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New Forest councillor's Comic Relief efforts recognised with OBE honour

Michael Harris stepped down from his Comic Relief roles in 2019
Michael Harris stepped down from his Comic Relief roles in 2019

A BROCKENHURST councillor who was part of a team which helped to raise £1.7bn for Comic Relief has spoken of his pride at being rewarded by being made an OBE.

Cllr Michael Harris, who was treasurer and a trustee of the charity for 30 years, was named at the weekend in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list, which recognised outstanding efforts of people across the UK.

Comic Relief, which supports people in the UK and Africa, aims to eliminate poverty, and is well known for its popular biennial fundraisers, Red Nose Day and Sport Relief.

Cllr Harris, who is a New Forest district councillor, is also the cabinet member for economic development.

His father Tom Evelyn Harris, a police superintendent who died when Michael was just seven, was made an MBE in 1951 for his active service in post-war Germany.

Cllr Harris told the A&T: “I like to think he is looking down and feeling very proud – it is a very special thing to have.

“I am very proud of all the things we have done [at Comic Relief] and equally incredibly proud to receive an OBE.”

He added: “I’ve known for several months and had to keep it a secret, even from my wife. I am incredibly proud, it’s really very special.”

Michael stepped down from his Comic Relief roles at the end of 2019, although he admits it would have been “very easy” to stay forever.

During his time there he ran the charity’s investment committee which itself raised £70m which went towards paying salaries, ensuring every penny donated went to good causes, and setting up an ethical investment policy.

Also receiving an honour was Sgt Deborah Ashthorpe, of Hampshire Constabulary, who was awarded a Queen’s Police Medal for her commitment to providing innovative and excellent services to victims of domestic violence.

The newly appointed chair of trustees at Hampshire and Isle of Wight Community Foundation, Rebecca Kennelly (38), was also named in the honours list.

Rebecca has been made an MBE for her work coordinating a volunteer response programme during the Covid-19 crisis.

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