New Year’s Honours have been awarded to two people in Northamptonshire for their services to the community.
Former firefighter Martin Cahill, aged 70, from Earls Barton, helps house blaze victims in their hour of need and has received an MBE.
Mr Cahill, aged 70, said he was “surprised” to be recognised with the gong, which pays tribute to his 50-plus years of service to the communities of Earls Barton and Northamptonshire but is thrilled at the prospect of picking up the award.
Mr Cahill served as a retained firefighter for 35 years, but also retains strong links to Earls Barton Cricket Club, the village youth club and to the parish council.
In 1996 he became one of the first volunteers to offer his services to the partnership between the British Red Cross and Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service, a role he still enjoys today. Mr Cahill responds to a pager at any time of day, travelling around the county to give advice and offer help to people who have suffered serious fires in their homes.
He said: “It came as a bit of a surprise. You don’t do these things to collect medals.
“You do them because you like helping people I suppose. It shows a bit of appreciation for what you do I suppose.”
Neelam Aggarwal-Singh says she only found out what a MBE was when Goodness Gracious Me star Meera Syal was given the honour in 1997.
However, just over 30 years since she arrived in Northampton from India, speaking no English at all, the 58-year-old says it is “a dream come true” to be nominated for the same award in the New Year’s Honours List.
Mrs Aggarwal-Singh, who is a well known and highly respected member of Northampton’s community, has been recognised for her work in supporting the town’s diverse people to understand each other better, integrate with each other and celebrate together. She also received an MBE.
The mother-of-three, who lives in Northampton town centre, said: “I am absolutely delighted to have received this honour. It is a big thing for me because in all honesty it is something I could only ever dream about, but for me it has become a reality now. I am absolutely over the moon.”