Queen’s honour for charity pair

June and Brian Cox at the nursey school in Bakoteh, The Gambia, which bears their name

June and Brian Cox at the nursey school in Bakoteh, The Gambia, which bears their name

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A Kettering couple who have been helping improve the lives of children in The Gambia for more than two decades have seen their charitable work recognised with an award from the Queen.

Brian, 83, and June Cox, 76, of London Road, began a long project to build schools in The Gambia after a visit to the African state in 1990.

June and Brian Cox, pictured by the Telegraph during a charity appeal

June and Brian Cox, pictured by the Telegraph during a charity appeal

Since then, they have built three schools and have also become involved in projects to bring clean water to remote villages and to improve homes occupied by poor people.

The pair were awarded a British Empire Medal in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

Mr Cox said: “We spend six months of the year in Africa carrying out work there, and we spend the other six months in the UK fundraising.

“We came back home to Kettering in May and had messages on our phone telling us we had been nominated for the medal and it was quite an honour.”

The couple take shipping containers to The Gambia on their visits there, filled with items for their schools and materials to help improve homes, such as corrugated sheets for roofs.

Mr Cox said distributing the items can take up to three months, and more time is spent on carrying out building work.

He added: “We want to make the schools self sufficient.

“Our aim is to help people who want to help themselves and not only do we do the fundraising at home, we carry out a lot of the work in The Gambia as well to keep the costs down and make every £1 worth £2.”

Mr and Mrs Cox have a sponsorship scheme so that people can contribute £20 a year to buy a child’s school materials.

To find out more about Mr and Mrs Cox’s charity work in Gambia, visit their website.

Alternatively, call the couple on 01536 390240.