Northampton woman who helped set up town’s first independent Citizen’s Advice Bureau receives the MBE

Deirdre Newham has been awarded the MBE in the New Year Honours list.
Deirdre Newham has been awarded the MBE in the New Year Honours list.

A volunteering force of nature who helped establish Northampton’s university, its Citizen’s Advice Bureau, and even found time to serve as a magistrate for 40 years is to be honoured with the MBE.

Current deputy lieutenant for Northamptonshire, Dierdre Newham, has been named in the New Year’s Honour’s list for services to the community in Northampton.

A police press conference at Wootton Hall Police Headquarters in 2008 with Deirdre Newham, then chair of Northamptonshire Police Authority and Peter Maddison, Chief Constable of Northamptonshire Police about plans for a new custody suite in Brackmills.

A police press conference at Wootton Hall Police Headquarters in 2008 with Deirdre Newham, then chair of Northamptonshire Police Authority and Peter Maddison, Chief Constable of Northamptonshire Police about plans for a new custody suite in Brackmills.

Along with helping to establish the University of Northampton, Mrs Newham was the first manager for Northampton;s independent Citizen’s Advice Bureau, which went on to recruit 60 volunteers.

In 1977 she turned her hand to the justice arena, becoming a magistrate before going on to chair the Northampton bench in 1996.

In September 1997 she was even appointed by the Lord Chancellor as a lay member of the national interview panel in which she helped appoint senior judges through until 2004.

Now 73, grandmother-of-three Mrs Newham still serves a voluntary role as chair of the governors at Northampton High School and says she is thrilled to be honoured by the Queen.

As to why she has taken on such a variety of challenges, she said: “In a way opportunities come along and you either embrace them or you don’t.

“I guess I tended to embrace them.

“I have always been interested in helping young people forge a future.”

Mrs Newham, who also served as chairman on the former Northamptonshire Police Authority, has already met the Queen twice at civic functions, but says she is excited at the prospect of meeting a royal again.

Though her roles in setting the CAB in Northampton ranks as one of her greatest achievements, she is equally proud of her record as a Justice of the Peace.

“I didn’t see it as just punishing people, because sometimes we really did help people along,” she said.

“Sometimes we could give someone a probation order that might really help them turn their lives around.

“It was always for the greater good.”

Her nominator for the MBE describes Mrs Newham in glowing terms.

“She is an exceptional individual who puts public service ahead of all other aspects,” her nomination states. “And works tirelessly for the good of others.”

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