A PENSIONER who has dedicated more than 35 years to community life has spoken of his pride at receiving a rare Royal honour.
John Darwin Johnson – known as Jack – was presented with a British Empire Medal (BEM) by the Lord Lieutenant of County Durham, Sue Snowdon, the Queen’s local representative.
The presentation was given a unique setting and was held around a bonfire in a field in the 82-year-old’s village of Castle Eden, attended by around 80 people.
Jack said: “It was a wonderful night. All the community who I have supported throughout the years all turned up.”
The father-of-one and grandad-of-three has been a warden, and later a verger, for the village’s St James’ Church for the past 35 years, organising events to raise money for the parish and securing, opening and closing the church for services and ceremonies.
Jack, who was Castle Eden Golf Club captain in 1978, also sells poppies around the village for the Poppy Appeal and usually raises £400 each year.
He also makes visits to two elderly women at least twice a day to keep them company and to check if they need any help.
The ex-area manager for the former Nimmos brewery also finds time to organise village bonfire parties each year in October and more recently last New Year’s Eve.
Jack, who has lived in Castle Eden for 55 years and is married to Ann, said: “It was very emotional. I don’t know why I should get it, I have just done what I have had to do.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed it, and didn’t look for getting a medal.
“I’d like to thank everyone for all their support over the years.”