Chelveston's go-to village fixer, podcaster and community organiser awarded BEM

The award is 'for services to the community in the Parish of Chelveston-cum-Caldecott, Northamptonshire, particularly during Covid-19'

Friday, 11th June 2021, 10:30 pm

A community all-rounder who was emailed to tell him about his award in the Queen's Birthday Honours 2021 list binned the initial message - thinking it was a scam.

Retired IT consultant Adrian Dale had been asked if he would accept the British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to the community but nearly missed out after ditching the email from the Cabinet Office.

The 59-year-old had indeed been honoured for services to the community in the parish of Chelveston-cum-Caldecott, Northamptonshire, particularly during Covid-19 and it was only after he researched the email address that he realised it was genuine.

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Adrian Dale

Mr Dale said: "When I got the email I thought it was a scam. I wondered how they had managed to forge a Cabinet Office email. I had a phone call to confirm it so then I knew it was real.

"It's really lovely recognition but I feel like it's on behalf of everyone else. I never went into this for any recognition."

Mr Dale moved into the east Northamptonshire village in 1987 and has been a consistent figure of the parish of Chelveston, Caldecott and Chelston Rise since 1996 when he first joined the parish council.

Since taking early retirement eleven years ago, he has dedicated his working days to working in the village organising, mending, cleaning and helping the community.

Prior to the Covid-19 crisis he had a long history of community activity designing and building the village memorial to the 305th Bombardment Group which flew from the Chelveston air base during the Second World War. He was fundamental in raising money for the Cross of Sorrow, a First World War memorial in the churchyard.

Turning his skills to odd jobs, he renovated the village hall to make it into an event space for village activity with the help of his fundraising, doing the electrics and labour himself so that it could generate further revenue.

He said: "The irony is that when I first moved to the village there was a chap who was looking after the village. I always thought how wonderful it would be to do that job. I tried to get him an award but never got anywhere. Then sadly three weeks after I retired he had a stroke and couldn't continue. I now work full-time for the community."

In 2019 Mr Dale acted as the parish 'fibre champion', liaising to ensure systematic installation of fibre optic broadband in the village and also bring the parish into the 21st century.

During the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown Mr Dale took to the airwaves with a daily village podcast broadcasting Chelveston news to the residents for 100 days as well as going the extra mile to set up a briefing and a newsletter.

Knowing so many villagers was an advantage for Mr Dale and as soon as the lockdown was announced the emergency plan created by the parish council kicked in.

Working from the village hall as the emergency centre, Mr Dale helped co-ordinate the community response.

Spirits were kept high with doorstep deliveries of bunches of tulips and a scarecrow festival.

He said: "We had a very good emergency plan. I know 70 per cent of the village personally so I could check on everyone. I did a podcast every day about what was happening. People loved it."

But Mr Dale says he will not be travelling to London to collect his award or take a day off for the announcement.

He added: "I won't collect it in person - I shall be working around the village."