family, but they were as ever fully supportive. I know this honour means so much to them.
Thanks once again to everyone who made this happen.