MBE goes to charity frontrunner

CHARITY chairman John Sparkes, from Lamarsh, has been recognised in the New Year’s Honours list for his services to special needs education and adult services.

Mr Sparkes, 78, of Bures Road, chairman of Autism Anglia since 2003, was made an MBE for voluntary service.

The retired chartered accountant has lived in Lamarsh for 33 years, is married to Meriel and has a daughter Louise, who lives in Great Horkesley, and three young grandsons.

He said: “I found out about it a few weeks ago and it came as a complete surprise. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I am very honoured to receive it.”

Autism Anglia, based in Colchester, promotes the welfare, education and care of people with autism and helps their families and carers. Mr Sparkes first got involved with the organisation 16 years ago.

He said: “After my retirement in 1996, I was appointed a trustee of Autism Anglia, formerly the Essex Autistic Society.

“The charity has increased its services significantly as, since 1996, the Doucecroft School [a specialist school near Colchester for three to 19-year-olds with autistic spectrum conditions] only had 22 students, and now it has around 60.

“The adult services now provide residential and community care to more than 70 adults, with establishments in Essex and Norfolk.”

Mr Sparkes spent most of his career working in London as a group financial controller and company secretary for a major public limited company.

He is also treasurer of both Little Horkesley Church and the Dedham and Tey Deanery. He is waiting to hear when he will be invested with his MBE.