Fantastic four honoured by Queen

Simon Rigby
Simon Rigby

A businessman, lifeboat stalwart, a pioneering nurse and a former student of Kirkham Grammar School who now works in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office have been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Entrepreneur Simon Rigby, from Wrea Green, has been awarded an MBE for services to industry in the north.

Martin Jaggs

Martin Jaggs

Also receiving an MBE is former Lytham St Annes Lifeboat coxswain and mechanic Martin Jaggs, now an RNLI operations manager, for services to maritime safety.

Lytham-born Fiona Murphy, assistant director of nursing for bereavement and donor support at Bolton hospital, who has dedicated her 30 year nursing career to care for dying patients and their families, has been awarded an MBE

And there’s an OBE for Gerald Eccles, who atended Kirkham Grammar and whose mother Mary, brother Michael and sister Angela still live in Lytham, where he was raised.

Mr Rigby said: “I got a letter about a month ago about the MBE and it was a real surprise. I wondered if one of my friends was winding me up but it was from the Cabinet Office.

Fiona Murphy, awarded the MBE

Fiona Murphy, awarded the MBE

“The thing that has really pleased me is that it is for services to industry in the north.

“That means it is a reflection on the two and a half thousand people who work for the group as much as anything else. I hope they take it as a compliment to them.

“We have a variety of businesses on the Fylde Coast and across Lancashire and are proud to be here so it is great
to be recognised for what we do.

“I am delighted. It is a great honour and I would like to thank all the employees and everyone who made this possible.”

Simon was one of six children, raised on a 34-acre dairy farm in Warton.

He attended Kirkham’s Carr Hill High School, St Annes College and Hull University. After graduating in 1983, he joined the Yorkshire Electricity Board as agGraduate trainee (much to his parents’ delight), with whom he qualified as a Certified Accountant in 1987.

In 1996, Simon led the management buyout of the buildings and grounds maintenance services from Yorkshire Electricity to form Spice. Spice started with 12 employees and one contract in 1996 and by 2008 it employed 4,500 staff worldwide and turned over £400m. Spice floated on the London Stock Exchange in 2004 and entered the FTSE 250 in 2008. Simon was CEO of Spice plc until 2010.

Simon now owns a range of businesses including The Villa Group, Greengen, the Safehands Group and property specialists R Group.

He has been married to Linda for 31 years and has a son Nicholas, 24, and daughter Victoria, 17.

Martin Jaggs, long-serving coxswain and mechanic at Lytham St Annes Lifeboat Station until earlier this year, paid tribute to his RNLI colleagues after being awarded the MBE.

“The award has my name on it and I am very proud, but I couldn’t have achieved it without the RNLI team, especially the Lytham St Annes crew – so it as much for them as it is for me,” he said.

Martin, 50, left the St Annes boathouse in January to take up a new regional role as division operations manager of the new England Central Division of the RNLI.

That sees him in overall charge of 11 lifeboat stations from Lytham to Barrow on the West Coast and from the Humber to Scarborough on the East.

But he still lives in Lytham with wife Sharon, who is treasurer of the local fund-raising branch of the RNLI and daughter Amy, who turns eight on Monday – and calls back at the local boathouse as often as he can.

“When Sharon saw the letter telling me of the award she thought I was being fined or summonsed,” smiled Martin.

“Amy is a big fan of the Queen and will be thrilled at the prospect of a presentation ceremony. It’s extra special to have been given the award in Her Majesty’s 90th birthday year.”

Martin joined the volunteer lifeboat crew at St Annes in 1988 and became second assistant mechanic four years later.

Gerald Eccles, a specialist in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, has been awarded the OBE for servuces to developing operational technology capabilitues - to the delight of his family members who still live in Lytham.

“We are very proud of Gerald,” said mum Mary.

Gerald, who went on to study in Middlesex after his time at Kirkham Grammar, lives in Surrey with wife Siobhan and their two daughters, Niamh and Tabitha.

His father Tom, a well-known Fylde artist, died last month and art is among Gerald’s spare time interests.

Fiona Murphy is the driving force behind the Royal Alliance Bereavement and Donor Service, a nurse-led project that has transformed the care of terminally ill patients across Lancashire.

Her special ‘bereavement teams’ provide support to patients and their families during the last hours of life and immediately after death, pulling out all the stops to make a dying patient’s wishes come true, including hosting birthday parties at the bedside and even arranging for pets to make a special visit to the hospital.

They also offer relatives the opportunity to have locks of hair or handprints of their loved ones.

Fiona, whose family still lives in Lytham, was awarded the MBE last week.

She said: “I am overwhelmed and delighted to receive this accolade for our services to nursing and bereavement care. I feel truly humbled.

“I’m proud of each and every healthcare professional who has played their part in breaking down some of the barriers in caring well for the dying and the dead.

“For me, this is testament that we are getting somewhere in getting it right for every patient every time.”

Professor Jennifer Leeming, HM senior coroner for the district of Manchester West, said: “I’m absolutely delighted that Fiona has been awarded this honour, it is very well deserved.

“What she has done is to make the option of organ and tissue donation an ordinary part of bereavement care, and this can give great comfort to some families. It is a huge achievement.”