THIS Queen's New Year's Honours List includes a number of local heroes from north Essex.

THE founder of a special needs nursery has been made an MBE in the New Year’s Honours list.

Carol Nice, who set up Stepping Stones Play and Learn Group in Colchester 25 years ago, said the honour, for services to children with special educational needs and disabilities, is surreal.

She hopes it will raise the profile of the charity.

Carol said: “It was only last night I received the confirmation. I was told to wait for the list to be released and if my name was on it, it meant I would get an MBE and it was.


“It’s a tremendous honour and it will raise the profile of the group which is brilliant.

“I’ll be going out with friends tonight, and tomorrow all the family are coming over for a party, so it’ll be lovely celebration.”

Carol started Stepping Stones with her sister, Chris Handley, and a friend, Donna McWilliams, in 1991.

She had trained as a nursery nurse and then undertook an advanced childcare course for children with learning difficulties.

As part of her studies she worked with families in Colchester who had children with special needs and the idea for the group was then born.

She said: “I set up Stepping Stones so families who had children with additional needs had the same opportunities to attend nursery as their peers, but it’s also about giving parents respite.

“The Wilson Marriage centre was opening as a community centre at the time and I went to see about renting rooms there.

“The concept of having children with severe needs was quite new then so there was a lot of doubt, but this was what parents needed and we always felt parents know their children best.

“We set up basing it on what parents were asking us for but there’s never been a set plan and I never thought about 25 years later.

“The job can be tough sometimes but the reward outweighs the challenges and it’s our parents and children who are the real motivators.”


A LONG-SERVING parish council chairman has been appointed an MBE for services to the community.

Brian Rolfe headed up Lawford Parish Council for more than 20 years, retiring from the role in 2011 but remaining a councillor.


Mr Rolfe, 80, of School Lane, Lawford was also instrumental in setting up Crossroads Tendring and Colchester and was chairman until a few months ago.

The charity gives carers respite by providing support workers, a day centre and trips out.

He has also been part of the Lawford Junior Football Club, a governor of Manningtree High School and part of the Market Towns Partnership.

He is secretary of the Stour Valley Men's Probus Club and chairman of the Beach Hut Users’ Association in Walton on the Naze.

He said: "I've had lots of congratulations.

"It's a very pleasing thing that people appreciate what you do.

"Over the years I've set out with an idea to improve organisations and when I leave them they are significantly better.

"The junior football club when I left was building itself into the large club it is today.

"Crossroads was the same. We had two support workers and now we employ 50 people and cover 30,000 care hours."

Born and brought up in Lawford, Mr Rolfe lives in a home built at the end of his mother's garden on a plot gifted to him as a wedding present.

During his working life he clocked 38 years at BX Plastics in Brantham, but he has always found time to be part of the community.

He said: "It's all voluntary but I enjoy it.

"The key is to make decisions and not to faff about it."


A PARATROOPER has been awarded the OBE for his army service.

Lt Col Mike Shervington was the commanding officer of Third Battalion, The Parachute Regiment, based at Merville Barracks at Colchester Garrison.


Lt Col Shervington took over command of 3 Para in September 2012 and has served in Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan.

During his two and a half years in command, which he completed in April, he had many highlights.

He said: “Commanding the batallion is the single biggest honour.

“Although we beat the 2 Para in the army boxing championships in my first six months which was historic.

“We then went to Kenya in 2013 for seven weeks, parachuting there for the first time in 10 years or so.

“The absolute highlight was going to North Carolina in March this year for two months, to join the 82nd airborne division of the US army.

“There were 2,000 people in the sky at once, it was pretty extraordinary.”
Lt Col Shervington, a keen marathon runner, is married to Elizabeth and they have a daughter, Eleanor.

He has taken part in a number of charity events to show his support for colleagues, including running the Halstead marathon to raise money for Captain Felix Wright’s daughter who was treated for leukaemia.


A HORSE riding instructor has been awarded a British Empire Medal for her services to equestrianism.

Mary Thornley, the district commissioner for the Essex and Suffolk Pony Club, lives in Great Oakley.

She said: “It's very exciting. I got a letter about it about a month ago, it was a real shock - it was very difficult not to tell anyone.

"I only told my family on Thursday and they were very proud."

Mrs Thornley said she was brought up around horses.

She said: "My father worked the land with horses so they are second nature to me. I've been around horses all my life and I enjoy every phase of it whether I'm course building, teaching or judging.

"I've been teaching since I was about 15 or 16 years old, it was the progression from a riding school.

"It is a dangerous game but it's so rewarding."


HOME Office worker David Blackiston, of Harwich, was made an MBE for services to major incident administration.


A FORMER Colchester United goalkeeper and police officer has been made an MBE for his services to counter terrorism while working for the Home Office.

Nathan Munson has also worked for Essex Police for nearly 20 years, most recently as a detective sergeant.


He works in the Home Office’s counter terrorism team, focussing on hazardous substanes.

The former Gilberd School pupil said: “I am truly humbled and incredibly proud to receive this honour.

“This award is the result of a great deal of hard work from a much broader group of people.

“I would particularly like to extend my thanks to Essex Police for their continued support, my friends and colleagues at the Home Office and most importantly my family for their understanding during the many short-notice duty changes and long periods spent away from home.”

Mr Munson played for Colchester United five times between 1992 and 1994 before embarking on a long non-league career taking him to Wivenhoe Town, Billericay Town, Stanway Rovers, Harwich and Parkeston, Brantham Athletic, Leiston, AFC Sudbury and Needham Market.