Billingshurst volunteer of 50 years is awarded medal

David Thompson, from Silver Lane in Billingshurst, with his wife Anne and daughter Julie Casey and the Lord Lieutenant of West Sussex Susan Pyper at his investiture ceremony for a British Empire Medal on Friday, June 8, 2018.
David Thompson, from Silver Lane in Billingshurst, with his wife Anne and daughter Julie Casey and the Lord Lieutenant of West Sussex Susan Pyper at his investiture ceremony for a British Empire Medal on Friday, June 8, 2018.

A dedicated and caring member of the community. That’s what friends and fellow volunteers had to say of David Thompson, from Billingshurst, who was presented with the British Empire Medal earlier this month.

David, 88, was nominated by his daughter Julie Casey for 50 years of services to the community, from helping with community transport, to serving as a special constable and school governor, and even donating blood up to the age of 70.

Speaking at his investiture, Julie said her father had quite literally put ‘blood, sweat and tears’ into making the village and wider community a better place to be.

She said: “He’s a man who simply cares about other people, about community and about society and he’s consistently dedicated his time and energy.”

David was named in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list for his voluntary work since 1964, which included dressing up as Santa for the Billingshurst Lions’ annual sleigh collection.

A long-serving member of the Lions, it’s estimated that David has raised around half a million pounds for the charity in his role as treasurer and book shop volunteer.

The formal medal presentation at Billingshurst Community Centre followed an invite to a garden party at Buckingham Palace earlier this year.

Lord Leutienant of West Sussex Susan Pyper, who made the investiture on behalf of Her Majesty, said she had made an ‘outstanding’ recommendation to the Cabinet Office for David to receive the award.

She said all applications were considered personally by Her Majesty the Queen and the BEM was for people who were ‘the glue keeping all of the village together’.

She said: “David, you are a very special man and Billingshurst is lucky to have you in this community.”

David, gave an emotional thanks to all who attended, in particular those friends who had travelled from as far as York for the ceremony and his wife Anne for her support over the years.

He said: “I feel very proud and honoured. It’s nice to have all my friends here.”

One of his five grandchildren, 24-year-old Holly Casey, said she was very proud.

“He’s so modest, it’s nice for him to have something for him,” she said.