A SUSPECTED tax demand for Pagham community mainstay Ray Radmall turned into an honour.
Ray was stunned to discover the envelope from On Her Majesty’s Service was the notification he had been nominated for the latest Queen’s Birthday Honours List.
He has been awarded the British Empire Medal for his services to the community.
Ray, 71, is the long-serving chairman of Pagham Parish Council and has played a leading role in its efforts to achieve a community scheme to stop Pagham beach from eroding and the fight against 1,200 homes being built on farmland in the area.
He said: “I was stunned when I read that I had been awarded the BEM.
“I assumed the envelope contained a tax demand. It’s a real honour but I feel that I am receiving it on behalf of the people of Pagham. I’m standing on the shoulders of so many people who have worked hard for the area before me.”
Ray, 71, of Lagoon Road, will be presented with his BEM in the coming months by the Lord Lieutenant of West Sussex, Susan Pyper. It is also set to be invited to one of the Queen’s garden parties at Buckingham Palace next summer.
His family has long-standing links with Pagham and he joined the parish council around 1993.
As a resident of Pagham Beach, he was urged to become a councillor by Ruby Wilkinson, who was a parish council member and the chairman of the Pagham Beach Residents Association.
“She wanted me to get on the parish council and fight for the people on the beach,” he said. “She put me forward and it has gone from there.”
Ray became the vice-chairman to the previous chairman, Cllr Jacquie Miles, for several years before she died on March 12, 2005. He took over the role and has remained in it to become the longest-serving parish council chairman in the Bognor Regis area.
“Jacquie and Arthur White, another previous chairman, did fantastic work for this area over the years and I’m just following their example.
“There have been other people who have preceded me and made their mark for the community.
“I’m very fortunate that I have got a good team on the parish council at the moment. It is important that we work on matters that are necessary for the community.
“We have been working on the sea defence scheme since about 2007.”
Ray and some of his fellow councillors also devote their spare time to projects to benefit the community. Three of them spent last Saturday laying concrete for park benches in the playarea at the village hall.
At the recent council annual meeting, fellow member Dawn Hall called Ray ‘an absolute fantastic asset for Pagham and a brilliant chairman’.”