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'My jaw just dropped' – five New Forest residents named in New Year's Honours List

From left, Karl Simons, Stevie Radjen and Paul Brockman
From left, Karl Simons, Stevie Radjen and Paul Brockman

FIVE local residents were recognised in the New Year Honours list, including a mental health pioneer and a marathon runner who has raised more than £300,000 for a children’s charity.

Also among them was Marcus Agius, chair of the board of directors at Exbury Gardens, who was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE).

It was in recognition of his services to botany and conservation, which include being chair for 10 years of the board of trustees at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Marcus said: “I am very fortunate to have been so closely involved in three such beautiful gardens as Kew, Wakehurst and Exbury.”

Marcus is married to Kate de Rothschild, granddaughter of Exbury Garden’s founder Lionel de Rothschild.

Marcus Agius
Marcus Agius

Thames Water chief health and safety officer Karl Simons, who lives in Ringwood, was made an OBE, for services to mental health policy after his work spearheading an initiative at Britain’s biggest water company.

Mr Simons has been praised by MPs and business leaders for building a comprehensive mental health and wellbeing programme, piloting an initiative in which 500 members of staff trained as mental health first aiders, and leading a “cultural revolution” to remove the stigma of mental health.

Work-related illness within Thames Water has declined by 80% in the past seven years and in 2019 Mr Simons was awarded Most Influential Person in Health & Safety for 2019 by the Safety and Health Practitioner Magazine’s readership.

Mr Simons said he was “incredibly overwhelmed and emotional” and even called the Cabinet Office several times to check it was real.

“Many people still think of health and safety as just physical wellbeing, but good mental health in the workplace is just as important, because both body and mind are connected,” he added.

Medallists of the Order of the British Empire (BEM) gongs were given to Stevo Radjen from Brockenhurst, Paul Brockman from New Milton, and Thomas Fowler from Ringwood.

Mr Radjen was very “honoured and humbled” to be recognised for his 16-year spell running marathons in aid of the Naomi House children’s charity.

In his day job the 58-year-old manages a design and creative marketing company, but he has devoted much of his spare time to fundraising by completing events in London, Berlin, Paris, Amsterdam, Barcelona and Nice, and also joining Naomi House’s board of trustees.

In the year he turned 50, he also ran the gruelling Marathon Des Sables, raising £80,000, and went even further in 2018 by collecting a further £140,000 from 21 marathon events in 21 days to mark Naomi House’s 21st anniversary.

“I feel very honoured and humbled to have received this recognition,” he told the A&T.

“At first, when I got the email from the Cabinet Office notifying me of the award, I thought it was a hoax. Thankfully I didn’t trash the email and gave it a little more attention.

“This honour is really for all the children we serve, their families and the amazing staff at Naomi House and Jacksplace who deliver this essential service.”

Mr Radjen also revealed “final hurrah” plans for 2022: “I am now in the planning stage to run 60 marathons in 60 consecutive days at the age of 60. Fingers crossed.”

Paul Brockman (62) was honoured for his work in woodland management and nature conservation. He has developed a wide range of courses that teach nature conservation to schools, children, families and adults.

He worked for a decade managing 20 acres of woods at the 100-acre Hoburne Bashley site, but last year branched out with his own independent Woodlander Coppice business.

Mr Brockman is qualified as a bushcraft instructor, in sustainable woodland management, and is a talented woodworker.

He passes on his skills to inspire the next generation to appreciate nature and use it sustainably to support the local economy and society.

He said his “jaw just dropped” when he received a call from the Cabinet Office and felt “deeply honoured”.

Mr Brockman added: “It’s amazing, especially when you are so passionate about something. This is all about the world we leave behind for the next generation.

“Considering everything that has been going on, it’s more and more important as we need to reconnect young people with nature and experience it and value it, and pass on our skills and knowledge to the next generation.”

Thomas Fowler, a technical leader for the Environment Agency, was given his award for services to the environment. He did not wish to comment publicly.

Dorset fire leaders were also recognised.

Watch manager Chris Martin from Ramsbury fire station received a BEM for services to the local community, while area manager Andy Cole and chief fire officer Ben Ansell were both awarded a Queen’s Fire Service Medal.

* This article has been amended from an earlier version to include Marcus Agius CBE

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