Eastbourne man receives MBE: It’s ‘an honour beyond compare’

A previous chairperson of Eastbourne’s Access Group has received an MBE for his services to disabled people.

Ian and Clare Westgate at Windsor Castle SUS-210212-153925001
Ian and Clare Westgate at Windsor Castle SUS-210212-153925001

Ian Westgate, who lives in the Langney area, started off as a volunteer for the Access Group and ended up being chairperson from 2005–2019.

He said he wanted to help improve the lives of people with disabilities in Eastbourne, develop a website and social media presence for the group, and generally raise the profile of the group within the community to promote disability awareness.

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On November 23 Ian and his wife Clare attended Windsor Castle to receive the MBE from the Princess Royal. Ian first heard about the MBE in October last year when he was emailed by the cabinet office notifying him he’d been put forward for the MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Ian said, “What a wonderful day.

“The grandeur of the castle’s state rooms is beyond compare with portraits of monarchs past and present adorning the walls everywhere. A guard of honour lined the staircase leading to the room where the Princess Royal presented awards to over 70 recipients taking the time to greet everyone with a congratulation and brief exchange of comment about the nature of the award.

“To meet the Princess Royal is an honour in itself and to receive an MBE is an honour beyond compare.

“I am immensely proud to receive the MBE for services to disabled people in Eastbourne and regard it as recognition of work done, and is still being done, by members of the Eastbourne Access Group in giving a voice to disabled people and of which I was privileged to be chair for 15 very rewarding years.

“The whole ceremony ran like a well-oiled machine with expert guidance at every stage with nothing left to chance. Security was strict but discreet with nerves being calmed by members of the household mingling and chatting freely to the recipients as they waited for their moment in the spotlight.

“A grand day out and a memory to treasure. November 23 2021 will stay with me forever”.

Brian Day and Ray Blakebrough, chair and deputy chair for Eastbourne Access Group, said, “This well-deserved award to Ian recognises the hard work and effort Ian and Clare have done to support disabled people over many years in Eastbourne.

“Without their commitment the Access Group would not be in its 41st year of existence. Ian and Clare see the Eastbourne Guide for Disabled People as a living legacy of their work.”