A community champion hailed in the New Year’s Honours List has said he will accept his title in tribute to his late wife who helped him as he strived to improve his home village.
Billy Hill, a member of Horden Parish Council for around a decade, has been awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) for his “excellent” work for the people of Horden and surrounding area.
In addition to a host of projects to better the former pit village, he also helped a veteran of the conflict in Afghanistan who was left struggling to find a home and help after he returned home after suffering serious injuries.
The 69-year-old grandad-of-three has said he will collect his honour with his late wife Valerie in mind after he was nominated by 30 supporters. The 65-year-old died in October 2014.
Coun Hill said: “It’s just a pity my wife isn’t here to see what has been achieved, and me, a miner’s son getting this award.
“It’s down to her and I will accept my award with her in mind. She was sitting at the kitchen table when that soldier knocked on our door and we fought and fought to get what he needed, and we got him a two bedroom house, a room for him and one for the full-time carer he needed.
It’s just a pity my wife isn’t here to see what has been achieved, and me, a miner’s son getting this award.Councillor Billy Hill
“He was Horden born and bred who had given himself to the forces.”
Coun Hill has previously been awarded the Durham County Council Chairman’s Medal in 2008, a certificate of Outstanding Voluntary Effort from the East Durham Area Action Partnership and was recognised in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 2012.
He has also been praised for his crime prevention efforts after seeking funding from the Accent Foundation and East Durham Homes and as a governor’s award from Cotsford Infant School
Coun Hill is dad to Steven, 42, and Paula-Marie, 43, and grandfather to Steve’s son Lewis, 20, and Paula-Marie’s children Sophie-Marie, 21, and Aimee, 14.